Introducing Erice

Erice watches over the port of Trapani from the legendary mountain of Eryx, situated a giddy 750m above sea level. It's a mesmerising walled medieval town with stern-looking forts and churches, and its mountain charm is enhanced by the unpredictable weather that can take you from sunny afternoon to foggy evening in the space of a few minutes.

The town has sweeping views of the valley beneath it and the sea, and is home to Sicily's most famous cake shop, Maria Grammatico.

Erice has a notorious history as a centre for the cult of Venus (Astarte to the Phoenicians and Aphrodite to the Greeks). The mysterious Elymians claimed descent from Venus' famous Trojan son, Aeneas, who mentions the sanctuary as a holy landmark in the Aeneid. Inside the holy temple, acolytes practised the peculiar ritual of sacred prostitution, with the prostitutes accommodated in the temple itself. Despite countless invasions, the sacred site long remained inviolate – there's no need to guess why!