Marsala is a city located on western coast if Sicily some 30 kilometers south of Trapani. This seaport city lays on the coastal edge of Sicily’s wine country. It is a popular stop point for yachts heading to Tunisia or the island of Pantelleria. The city’s current name was given to it by the Saracens in recognition of the scale of its ancient port. Marsala’s is famous for its eponymous wine, discovered in the 18th century by an English trader, John Woodhouse, and now popular all over the world as a chilled aperitif or dessert wine.
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Location and climate
This is the largest multicultural region in Italy, and one of the largest ones in Europe. It is best known for the production of Marsala wine. Typical Mediterranean climate can be found in Marsala with mild and slightly rainy winters and hot and dry summers. Most of the harbors along the south coast are liable to swell in strong southerly winds which are, however, rare outside the winter months.
History and sights
It was founded by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC on a small island of Mozia, but it was destroyed by Dionysius II of Syracuse in 397 BC. The citizens escaped and founded Lilibeo, „looking at Libia“, known today as Marsala. The Romans made it their main naval base, and under their rule Marsala enjoyed considerable prosperity. After the fall of the Roman Empire, it was devastated by the Vandals in the 5th century. In the 6th century, it passes into hands of the Byzantine Emperor Giustiniano who was not very interested in Sicily since it was frequently pillaged by pirates. The Arabs gave it its present name, which derives from the Arab „Marsa Allah“- the port of Allah, or „Marsa Ali“- the great port. After two centuries of decline, during which the city assumed its Baroque appearance, Marsala flourished again thanks to the wine industry.
Marsala is the fifth largest Sicilian municipality with a population of 80 000 people. The territory consists of more than 100 districts. The economy is founded upon agriculture, with large amounts of the world’s most famous wine produced each year, as well as a sizable amount of vegetables and flowers. The tourist zones of Segesta, Erice, Selinunte, the Egadi Islands and Pantelleria are easily reached from Marsala. City district of Marsala is very charming and busy, especially during summer. There you can enjoy local cooking in restaurants and pizzerias, and wine bars and cafes are open all night. A walk around the old part of town taking in the heady scents of the local wineries is a rewarding experience, especially if followed by a sampling of the wonderful stravecchio at one of the many excellent trattorias. The town itself is astonishingly attractive, with numerous Spanish-style palaces dating back to the 15th-18th centuries.
How to arrive?
The easiest way to reach Marsala is by plane. The nearest airport is Sen. Vincenzo Florio in Trapani, 15 kilometers from Marsala. Or you can fly to Palermo Punta Raisi international airport, 110 kilometers from Marsala, that connects Sicily to all major Italian airports, as well as some international ones.
The nearest port is in Trapani and can be reached by ferries coming from Cagliari. Marsala has several tourist harbors, which are run by Circolo Velico, Lega Navale Italiana, Navy and by Societa Canottieri.