100km (62 miles) SW of Palermo, 14km (8 2/3 miles) SW of Erice, 150km (93 miles) NW of Agrigento

The most westerly of Sicilian provinces, here the coast from Trapani to Marsala is lined with dazzling white salt pans -- the salt flats are a nature reserve populated by migratory birds, and the sight of the vast white stretches of rock salt against a blue skyline broken by red-and-white stone windmills is spectacular. The province covers a land of great natural beauty, while the provincial capital, Trapani, lies below Mount Erice on a promontory stretching into the sea. The historic center, on a sea-girt promontory, is an atmospheric maze of medieval streets and squares. A fishing and ferry port, Trapani is known for its fine seafood—particularly tuna—and wine from the region's vineyards. The local cuisine is influenced by the region's proximity to North Africa, and Trapani is famed for its couscous.

The old town extends westwards out to sea, and a stroll through its narrow streets takes in old palazzi; ornate churches like the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo; the Torre della Colombaia offshore fortress; and at the tip of the headland, a former defensive outpost, the Torre del Ligny. Modern Trapani is marred by some ugly modern buildings, but merits a visit to see the Santuario dell'Annunziata and the Museo Regionale Pepoli. When you're shopping, look out for the salt and the exquisite coral jewelry made locally. The best time to visit is at Easter for Good Friday's Processione dei Misteri (Procession of the Mysteries), when 20 groups of wooden statues are carried through the streets in keeping with a centuries-old tradition.