Marsala is the ancient Lilibeo, a remote Phoenician village that over time became the most important Punic base in Sicily. Founded in 397 B.C. by the inhabitants of Motya, nothing or almost nothing remains of the Punic city. Only a very valuable relic remains, a punic ship found in the Lagoon of the Stagnone in 1969 and now on display in the Baglio Anselmi Museum.
Lilibeo soon became a Roman city, establishing itself as the main port of connection with Africa. The Arabs changed its name to Marsala from Marsa Allah, the ‘port of God’. May 11, 1860, the city of Marsala welcomed the troops of Garibaldi, landed without any French resistance in Sicily. It was the beginning of the liberation of Sicily from the Bourbon domination and the first step towards the unification of Italy.
Marsala, since 2013 “European City of Wine”, is famous all over the world for its fortified wine that is aged in fine wooden barrels. There are many wineries that offer tastings and guided tours, including the famous Cantine Florio.
The most famous monument of the city is the Mother Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, which has undergone many changes since its ancient and original Norman foundation. The Tapestry Museum preserves magnificent Flemish tapestries of the ‘500.
Moving away from the old town, along what has been renamed the ‘salt way’, there are the picturesque salt pans, inside the Stagnone Lagoon Nature Reserve. A place of rare charm, with the white pyramids of salt and the characteristic windmills that resist the pace of time.