The City
With a population of 80,000, Marsala is the fifth-largest Sicilian municipality in number, and certainly among the more interesting, from the archeological and monumental points of view, as well as in landscape.
The territory of Marsala consists of more than one hundred districts, and its economy is based mostly on agriculture, with more than one million hectoliters of wine produced each year, as well as a large quantity of vegetables and flowers. Marsala wine (Link su Vino Marsala), in fact, is the product that put Marsala on the map, and was a leading factor in the development of the city’s economy.
Marsala sits on the westernmost point of the island of Sicily, jutting into the ocean at the Boeo Cape, overlooking the archipelago of the Egadi Islands and beyond, toward Africa. The sea and its 14 Km of coastline along Marsala are among the city’s principal resources. Of particular interest is the Stagnone Lagoon, a nature reserve off which the islands, salt marshes, and windmills reflect.

A Brief History of Marsala
Whether you arrive in Marsala from Trapani (the province in which the city lies) to the north, or Mazara del Vallo to the south, you will notice a sign that reads, ‘Welcome to Marsala, the City of Wine”. Indeed, Marsala is Sicily’s largest wine-producing center, best known for its sweet dessert wine. An elegant town of stately Baroque-era buildings and quaint shops, Marsala was founded by the Phoenicians upon their escape from Mozia, a small island in the Stagnone Lagoon.
In 997 B.C., Dionysus of Syracuse conquered the island, and destroyed it in the process, forcing its inhabitants, the Phoenicians, to flee. Those who did manage to escape settled on Cape Lilibeo, where they built massive walls, fortifying the city. In fact, Lilibeo flourished later became a major Carthaginian city, and the last of the Punic settlements to fall to the Romans. In A.D. 830, the Arabs arrived from Tunisia, and called the city “Marsa Allah,” or, “Port of God,” where they built a major trade center.

Garibaldi and “The Thousand”
Of course, the history of Marsala continues through modern times. In fact, in 1860, it was here that Giuseppe Garibaldi, “The Hero of Two Worlds,” landed with his famous “I Mille,” or “The Thousand”, and began the revolution to unify Italy. It is said that he rode a white horse that he named after the city.
In later years, Garibaldi shared a home in New York with hid friend and compatriot, Antonio Meucci, the famous inventor. The statue erected in his honor still stands today in Washington Square Park. He and his “red shirts” can are also paid tribute on the (pre-Euro) thousand lire bill.

Florio, Woodhouse, Nelson, and Whitaker
Even a brief history of Marsala would not be complete without mentioning John Woodhouse and Vincenzo Florio. Woodhouse landed at Marsala in 1773, and ‘discovered’ that the local wine produced in the area, and aged in wooden barrels, tasted similar to the Portuguese “Porto”. Eventually, this fortified wine found such success in England that he returned to Sicily in 1796, and became a pioneer in the mass production and commercialization of Marsala wine.
The legendary Admiral Horatio Nelson, who defeated Napoleon Bonaparte in the Battle of ther Nile, spent a great deal of time in the northwest region of Sicily, between Palermo and Marsala. It was he who introduced Marsala wine to the British Navy as an alternative to Port, and even suggested a regimen of one glass per day.
Joseph Whitaker, a young English entrepreneur and archeologist, inherited a vast vineyard in Marsala, upon which he founded a “baglio,” or typical Sicilian wine estate. From this baglio, Whitaker made a fortune exporting wine to the U.S. and England around the turn of the 19th century In his later years, Whitaker is known to have bought the island of Mozia, where he founded an archeological museum and published important studies of Tunisian birds. However, his influence on Marsala’s development and economy, even today, cannot be overstated.
In the beginning of the 19th Century, Vincenzo Florio, an entrepreneur from Palermo, purchased the Woodhouse wine industry and set out to create his very own vintage, with a more exclusive breed of grapes. During that time, often referred to as la belle epoque, the Florio family were considered one the richest of Italy . They also owned one of the first tuna canneries, from the tonnara (fisheries) of the Egadi Islands, as well as a large fishing vessel that was one of the first to bring tuna from Marsala across the Atlantic to New York. Although the family retired from industry after World War I, their name remains one of the largest and most recognizable in Marsala wine production.

Monuments and Museums
Walking from the Capo Lilibeo, one passes through a grand Renaissance arch, the Porta Nuova, and enters the “pedestrian zone,” surrounding the historic center. The road leads to elegant streets lines with stately buildings all the way to the Piazza della Repubblica, where one comes face-to-face with the impressive Cathedral. On the opposite end of the square, one finds the Palazzo Senatorio (Senatorial Palace), which today serves as the town hall.
The Cathedral of Marsala, located in the heart of the city, is dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury. Originally built by the Normans, the façade of the church was only completed in 1956, with the help of donations from emigrants of the city. The Cathedral boasts sculptures by artists of the Gagini school.

