Sentiero Demanio forestale S.Matteo
Not far from the center of Erice, on the northern slope of the mountain, there is the agro-forest area of San Matteo, characterised by a wood of conifers and eucalyptus.
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This is an area of great natural and cultural interest: within this area there is an Agro-forest Museum, that houses some of the most characteristic specimens of local fauna and flora, as well as many objects related to the rural culture of this area (such as an old mill, domestic furnishings, agricultural tools and a typical Sicilian cart in an excellent state of preservation) of ethnographic interest.
Nearby is also a panoramic viewpoint overlooking a splendid blue expanse, the Gulf of Bonagia and the plains below. Equipped with wooden benches and tables, from here excellent panoramic views can be admired. There are also about twenty endemic species, including the cavolo trapanese (cabbage from Trapani) and the limonio siciliano (Sicilian Limonium).
Since 1989 two areas have been intended for farming the typical asino pantesco (donkey from Pantelleria), one of the most ancient and appreciated donkey breeds of Italy, as part of a wider project to maintain and protect biodiversity. Nearby you can also visit the ruins of the Oratorio di (Oratory of) San Matteo (6th-7th century AD), dating back to early Christian and Byzantine times.
Then the path runs along the western side of the mountain until it reaches the trail named M-602 towards the Chiesa di (Church of) Santa Maria delle Grazie and the upper Cableway station (Erice Vetta), per continuare con la visita del centro storico dell’antico borgo e deliziarsi con la degustazione dei tradizionali dolci ericini.
Martogna and the forest areas of Erice
On the mountain of Erice there are equipped areas with panoramic views: Martogna, approximately 2 Kilometers from Trapani, surrounded by Mediterranean pine, eucalyptus and oak trees, is equipped with wooden benches and tables, a playground, fountains, toilet service, a faunal area and an artificial pond with different animal species (including birds); the landscape of San Matteo, in the north-western side of the mountain, has rocky crags with deep and suggestive gullies, grottoes, ravines and broad plains with conifers and broadleaves, but also nut, cherry, carob and almond trees. Within the area, at Baglio Cusenza, is located the Agro-Forest Museum, a point of reference for the knowledge of the natural and ethno-anthropological heritage of this territory, with ancient tools, collections of exiccàta (sections and fragments of forest plants expressly dried), stuffed birds, nests and reptiles kept in formaline. Not far from here is a Christian place of worship dating back to the VI-VII centuries; located on an ancient cistern, it is probably the church of San Matteo (St. Matthew), already documented in the XIV century with, inside, a fresco now hardy legible. From here a path, which borders the traces of fortifications dating back to the First Punic War, leads to a plain which overlooks a view among the most beautiful of Sicily.
The Oratory of San Matteo (St. Matthew): the Oratory, now in ruins, is an early Christian or Byzantine small building (4 th / 7 th century) dedicated to San Matteo (St. Matthew), from whom the entire area has taken its name. The building consists of two environments: a rectangular one, situated approximately 1 meter under the surface and covered with four arches made of roughly square edged limestone slabs, the second, almost square in shape, connected to the first by a staircase, now completely lost. On the south and north walls there are two square-shaped niches with religious motifs.