Visit Castellammare del Golfo
The Gulf of Castellammare ("Castellammare del Golfo") is a wide and deep inlet on the northwest coast of Sicily in the southern Tyrrhenian Sea.
With its long and remarkable coastline, the Gulf of Castellammare is between the peninsula of Cape San Vito to the north and Cape Rama to the east: the coast of the eastern and western regions is characterized by cliffs while the central part has sandy beaches, together forming a lovely part of Sicily.
Explore Castellammare del Golfo
Castellammare del Golfo is a small seaside resort. It is very pretty with a curved harbour and streets leading along a promontory to a castle at the end of the bay. Behind the town is a beautiful backdrop of mountains.
There is a beach next to the harbour but the best beaches are a drive or bus ride along the coast. Around the edge of the harbour are a number of bars and restaurants. On an evening when it is closed to traffic it is very pleasant and is a popular spot for an evening stroll and dinner or drinks.
In the quiet streets of the old town one of the most important buildings is the Mother Church. Situated in the 'Matrice Square', the current church here dates from 1726. The façade is simple and well-proportioned and clearly follows the classical tradition.
The three portals of the facade correspond to the three aisles of the interior, which is enriched by a variety of decorations of Baroque style, such as stuccoes, frescoes and marbles.
Three of the frescoes are by Giuseppe Tresca, painted in the 18th century and representing Biblical stories, and the “Assumption of the Virgin Mary”. Giuseppe Tresca is one of the great Palermitan painters from the 18th-19th centuries, best known for using a “measured” Baroque style.
The church holds some other interesting works of art including a red marble baptismal font dating from the 17th century, a painting by Orazio Ferraro (a Mannerist painter, 1573-1657), and a majolica statue of the “Madonna del Soccorso”, attributed to the school of Luca della Robbia (1400-1481).
In addition to the Mother Church, Castellammare-del-Golfo contains numerous small churches, some of which hold valuable works of art. The 16th century Church of Our Lady of the Rosary has a decorated portal, tympanum, and a bas-relief depicting the “Madonna and Child with Saints and the Crucifix". An earlier church on this site seems to date back to Norman times.
Just as important, in the Old Town there is the Church of Saint Mary by the so-called “Agonizzanti”, with an adjoining convent by the “Crociferi”, dating from the 17th century. See also the 17th century Church of the Madonna delle Grazie, which houses a painting representing the “Madonna and Child” from the 18th century.
Finally, along the "Via Garibaldi" is the church of Saint Anthony of Padua, already here by the mid-17th century, and the small Church of the Purgatory, built toward the beginning of the 15th century and in which there are some 17th-18th century paintings.
Also worth visiting in Castellammare-del-Golfo is the castle, that now holds the Mediterranean Museum. The museum is divided into four sections with various exhibits including some relating to farming tools and techniques and ancient lifestyles and handmade instruments. In the museum archaeology section there are some Roman amphorae and anchors. There is also an exhibition about tuna fishing which was once an important industry in the area.
On the 13th July every year in the Madonna del Soccorso festival the town re-enacts an event that allegedly took place in the 18th century when the Royal Navy chased a Spanish boat into the harbour of Castellammare-del-Golfo. The defenders opened fire but the Royal Navy's superior fire power had the locals fleeing up the mountain until a vision of the Madonna appeared and a flock of angels scared the English away.
Be sure to head up to the Belvedere above Castellammare for great views of the town and sea below.
Castellammare has extremely fertile lands which produce white and red wines of remarkable quality. Also among the local products to try we recommend the so-called “cunzato” (seasoned) bread of Scopello.
For nature lovers, we recommend an exploration of the surounding environment - perhaps to Scopello, an ancient village built, according to some scholars, on the site of the ancient settlement called Cetaria. Ancient Cetaria was was destroyed by the Arabs who, in the same place, built a fishing harbour.
The coast just east of Castellammare del Golfo is flat and low with sandy beaches. By contrast the part further away, in particular to the west is highly indented, with rocks, caves, coves and cliffs.
The Zingaro Nature Reserve called “Lo Zingaro” (The Gypsy) is particularly striking and is rich in Mediterranean vegetation, with rare plants, various species of birds and traces of prehistoric settlements in the “Uzzo” Cave. The reserve is popular with walkers and has some pretty coves with small beaches.
To the West of Castellammare and reached by boat are various sea caves. The best of these is Santa Margherita whose walls are covered in religious frescoes from the early Christian period.
Nearby there are also the characteristic "Bagli" (fortified homesteads) with all the buildings arranged around a central courtyard. Sometimes small villages developed around these bagli, such as the ones at Scopello and Balata di Baida.
Castellammare-del-Golfo is close to the ancient monuments of Segesta.
Alcamo is a popular beach resort with its Marina and old town.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.