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Marsala

Marsala
a city with an unmistakable 'aftertaste'.

Marsala is the fifth largest municipality in Sicily, but in terms of prestige it is undoubtedly among the cities with the highest historical and cultural value on the island.
Marsala overlooks the sea and stands on Capo Boeo, the furthest point of western Sicily, a short distance from the Egadi Islands with Favignana in the foreground. Marsala’s historic centre speaks of the history of the city and the history of the nation: crossing Porta Garibaldi, the gate through which Giuseppe Garibaldi passed with the Thousand, to continue the walk to Piazza della Repubblica, where the Mother Church and the Town Hall stand, is an experience every tourist should have.
In addition to the excellent wines, among which the famous liqueur wine ‘il Marsala’ stands out, the city offers exclusive scenery such as the Stagnone lagoon, the largest in Sicily, which includes four small islands including Mozia, the ancient Phoenician city recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A magical place where the salt pans and windmills become the protagonists of a sunset that is hard to forget.

Historic centre of Marsala

The history of Marsala is closely linked to that of ancient Mozia. In the 4th century B.C., the Carthaginian population from the neighbouring island, destroyed by the tyrant of Syracura Dionysius, joined the people of the coast and founded Lilybaeum, ‘the city that looks towards Libya’, a name derived from its proximity to the African coast. The Carthaginians were later defeated by the Romans, who made the city an important Mediterranean trading port. After the Romans, it was the turn of the Arabs, who named the city ‘Marsa Allah’, i.e. port of God, because of its importance in maritime trade. The Arab culture is perhaps the most deeply rooted and present in the tradition of Marsala, which has preserved and passed on many traces through its cuisine and in many words in the dialect.

The most important historical moment for the city was 11 May 1860, when Garibaldi’s troops landed at the port of Marsala, liberating Sicily from Bourbon rule. This date marked the first fundamental step towards the Unification of Italy, which took place a year later.
The history of Marsala is present in every corner and square of the city. Strolling through the old town centre, one can feel a special sensation: try crossing the city from Porta Garibaldi, an authentic symbol for the people of Marsala, to the very central Piazza della Repubblica, where there is the Town Hall and the majestic Mother Church. Legend has it that the construction of the Mother Church took place after the landing in Marsala, forced by adverse sea conditions, of an English ship full of Corinthian columns, destined to build a church in honour of St Thomas of Canterbury. This episode was taken as a divine will, so the construction of the church was started. Today you can admire an elegant façade embellished with statues and two side bell towers.

Historic centre of Marsala

The history of Marsala is closely linked to that of ancient Mozia. In the 4th century B.C., the Carthaginian population from the neighbouring island, destroyed by the tyrant of Syracura Dionysius, joined the people of the coast and founded Lilybaeum, ‘the city that looks towards Libya’, a name derived from its proximity to the African coast. The Carthaginians were later defeated by the Romans, who made the city an important Mediterranean trading port. After the Romans, it was the turn of the Arabs, who named the city ‘Marsa Allah’, i.e. port of God, because of its importance in maritime trade. The Arab culture is perhaps the most deeply rooted and present in the tradition of Marsala, which has preserved and passed on many traces through its cuisine and in many words in the dialect.

The most important historical moment for the city was 11 May 1860, when Garibaldi’s troops landed at the port of Marsala, liberating Sicily from Bourbon rule. This date marked the first fundamental step towards the Unification of Italy, which took place a year later.
The history of Marsala is present in every corner and square of the city. Strolling through the old town centre, one can feel a special sensation: try crossing the city from Porta Garibaldi, an authentic symbol for the people of Marsala, to the very central Piazza della Repubblica, where there is the Town Hall and the majestic Mother Church. Legend has it that the construction of the Mother Church took place after the landing in Marsala, forced by adverse sea conditions, of an English ship full of Corinthian columns, destined to build a church in honour of St Thomas of Canterbury. This episode was taken as a divine will, so the construction of the church was started. Today you can admire an elegant façade embellished with statues and two side bell towers.

