..: How to get to Erice ...

•  By road , there are two possibilities:

1) drive along the Autostrada del Sole via Milan - Bologna - Florence - Rome - Naples - Villa San Giovanni (Reggio Calabria), then take a ferry-boat from Villa San Giovanni to Messina and drive on to Erice (350 Km from Messina).

2) take the ferryboat either from Genoa or from Naples to Palermo and then drive on to Erice (100 Km from Palermo); the places on the ferryboat should be booked in advance.

•  By train : via Milan - Rome, you can reach Palermo or Trapani directly.

•  By air : the best way to reach Erice is by plane, landing either in Palermo airport (or in Trapani) airport. If you are coming by airplane, please notice that luggage checked through to Palermo (or Trapani) goes through customs there.

..: Packing for Erice ...

Erice's weather in summer is usually hot at noon and pleasantly cool in the evening. Winter weather is generally quite pleasant and sunny, but evenings and some days may be windy and very cool. Sometimes mists make it quite chilly. Erice is located on the height of approximately 750 m above sea level; therefore the weather is changeable in autumn; disturbed weather may commence any time. For instance, last year the end of October was rather pleasant (sunny, about +25° C during the day and +15° C in the morning). Try to pack with all this in mind. A pullover sweater is recommended. Be sure to bring rubber-soled shoes. The picturesque cobbled streets of Erice are slippery as well as uneven.

..: Erice food ...

Some recommendations: the strong Italian coffee (caffè/cappuccino), tuna-fish (tonno), sword-fish (pescespada), squids (calamari) and seafood in general, cous-cous with fish soup, egg-plants (melanzane), and many delicious fresh fruits.

..: Shopping ...

Many shops give up 10% discount to people from the “E. Majorana” Centre. Local specialties include coral jewellery, brightly decorated pottery, a variety of sweet almond pastries, and woven rugs, shawls, or hand bags. Most stores are closed from about one to four in the afternoon. The bank is open only until 1:00 p.m. on weekdays, and it is closed on Saturday and Sunday.

..: Sightseeing ...

Everything in Erice is within walking distance. Buses also go regularly to Trapani, which has a beach and a railway station as well as boats to the Aegadian (Egadi) Islands. Either your travel agent at home, or the Secretariat of the “E. Majorana” Centre (at the “Rabi” Institute-San Rocco) after you arrive in Erice, can help you to rent a car if you wish. A car is essential if you wish to make day trips to Palermo, Selinunte, Agrigento, etc., or spend afternoons at the beautiful beach of San Vito Lo Capo. Be forewarned, however, of the difficulties of having a car here. Erice streets are very narrow, with few places to park. The road down to the mountain is narrow, steep, and twisting.



According to legend, Erice, son of Venus and Neptune, founded a small town on top of a mountain (750 metres above sea level) more than three thousand years ago. The founder of modern history – i.e. the recording of events in a methodical and chronological sequence as they really happened without reference to mythical causes – the great Thucydides (~500 B.C.), writing about events connected with the conquest of Troy (1183 B.C.) said: “After the fall of Troy some Trojans on their escape from the Achaei arrived in Sicily by boat and as they settled near the border with the Sicananians all together they were named Elymi: their towns were Segesta and Erice” . This inspired Virgil to describe the arrival of the Trojan royal family in Erice and the burial of Anchise, by his son Enea, on the coast below Erice. Homer (~1000 B.C.), Theocritus (~300 B.C.), Polybius (~200 B.C.), Virgil (~50 B.C.), Horace (~20 B.C.), and others have celebrated this magnificent spot in Sicily in their poems. During seven centuries (XIII-XIX) the town of Erice was under the leadership of a local oligarchy, whose wisdom assured a long period of cultural development and economic prosperity which in turn gave rise to the many churches, monasteries and private palaces which you see today.

In Erice you can admire the Castle of Venus, the Cyclopeans Walls (~800 B.C.) and the Gothic Cathedral (~1300 A.D.). Erice is at present a mixture of ancient and mediaeval architecture. Other masterpieces of ancient civilization are to be found in the neighbourhood: at Motya (Phoenician), Segesta (Elymian), and Selinunte (Greek). On the Aegadian Islands – theatre of the decisive naval battle of the first Punic War (264-241 B.C.) – suggestive neolithic and palaeolithic vestiges are still visible: the grottoes of Favignana, the carvings and murals of Levanzo.

Splendid beaches are to be found at San Vito Lo Capo, Scopello, and Cornino, and a wild and rocky coast around Monte Cofano: all at less than one hour's drive from Erice.


The “Ettore Majorana” International Centre for Scientific Culture takes its inspiration from the outstanding Italian physicist, after whom the Centre was named. Born in Sicily in 1906, his breadth of vision and the excellence of his contributions to theoretical nuclear physics moved Enrico Fermi to the following comment: “There are many categories of scientists, people of second and third rank, who do their best, but do not go very far. There are also people of first-class rank, who make great discoveries, fundamental for the development of science. But then there are the geniuses, like Galilei and Newton. Well, Ettore Majorana was one of them”.

Embracing 110 Schools, covering all branches of science, the Centre is situated in the old pre-mediaeval city of Erice where three restored monasteries (one of which was the residence of the Viceroy of Sicily during the XIV and XV centuries) provide an appropriate setting for high intellectual endeavour. These monasteries are now named after great scientists and strong supporters of the “Ettore Majorana” Centre.

The San Francesco Monastery (former Viceroy's residence) is now the “Eugene P. Wigner” Institute with the “Enrico Fermi” Lecture Hall. The San Domenico Monastery is now the “Patrick M.S. Blackett” Institute with the “Paul A.M. Dirac” Lecture Hall. The San Rocco Monastery is now the “Isidor I. Rabi” Institute with the “Richard P. Feynman” Lecture Hall, the Directorate and the main Secretariat of the Centre.

There are living quarters in all three Institutes for people attending the Courses of the Centre.

The Erice Station of the World Laboratory Seismological Network is located in the “Rabi” Institute. The “Daniel Chalonge” and the “Paul A.M. Dirac” Museums are situated at the “Blackett” Institute.


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