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The history of the Trapanese Tonnara of “San Giuliano Palazzo”

The Tonnara di San Giuliano is one of the symbolic monuments of Trapani and represents the history of the city. The structure, which can be considered an example of Sicilian industrial archeology, was built by the Fardella family, and is one of the oldest in Sicily, built before the same Tonnara di Favignana. 

It is located in the north coast of Trapani on Punta Tipa between the splendid scenery of the ancient north walls and the Egadi islands. The area where the Tonnara is located is characterized by limestone rocks and dunes with protected halophytic plants (calendula maritima) and by a still intact ecosystem, recently chosen by caretta-caretta turtles for the deposition of their eggs.

Tonnara for sale – Today the ancient building on the Trapani beach of Punta Tipa, also known by the name of “San Giuliano Palazzo”, is for sale. Its price has been set at one million and 600 thousand euros even if it is reduced to a ruin. Angel & Volkers is carrying out the sale negotiations. The Municipality of Trapani is following the evolution of the story with great interest, planning the redevelopment of Punta Tipa, one of the most beautiful and evocative corners of the city even if it is in a state of neglect. In fact, the organization has already signed an agreement to obtain funding of almost five million euros made available by the presidency of the Council of Ministers. The Municipality would like to create an urban park that could act as a tourist and economic driver. Municipal technicians and WWF representatives have already carried out an inspection, together with members of the CNR to obtain favorable opinions. 

The history of the Tonnara – The Tonnara, also known by its original name “San Giuliano Palazzo”, was built in the sixteenth century. Built by the Fardella family from Trapani, it later passed to the Borghese, a noble Roman family, and then to the Serraino family. With the Serraino property, the Tonnara di San Giuliano at the beginning of the 19th century was entrusted to the Trapani industrialist Vito Tipa, who gave it the name of “Tipa Establishment”, used for the conservation of fish products, canned tuna in oil of ‘olive, tuna sausage, tuna egg, products that were exported throughout the national territory.

The conformation of the building –Belonging first to the Municipality of Paceco, then to that of Trapani, the San Giuliano tonnara remained active from until 1961. The tonnara was built around the church dedicated to San Giuliano, of which some remains can be seen, with a structure similar to a beam. It had two entrances, one from the main house and one for the workers. Inside the building there was a large courtyard surrounded by large rooms, the small church, as mentioned, and the first floor, where the accommodations were once located. At the front of the building there was a natural harbor which facilitated the transport of large tuna. The watchtower next to the church represented the border between Trapani and Erice, and is, among other things, considered by various scholars and historians to be one of the five towers that are part of the city’s coat of arms.

Redevelopment and FAI –  For about ten years now, the redevelopment of the Punta Tipa area has begun. In addition to the reclamation of the whole area, the recovery could represent a further qualitative leap for Trapani from a tourist point of view. In the past, for the Tonnara di S.Giuliano it was thought about the creation of a cultural pole, able to attract tourists at an international level, creating conference rooms, a diving center with a marina, where to moor small boats or rafts for excursions, a museum for the tools used by the tuna fishermen until 1973. In recent years, it must be said that, despite the Tonnara being reduced to ruins and that there has been no real redevelopment, the FAI, the Fund for the Italian Environment

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