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Marsala (TP)

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Marsala (Trapani Province) is 31.5 km from Trapani, alt. 12 m, on Cape Boeo (the ancient Lilybaeum), the western-most point of Sicily, area 241.6 sq km, pop. 80,.355, post-code 91025, tel. 0923. Economy: Agriculture (grapes); wine industry and derivatives, various other industries, and tourism.

Marsala's origins are very ancient. In the 8th century BC, the Phoenicians founded the city of Mozia (Motya) in the nearby Stagnone lagoon. Subsequently, refugees from Motya, fleeing from invasion and destruction by Dionysius I of Siracusa, founded Marsala. Probably already known as Lilybaeum, it became an important Carthaginian military bast, defended by an impressive boundary wall of which traces still remain. After falling under Roman domination, it was the starting-point of the expedition against Carthage led by Scipio, later known as Africanus. The Romans were followed by the Vandals of Gaiseric and then the Byzantines. When it fell to the Muslims they called it Marsa-Allah, i.e. Port of Allah. The town prospered considerably in the Middle Ages as an important center of trade and commerce.

The Normans took Marsala in 1072, rebuilt the castle and constructed churches and convents.

A period of decline began towards the middle of the 16th century, but the town, still fortified by its robust boundary wall, continued to be the headquarters of a military garrison and to play in important strategic role.

In the 18th century some enterprising Englishmen set up the first establishment producing marsala wine, which was to have a considerable impact on the local economy.

Of interest: The Punic traces, and the Greco-Roman Archaeological Park, the Regional Museum.

Also: Museo degli arazzi; 18th century Palazzo della Loggia; Chiesa and the Convento di San Pietro are a few steps away, in Via XI Maggio; Collegio Gesuitico, seat of the Civic Contemporary Art Gallery; Porta di Mare (Sea Gate), also known as Porta Geribaldi, in memory of the Landing of the Thousand on 11 May 1860; Marsala Town Hall built in the 16th century; Museo Archaeologico; Museum; Remains of the Punic Walls; Two groups of Punic tombs; Cape Boeo, where the Greco-Roman Archaeological Park is; an insula of the ancient city (3rd-4th c. BC) with the ruins of Roman dwellings; The Norman Castle.

Churches (Mazara del Vallo Diocese) included the following:

S. Tommaso di Cantorbery (Duomo)
Chiesa del Carmine (16th century, historic)
Chiesa dell'Itriella (16th century, historic)
Chiesa of San Giovanni (historic)
Chiesa di Santa Maria della Grotta (historic)
Madonna della Sapienza
Maria SS. Ausiliatrice
S. Anna
San Francesco di Paola (18th century)
S. Matteo
Maria SS. Addolorata (Addolorata - suburb of Marsala)
S. Giovanni Maria Vianney (Amabilins - suburb of Marsala)
SS. Filippo e Giacomo (Bufalata - suburb of Marsala)
Maria SS. Madre della Chiesa (Ciancio - suburb ofMarsala)
Maria SS. della Cava (Ciavolo - suburb of Marsala)
Maria SS. delle Grazie Al Puleo (Matarocco - suburb of Marsala)
Maria SS. Immacolata (Ragattisi - suburb of Marsala)
S. Leonardo Abate (Ragattisi - suburb of Marsala)
S. Francesco di Paola (Santo Padre delle Perriere - suburb of Marsala)
Maria SS. del Rosario (Spagnola - suburb of Marsala)
Maria SS. Addolorata (Strasatti di Marsala - suburb of Marsala)
SS. Trinita' (Tabaccaro - suburb of Marsala)
Maria SS. Bambina (Terrenove Bambina - suburb of Marsala)

Families researched in these records include the following:


Links to other sites about Marsala include:

Ancient Sicily
Marsala Photos
Sicilian Net
Sicily Web
Italian Wikipedia
Italian Towns
Italian Postal Codes

My latest book on CD is titled Sicily - A Reference for Researchers and is now available. With a file for each town (plus many other files), it relates the history of Sicily as reflected in the photos, records and festivals of its towns. It contains over 2500 text and photo files and can be ordered at CD order.

Order Italy Kathy Kirkpatrick

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© Kathy Kirkpatrick 2002-2009