Palermo Shore Excursion – A day in Erice and Segesta.

Sicily is without any doubt a splendid island rich in culture and history thanks to its strategic location at the center of the Mediterranean Sea. This has made the island a crossroads of history and a melting pot of a dozen or more ethnic groups whose warriors or merchants sought its shores.

Once your ship has arrived in the port of Palermo and you are allowed off, you’ll find your English speaking professional driver waiting for you right in front of your ship. He will hold a sign with your party’s name on so that you can easily spot him.

Your first stop will be Segesta. A short drive from your ship, about 45 minutes, will take you there, making this your first stop for your day onshore.

Segesta was one of the major cities built by the Elymians, an indigenous population of Sicily. Not much is known about them, but legends say they were Trojans who fled after the war of Troy, later to be conquered by the Greek.

It was built on the top of Mount Barbaro, surrounded by fortified walls and with the temple at its highest point. Not much is left today, after the destruction brought by the Vandals, except the temple and an amphitheater. Still, the current preservation of both buildings makes them worth the visit.

Once you have had time to explore Segesta, it will be time to move on to your next destination for the day: the beautiful Medieval hilltop village of Erice. You’ll be there in about 40 minutes.

As most Medieval towns, Erice is surrounded by defensive walls and crowned by a castle, known as Venus Castle or Pepoli Castle. Why two names? You might ask! The original Norman castle was built in the 12th century on top of the ruins of the Temple of Venus, so it was known by that name, while in the 19th century the castle was given to Count Agostino Pepoli in exchange for renovation, thus the last second name.

The views from Castle Pepoli are breathtaking! Looking down you’ll see the city of Trapani below you, the dramatic coast towards Marsala and, on a clear day, as far as the Aegean Islands.

The castle is open every day from 10 am to 7 pm, except at the weekend when it closes at 4 pm.  Tickets are euros 6 per person and include the castle, the museum, and the observation tower. Booking entrance at least 24 hours in advance is suggested during high season. You can do so by calling +39 366 6712 832.

Another site not to miss is the Garden of Balio, close to the castle, where you can catch your breath after the climb to reach the castle. As you can imagine, a town perched on the top of a mountain, at almost 2,500 feet above sea level, has steep streets. Also, the pavement can be somewhat uneven on the streets with large cobblestones, so make sure you wear comfortable sturdy shoes!

All of our shore excursions can be enjoyed as a Private Tour, which means the driver and vehicle will be dedicated to your family and friends only, or as a Shared Tour, where your family will share the tour with other cruisers who wish to enjoy the same tour. In either case, the driver and vehicle will be dedicated to your party only.

If you’re looking for a Private Tour click here.

If you’d like to try our Shared Tour click here.

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