Museo Regionale Baglio Anselmi
Via Lungomare Boero
Tel: +39.0923.952.535;
Visiting schedule:9:30am-1:30pm,Mon-Wed.4:30pm-6:30pm,Thur-Sun. Admission: 2 €
Along the Lungomare Boeo lies one of the most extraordinary remains of the Phoenecian civilization, nearly extinguished by the Romans during the Punic wars. Marsala’s finest treasure is the Carthaginian “Liburna,” a reconstructed warship 35 meters long, thought to have been part of the Roman fleet attack of 241 BC during “the Battle of the Egadi”.

Museo degli Arazzi Fiamminghi
Via Giuseppe Garraffa, 57
Tel: +39.0923.712.903
Visiting schedule: 9.00am-1.00pm /4.00pm-6.00pm .Tue-Sunday.
Admission:2 €
The name of this museum, which translates as “The Museum of Flemish Tapestries,” reflects its contents—a display of eight magnificent Flemish tapestries sewn in Brussels (1530-1550) and gifted by the Spanish King Felipe II to the archbishop of Messina, Antonio Lombardo (1523-1595), who was born in Marsala. The tapestries depict the Roman capture of Jerusalem from the Saracens.

Complesso Monumentale San Pietro
Via Ludovico Anselmi Correale
Tel: +39.0923.718.741
Visiting schedule: 9.00am-1.00pm / 4.00pm-8.00pm.
Admission: free
A former Benedictine monastery of the XVI century, the Monumental Complex is a beautifully restored building that holds a permanent exhibition on Giuseppe Garibaldi. An archeological section includes objects from Lilibeo’s necropolis and an area dedicated to Sicilian folk tradition.

Convento del Carmine
Piazza del Carmine
Visiting schedule: 10.00am-1.00pm / 5.00pm-7.00pm. Tue-Sunday. Admission: free
The convent building, dated AD 1115 was given to the Carmelite order of nuns by Adelaide, the widow of Roger I, the Norman King of Sicily. After years of neglect, the convent, itself a work of art, has recently been restored and returned to its former glory, and is today an art gallery.


Holy Thursday Procession
Thursday before Easter Sunday (March or April), Annually.
Easter, the most important holiday of the Catholic Church, is a widely celebrated occasion in Sicily. Among the numerous traditional and religious events and processions of Holy Week, the “Marsalese” is one of the most important. Many participants, actors and children dressed in colorful costumes representing saints and other religious figures, depict the events leading up to the crucifiction of Jesus Christ.

Madonna della Cava
The patron saint of the city, Madonna della Cava has her sanctuary in a grotto in the Porticella neighborhood, where her image was discovered inside well during the 6th century. The Madonna is celebrated each year with a procession of the faithful on the 19th of January.

San Giuseppe
Each year, on the 19th of March, a poor family is selected to symbolize the Holy Family- Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus. The family is invited to a banquet on an open-air altar, perched above the Marsalese meadows. The banquet is carefully choreographed to represent the nourishment and participation of the common people.

San Giovanni
This compatriot of the city is celebrated on the 24th of June each year, with a demonstration that combines the sacred with the profane. The faithful visit the well of Sybil, where they pray for happiness and fortune.

Manifestazioni Garibaldine
In May of each year, the city of Marsala reenacts Garibaldi’s disembarkment, with demonstrations and exhibits over the course of a weekend, and sometimes as long as a week. The celebrations include conventions and forums on the themes of the Risorgimento, or “Resurgence”, guided tours, and food samples from that era.

Marsala Wine Festival
The international show of sweet and distilled wines and liquors takes place here every two years at mid-October, and includes various activities. The festivities include laboratories for tasting, regional delicacy displays, conventions, guided tours, and excursions.

Summer Together: Estate Insieme
Each year, from July through September, a full itinerary of community events take place throughout the center of the city. Events include open-air cinema within the breathtaking St. Peter’s monument complex; musical, theater and cabaret performances; and traditional folk and cultural activities. The combination of colors, lights, and life renders the city a truly magnificent scene, allowing for entire evenings of carefree enjoyment and community participation.

Marsala’s open-air fresh produce market, Piazza dell’Addolorata

Mozia, or Motya, is the only surviving Carthaginian site (XVII century BC). Located just 5 km north of Marsala following the coastal road SP 21, the site can be found on the Isle of San Pantaleo- one of the small islands in “Lo Stagnone,” a lagoon and nature reserve among the salt flats between Marsala and Trapani.
To get there, you can take the ferry, stationed at an old windmill, which leaves for the island every 10 min. (9am-7pm) If you are adventurous, you can walk- the water between the mainland and the island of San Pantaleo is only 1 meter deep.
The Island of San Pantaleo was re-discovered by Joseph Whitaker, a highly regarded archeologist and English entrepreneur, in 1913. He eventually became a successful vintner and trader.
Upon his retirement, Whitaker bought the island of San Pantaleo, and built a Villa.
He ultimately spent decades digging and assembling a unique collection of Phoenician artifacts, including an ancient port and a dry dock. The Villa he constructed, known as “Villa Whitaker,” is now a Museum owned by the Whitaker Foundation.
The main treasure at Villa Whitaker is a masterpiece of ancient Greek art, “the Giovinetto di Mozia”. Discovered on the island in 1979, the Giovinetto is one of the greatest surviving Greek sculptures in the world. Carved in the early 5th century BC of Anatolian marble (Turkey), the statue of the “young boy” stands with one hand on his hip, and is dressed in a sensual long Phoenician-style tunic, his muscular, yet exquisitely graceful body implies a sensuality often compared to other Greek statues of the same period. If you love ancient art, Mozia is a “must”.

