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Terrasini is a town in north-west Sicily, just 20 kilometres west of Palermo.
Start you visit in the central square in Terrasini, the Piazza Duomo, which is a picturesque square with several cafes and the cathedral dominating one side.
From a historical and artistic point of view the Cathedral of Santa Maria delle Grazie, rebuilt in the middle of the 18th century, is the highlight of a visit to Terrasini. The original church was built in 1663 by Baron Donato Gazzara, and dedicated to Our Lady of Grace.
The cathedral contains some paintings by the Vito D'Anna (1718-1769) school and by Gioacchino Martorana (1735-1779), and many wooden statues by Girolamo Bagnasco (1759-1832).
The church entrance is located between two bell towers and the façade is a double row of columns, with a central niche where you can see the 'Madonna delle Grazie', while next to it there are the statues of Saint Joseph and Saint Peter.
The cathedral interior, in the Romanesque style, has three aisles. Above the main altar stands a painting by Gioacchino Martorana depicting the "Madonna delle Grazie, Santa Rosalia, San Francisco and San Vito".
On the walls of the chancel are other paintings from the 18th century and depicting some aspects of the life of the Virgin Mary such as "The Birth of Mary" and "Admission to the temple." There are also numerous wooden sculptures by Girolamo Bagnasco.
The civic museum in Terrasini is rich in objects of great value, and is divided into natural, archaeological and anthropologicals sections.
In the first, the ornithological collection in particular stands out, with an extensive collection of birds such as griffins, imperial eagles and capercaillie, and examples of the typical insects of Sicily. The archaeological section is located in a room of the City Hall and contains some interesting remains of Roman ships found in the sea off Terrasini. Of particular interest is the collection of amphorae of Phoenician, Roman and Arabic origin.
Natural environment and beaches
The principal attraction of Terrasini is its natural environment. Starting from the harbour you will first discover the beach called Praiola with the “Faraglioni”, in front of which is the D'Aumale Palace*. Today the palace hosts the Regional Museum of Natural History and a permanent exhibition of Sicilian farm carts.
* The palace building began as the wine-cellar of Henry D'Orleans Duke D'Aumale, son of King Louis Philippe of France (1773-1850) and Marie Amélie de Bourbon (1818-1857).
The caves and creeks are of particular interest along the coast near Terrasini. As a seaside resort, Terrasini has long beaches, among which the beach called "Maggagiari" stands out, that extends beyond the port. The coast of Terrasini actually extends from the Ciucca beach to that of San Cataldo, among some there are watch towers which give a medieval touch to the landscape.
Heading inland the area of "Capo Rama" is home to the typical fauna of the rocky shores. Several types of herring gulls, swifts, crested larks and even kestrels can be spotted. The caves are home to colonies of bats, and there are also foxes and rabbits.
The flora in the area of Terrasini is typically a vegetation in which the so-called "palmetto", a significant element of the Sicilian landscape, is found.
Eating and drinking
A discerning visitor to Terrasini cannot refrain from sampling someof the local dishes such as the pasta with sea-urchin, pasta with black squid, lobster fettuccine, and macaroni with fresh sardines.
The best time to come into contact with the typical products of Terrasini is easter, with the tradition of the Feast of the Schietti (bachelors) dating from the 19th century. During the feast you can taste some typical local products (cheeses, olives and wines).
See also Terrasini history and etymology.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.