"Marsala', Italy's first DOC wine

The birth of Marsala wine is linked to a story that leads straight back to England. It was an Englishman who realised the potential of Marsala’s soils and vineyards. John Woodhouse, a Liverpool merchant, stopped in the port of Marsala due to a storm, which forced him to divert his route. It was in 1726 when, in a typical local tavern, he was offered a glass of the best wine produced, which the peasants called ‘perpetuum’. From here on, captivated by the taste of that wine, Woodhouse decided to expand the market in England to serve it in the most refined and exclusive salons.

In 1832, the first Italian entrepreneur, Vincenzo Florio, entered the game. The Florio family was a wealthy family of entrepreneurs and ship-owners. They used their ships to market and expand the wine market worldwide. They created new factories and wineries and made Marsala a city with an Enlightenment bourgeois style. In 1969, following several plagiarism attempts that damaged its image and reputation, Marsala became the pride of the entire city and Sicily. It is in fact recognised as a Denominazione di Origine Controllata, becoming the first DOC wine in Italy.

A history with an international flavour, that of Marsala, which can be savoured thanks to guided tours of the prestigious Florio and Pellegrino cellars. An intoxicating itinerary of stories and tastings of wine, cured meats and local cheeses. In a city where wine is king, there is no shortage of other culinary delicacies: a stop at a typical street kiosk to enjoy a panelle sandwich or ‘cunzatu’ bread accompanied by a glass of wine is a must. To end the meal at its best, the advice is to try a fig cassatella or a classic Sicilian cannolo. Giardini Mon Plaisir, on request, can also take the tasting inside its villa without having you leave the elegant poolside, to enjoy the pleasure of an excellent glass of wine in the shade of a centuries-old ficus tree.

The Museums and the Punic Ship

Marsala offers a remarkable proposal, in terms of museums and ancient artefacts, for the benefit of visitors interested in the cultural aspects of a holiday in Sicily.
The Baglio Anselmi Archaeological Museum, located on the Boeo promenade, is housed in an old winemaking establishment owned by Carloalberto Anselmi. Inside the museum is the wreck of a Punic ship, found between 1971 and 1974 off the coast of Marsala. It is a warship dating back to the First Punic War, a unique piece in the world.

The Tapestry Museum then consists of eight large Flemish tapestries dating back to 1500, depicting moments from Titus’ war against the Jews. The Whitaker Museum is located on the island of Mozia. This is the first Punic museum in Sicily to house the archaeological artefacts discovered by the Whitaker excavations. The star of the museum is the Young Man of Mozia, a carefully modelled white marble statue of recognised beauty.
On the Stagnone coast, in contrada Ettore Infersa, is the Salt Museum. Nestled among the windmills: the museum houses a series of objects fashioned from salt, various salt processing tools and other equipment illustrating the production process.

The Museums and the Punic Ship

Marsala offers a remarkable proposal, in terms of museums and ancient artefacts, for the benefit of visitors interested in the cultural aspects of a holiday in Sicily.
The Baglio Anselmi Archaeological Museum, located on the Boeo promenade, is housed in an old winemaking establishment owned by Carloalberto Anselmi. Inside the museum is the wreck of a Punic ship, found between 1971 and 1974 off the coast of Marsala. It is a warship dating back to the First Punic War, a unique piece in the world.

The Tapestry Museum then consists of eight large Flemish tapestries dating back to 1500, depicting moments from Titus’ war against the Jews. The Whitaker Museum is located on the island of Mozia. This is the first Punic museum in Sicily to house the archaeological artefacts discovered by the Whitaker excavations. The star of the museum is the Young Man of Mozia, a carefully modelled white marble statue of recognised beauty.
On the Stagnone coast, in contrada Ettore Infersa, is the Salt Museum. Nestled among the windmills: the museum houses a series of objects fashioned from salt, various salt processing tools and other equipment illustrating the production process.

The Stagnone Reserve

The Stagnone Nature Reserve extends from the large inlet of the city of Marsala to the mouth of the river Birgi. Inland are the islands of Mozia, Isola Grande, Schola and Santa Maria as well as the coastal salt pans.

This area is characterised by calm, shallow waters, ideal for salt production. The shallow waters also make it possible to walk to some of the islands, enjoying an exclusive panorama enriched by the presence of marine fauna and numerous species of birds that choose these places for nesting. A vast coastline that makes it possible to enjoy a long walk, or bicycle ride, while observing all the islands of the Stagnone one next to the other. A spectacle that combines nature, history and the works of man that make this place a precious destination.

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