Trapani - Encyclopedia

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TRAPANI (anc. Drepanum), a city and episcopal see of Sicily, capital of the province of the same name, situated on the west coast, 3 m. W. of the Monte San Giuliano, which rises above it, 121 m. W. by S. of Palermo by rail, and 47 m. direct. Pop. (1906), town 47,578, commune 68,986.68,986. The ancient Drepanum (Spbravov, a sickle, from the shape of the low spit of land on which it stands) seems originally to have been the port of Eryx, and never to have been an independent city. It is represented by Virgil in the Aeneid as the scene of the death of Anchises, but first appears in history as an important Carthaginian naval station in the First Punic War (about 260 B.C.), part of the inhabitants of Eryx being transferred thither. Near Drepanum the Roman fleet was defeated in 250 B.C., while the struggle to obtain possession of it ended in the decisive Roman victory off the Aegates Islands in 241, which led to the conclusion of peace (see Punic Wars). It continued to be an important harbour, but never acquired municipal rights. Under the Norman kings, at the time of the first crusade, it became a place of importance; while it was a residence of the Aragonese kings. In the 16th and 17th centuries it was strongly fortified. In 1848 it was the first Sicilian city to rise against the Bourbons.

No remains of the classical period exist except a portion of the mole. There are some fine Gothic and baroque palaces, and a few churches with interesting details. The Oratorio S. Michele contains wooden groups representing scenes from the Passion, executed in the r 7th century and used for carrying in. procession. On the tiled pavement of Sta Lucia is an interesting view of Trapani, showing the strong fortifications on the land side, which have been demolished to permit of the extension of the town in that direction. The Madonna dell' Annunziata, about 1 a m. east of the town, founded in 1332, is now restored to its original style. The adjacent Cappella del Cristo Risorto contains a statue of the Virgin and Child in marble said to have been brought from Cyprus, to which an immense number of valuable offerings have been made, among them two bronze candelabra and a model of the city in silver; while the statue itself is hung with jewels, necklaces, cameos, rings, watches, &c. The modern town is clean and well built, with a fine esplanade on the south. It is a harbour of considerable importance. It was entered by 144 vessels, representing a tonnage of 129,164 in 1906. The imports showed a value of £276,674, the most important items being wheat, coal and timber; while the exports amounted to £143,347, the chief items being salt, wine, salt fish and building-stone. There are also large salt-pans to the south of the city, extending along the coast as far as Marsala, which produce about 200,000 tons of salt annually, of which in 1906 121,192 tons were exported, chiefly to Norway, Sweden, Canada and the United States. The numerous windmills are used for grinding the salt. (T. As.)

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