The history of San Vito lo Capo is related to the one of its Sanctuary
Everything starts whit a legend that tells us about a young man named Vito, the son of a rich Roman living in Sicily, who was converted to Christianity . He escaped from the persecution of the king Diocletian, so he left his home together with his nurse and his tutor.
After two days of navigation, a storm forced him to stay in the bay, sheltered from the wind. Vito, Modesto and Crescenzia tryed to convert the villagers of Conturrana to Christianity, which was situated about three kilometers far from the sea, under a high rock. But they did not succeed and they were driven out with violence. But God punished the villagers; in fact, they were buried under an avalanche.
Now it is possible to see a little chapel dedicated to Holy Crescentia, before you arrive to the small town built by the people coming from Erice in the sixteenth century.
The story of this martyrdom caused great excitement among the people of this area, and after this event was built the first chapel nearby the sea, dedicated to H. Vito. Over the centuries, the chapel became a destination for many pilgrims, who donated their goods to enlarge and embellish it .
Initially built around the fourth century, it was a small chapel dedicated to Saint Vito the martyr. Nowadays, after several construction projects, the sanctuary looks like a massive fortress with a pleasant facade for its warm colours.
Around the church was built a fortress that was used to protect it from pirates and give shelter to the growing number of the believers.