It had been a while since we’d been on any proper excursions and since the weather looked more promising than it had recently, we decided to take a little road trip to the city of Marsala. Marlsala is located on the western-most point of Sicily and is best known for its sweet desert wine. The city only merited a very brief mention in our guidebook, which surprised us a little as we thought it was quite famous. Undeterred, we decided that we wanted to see what was there for ourselves.
After an hour-and-a-half’s drive we reached the outskirts of the city, and we started to understand why it wasn’t given more space in the guidebook. For more than 15 minutes we saw nothing but poor neighbourhoods, dilapidated houses, boarded-up shops and no indications of any city-center. We came close to turning around and heading somewhere else, but we were suddenly directed on to a small side street, leading towards the sea, and what we later found out was the historical center.
In the old-town the atmosphere was completely different. Founded in 400BC by the Carthaginians, it was under Roman rule that the city saw its first real prosperity and took its current layout. Later, under Arab rule, the city was called “Marsa Allah” (port of Allah) and that’s where the present name can be traced to. The core of the city, earlier surrounded by a stone wall, is now accessible through an impressive gate, leading to straight, perpendicular streets and impressive churches.
After a wonderful lunch at a local trattoria where we tried the local pasta specialities (one with tuna, peas and mint, and the other with aubergines and chilli) we wandered around the old-town, admiring the architectural details and the inviting stores.
Too bad they were all (as usual) closed for their daily siesta. But we didn’t mind too much since it’s a nice reason for us to return.