Location of Trapani on Sicily
Trapani seen from Erice

Trapani (TRAH-pah-ni) is a port city and the capital of Trapani province in the north-west corner of Sicily, Italy. Trapani has a lively atmosphere due to its position as the capital and its economic activities as a port. It has a rich history and many historical buildings have been preserved. Old traditions are cherished. Thanks to the presence of an international airport, the city with its marina and beaches is increasingly popular as a tourist destination. The number of cruise ships calling at the city increases every year. For the individual traveler Trapani is a great base for day trips or for traveling further afield in Sicily.


The population of the urban area is about 90,000, including the north-eastern suburb of Casa Santa, which is not part of the comune (municipality) of Trapani.


The history of Trapani (Greek: Drépanon, Roman: Drepanum) is as old as Greek mythology. As early as the 13th century BC, Elymian people who had settled in Erice and Segesta used Trapani as a natural harbor. The Phoenicians expanded the city in the 9th century BC. In 260 BC, the Carthaginians used the port as a base. Two major battles took place here. In 249 BC the Romans were defeated by the Carthaginians. Eight years later it was the turn of the Romans, who defeated the Carthaginians. The Romans had little interest in the city and Trapani declined. A thousand years later under Arab rule the city regained importance and revived. The Arabs fortified the city walls and improved trade relations whereby salt had an important role. It was sold to Italy, France and England. Arab architecture still determines for a large part the cityscape of Trapani. The Normans conquered the city in 1077 and turned it into a prosperous Roman Catholic free port. Charles I of Anjou put heavy loads on to the people who successfully rebelled (Sicilian Vespers) in 1282. The city came under the house of Aragon and grew. In 1817 Trapani became the provincial capital. During World War II, the city suffered greatly. Heavy bombing destroyed the San Pietro district, the oldest part of the city, including the Garibaldi Theatre.

Get in

By plane

Vincenzo Florio Airport Trapani-Birgi (IATA: TPS), also known as Trapani Airport, is served by Ryanair, Darwin Airline, Alitalia and Air One. Darwin flies to Rome and the island of Pantelleria; Air One to Milan. Ryanair operate low cost routes direct from Malta, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Poland, the UK, Ireland, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Slovakia, Sweden and Finland. Four Ryanair B737-800s are based in Trapani, meaning delays are shorter than average.

As of May 2012 the following routes are served by Ryanair: Beauvais, Bologna, Brussels/Charleroi, Cagliari, Genoa, Girona, Hahn, Malta, Milan/Bergamo-Orio al Serio, Parma, Pisa, Rome-Ciampino, Treviso, Trieste, Turin, Verona.
Seasonal: Ancona, Billund, Cuneo, Eindhoven, Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden, Kraków, Leipzig/Halle, London-Luton, Maastricht, Memmingen, Perugia, Stockholm-Skavsta, Tampere, Valencia.

The airport is at Birgi, about 15 km from the center of Trapani. AST (Azienda Siciliana Trasporti) buses cost €4.90, leave every 45 minutes and take about 40 minutes . The last bus leaves the airport at 11:30PM in the summer months, so the latest flights miss it. An alternative is to take 25 minutes walk to the Mozia-Birgi station and get the train to Trapani for €2.25. Sometimes Ryanair attendants propose that you buy tickets for the bus on the flight. Don't even think of it – it’s much more expensive and inconvenient than AST buses.

By train

Frequent trains run from Palermo, with a few stopping at Segesta. Local trains also run to Marsala, Mazara del Vallo and Castelvetrano (for the ruins of Selinunte).

By bus

Frequent buses run from Palermo. Less frequently they go to Marsala, Mazara del Vallo, Castelvetrano (for the ruins of Selinunte), Sciacca, Agrigento and Segesta.

By boat

Trapani is the port for frequent boats and hydrofoils to the Egadi Islands. Nightly boats (and hydrofoils in summer) also run to Pantelleria, with weekly (or so) ones to Tunis. See Siremar and Ustica Lines.

Get around

The old town and port is small enough to walk around. ATM (Azienda Trasporti e Mobilità) is the urban bus company, not to be confused with AST, which services the airport and the rest of Sicily. Buses pass the ferry port, and the adjacent bus station and railway station are on the edge of the city centre.






The kitchen of Trapani has undergone many foreign influences in particular from the Arabs. Meat and pasta are often replaced by fish and couscous. A local specialty is couscous Imperiale, steamed semolina with fish stock. The pesto alla Trapanese is a raw herb sauce of tomatoes, almonds, basil and garlic. The traditional shape of the pasta is busiate, a kind of twisted macaroni.



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