The Stagnone Islands and The Windmills
Continue driving along the coast on the SS115, and you will come across one of the most attractive and picturesque spots in all of Sicily- the “saline,” or salt marshes, and the Stagnone Islands Natural Reserve. Take in the blond landscape with shallow pools and frothy mounds of salt beneath the “mulini a vento,” or windmills, used for draining water from the basins where salt collects. The marine salt from these marshes is considered some the best in Italy and has been exported as far as Norway since the 17th century.
While the wooden windmills using Archimedes screws to move the water are mostly decorative, they are truly picturesque “industrial monuments’ along the waters of the lagoon, and some are also accessible to the public as museums or restaurants. Despite the fact that the salt business is not as extensive as it once was (today, the area is a natural reserve, well-protected from industrial pollution and indiscriminate building construction), it is certainly worth visting for the sheer beauty of the scene, as well as the opportunity for some excellent bird watching.

The Ocean Way
For many years, Marsala’s coast has been considered one of the purest, cleanest, and most beautiful in all of Europe. In fact, the city of Marsala can count the “Bandiera Blu,” or European “Blue Ribbon” for ocean purity and beach facilities, among its prizes. Its coastline extends south for ten kilometers toward the District of Petrosino; to the north, it travels approximately 15 kilometers to Birgi-Marausa. The beaches are predominantly sandy, several of which are serviced with showers and umbrella rentals.
“La Via del Mare,” or, ”The Ocean Way”, is the head of the turistic port, with nearly 200 boat slips. There is also a commercial port, where a fleet of boats is dedicated to the fishing of tuna and swordfish.
From the Cape of Boeo, the westernmost point of Italy, one can catch a glimpse of the Egadi Islands (Favignana, Levanzo, and Marettimo), reachable by hydrofoil. This is also the place to come for water sports. From here, one can enjoy the many water activities offered all year round, including canoeing, surfing, kite flying, and windsurfing, for which the breezy climate is well-suited. The low tide “uncovers” and renders passable the submerged road that once connected Mozia to the Birgi necropolis. An additional point of interest is the antique fish market, which can be found in the Spanish quarter, a short walk from the Port of Garibaldi, in the heart of the historic center of the city.

Wineries (see also FOOD AND WINE)
There are several wineries in and around Marsala that one can visit. Many of these picturesque “Bagli,” or traditional Sicilian wine estates, were built over several generations, and still produce wine using old-fashioned, time-honored techniques. Guided tours and tasting rooms are often available.
We do not have precise information regarding wineries at this time. We will publish all necessary facts and useful tips for your trip through Marsala’s wine country just as soon as possible.

Practical info
To call from abroad you will need to dial: +39 (Italy) 0923 (Area code) + Telephone number.
From Italy you need to dial “00” + your country code + desired number
(es. 00.+1 .212. to New York)
You can also rent a cellular phone while you are here, or bring your own a tri- or quad-band to be reached.
You can buy prepaid phone cards (schede prepagate) you at the newspaper stands and tobacconist shops. Postage stamps are available here, as well.

Banks and ATM's
Bank Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday 9.00am-4.00pm (with a one-hour mid-day break) , closed Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays.
ATM machines are available 24h per day, however they are located only at banks, and mostly in the city center.
Credit cards are accepted in shops, hotels, restaurant and gas stations.

Shopping (see also WHERE)
Business hours: 9.00am-1.00pm; 3.30pm 8.00pm Mon-Saturday.
Some shops, though, may also be open on Sunday, depending on the business and the season (and often open later in the summer months).

The currency is the Euro €, issued in notes (5 €, 10 €,20 €, 50 €, 100 €, 500 €) and in coins (1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents,10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 €, 2€).
Money can be changed at the airports, money exchange bureaus, and at the post office. Traveler’s checks can be changed by most hotels and resorts.

Emergency health service 118 (toll free#)
Pharmacies can be identified by a green (or sometimes red) cross, and always have a doctor on duty. They are generally closed in the evenings, though most large cities have at least one pharmacy that remains open 24 hours. When closed, pharmacies post the name and address of the pharmacy on duty and a list of doctors for emergency.

Police (first aid)
Call 113 or 112 (toll free#) from any telephone.

Municipal Police
Via Ernesto Del Giudice
tel. 0923.993100 - 723224

Tourist Information
Tourist office Tel: 0923.714097
via XI Maggio, 100; 8.00am-2.00pm 3.00pm-8.00pm Mon-Sat 9.00am-12.00 Sun.
Information booths are available along “Lungomare Boero” and in the city center.

english translation by VALERIA R. CASALE
Situated in Marsala’s elegant and refined historical center, between... >>



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