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Marsala, Province of Trapani, Sicily

Marsala is a seaport city located in the westernmost point of the island, best known as the source of Marsala wine. Known in Greek times as Lilybaeum, very little is left today of that period: fragments of the city walls, of squared stones, and some foundations of buildings between the walls and the sea, as well as the so-called grotto and spring of the Sibyl. The modern town takes the shape of the Roman camp within the earlier city, one of the gates of which still existed in 1887.

Info

  • Population: ca. 80,000 inhabitants
  • Zip/postal code: 91025
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 0923
  • Patron Saint: Madonna della Cava, celebrated on 19 January

Administrative Division

The comune includes the following Frazioni and Localities: Addolorata, Amabilina, Bambina, Baronazzo, Berbarello, Birgi Novi, Birgi Vecchi, Bosco, Bufalata, Canale, Cardilla, Casabianca, Casazze, Catenazzi, Ciancio, Ciappola, Ciavolo, Ciavolotto, Conca, Cozzaro, Cuore di Gesù, Cutusio, Dammusello, Dara, Digerbato, Ettore Infersa, Fontanelle, Fornara, Giardinello, Giunchi, Granatello, Gurgo, Matarocco, Misilla, Paolini, Pastorella, Pispisia, Ponte Fiumarella, Rakalia, Ranna, S.Anna, Santi Filippo e Giacomo, San Leonardo, San Michele R., Santo Padre Perriere, San Silvestro, Scacciaiazzo, Spagnola, Stazzone, Sturiano, Tabaccaro, Terrenove, Torrelunga Puleo, Ventrischi.

History - Antiquity

Marsala occupies the site of Lilybaeum, the main stronghold of the Carthaginians in Sicily, founded by Himilco in 396 BC after the abandonment of Motya. Neither Pyrrhus nor the Romans were able to reduce it by siege, but it surrendered to the latter in 241 BC at the end of the First Punic War. In later wars it was a starting point for the Roman expeditions against Carthage, and under Roman rule it enjoyed considerable prosperity. It obtained municipal rights from Augustus and became a colony under either Septimius Severus.

History - the Middle Ages and Modern Times

The Saracens gave it its present name, Marsa Ali, port of Ali. The harbor that lay on the northeast was destroyed by Charles V to prevent its occupation by pirates. On May 11, 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi and his "thousand" red-shirted volunteers landed at Marsala and began the march that ultimately led to Italy's unification.

What to see

  • To the east of the town, the great ditch which defended it on the land side, and beyond this there are quarries similar to the "latomie" of Syracuse, though on a smaller scale.
  • The Roman Insula: in 1939, during excavations for the building of sports facilities near the Bolo Cape, a wide Roman complex of the 3rd century AD came to light. It consisted of a huge villa and south of it 2 smaller, later houses. The villa had many locals around a wide hall, and to the left the thermal baths, decorated with multi-colored mosaics. In the area also other constructions were later excavated, among them warehouses, Phoenician cisterns, and an early Christian necropolis.
  • The Archaeological Museum: hosted in the Baglio Anselmi, a wine-production complex, the museum collects items from prehistoric to Roman times, mostly coming from areas of Marsala, Mazara del Vallo, the ancient Punic town Motia, and the Lilibeo necropolis. Of great interest in the museum is a punic ship of the 3rd century BC, found in 1979 near Capo San Teodoro, the only example of this warship in the world.
  • The Enomuseum, 3km to the south west, which exhibits tools of the wine-making tradition of the area, that since the early 19th century has produced the classic "Marsala" as well as other quality wines.

Where to stay