|City of Marsala|
Salt evaporation ponds at Marsala
|• Mayor||Alberto Di Girolamo (PD)|
|• Total||241.6 km2 (93.3 sq mi)|
|Elevation||3 m (10 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
|Patron saint||Our Lady of the Cave (Madonna della Cava) and Saint John the Baptist|
|Saint day||respectively 19 January and 24 June|
Marsala (Italian pronunciation: [marˈsala] ; Sicilian : Maissala, pronounced [majsˈsalà] ; Latin : Lilybaeum) is an Italian town located in the Province of Trapani in the westernmost part of Sicily. Marsala is the most populated town in its province and the fifth in Sicily.
The town is famous for the docking of Giuseppe Garibaldi on 11 May 1860 (the Expedition of the Thousand ) and for its Marsala wine. A feature of the area is the Stagnone Lagoon Natural Reserve — a marine area with salt ponds.
Marsala is built on the ruins of the ancient Carthaginian city of Lilybaeum, and includes in its territory the archaeological site of the island of Motya, an ancient Phoenician town. The modern name likely derived from the Arabic مَرْسَى عَلِيّ (marsā ʿaliyy, “Ali's harbor”), or possibly مَرْسَى اللّٰه (marsā llāh, “God's harbor”).
Situated at the extreme western point of Sicily, the town was founded on Lilibeo Cape from where the Aegadian Islands and the Stagnone Lagoon can be seen.
The territory of Marsala, 241 square kilometres (93 sq mi), has a rich cultural and landscape heritage; its area includes the Stagnone Lagoon, a Natural Reserve in which is located the island of Mozia.
The city of Marsala had a population of about 86,000 until the end of 1970, when Petrosino, a village formerly part of Marsala, decided to become a self-governing town after a local referendum.
The area of Marsala is classified as a seismic zone 2 (medium). In the last 200 years three earthquakes of medium-high intensity were recorded:
Marsala has a hot-summer mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa), similar to most coastal towns in Sicily, with hot and dry summers coupled with moderately wet and mild winters. Weather in Marsala is similar to that of nearby Trapani.
Summers are generally warm with a record maximum temperature of 37 °C (99 °F) in August 2017. In the summer, due to how dry it is, it is not unusual to experience the effect of Sirocco wind, which brings dust and sand from the Sahara.
Winters are generally rainy and cooler with temperatures ranging between minimum of 1 °C (34 °F) (in December 2014) and 21 °C (70 °F). Snowfall occurs very rarely, since the temperature has never dropped below freezing, although snow has fallen before, for example in December 2014.
|Climate data for Marsala, Sicily (Temperatures 1961–1990; humidity, sunlight and precipitation 1973–present)|
|Record high °C (°F)||22.0|
|Average high °C (°F)||16.0|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||11.8|
|Average low °C (°F)||7.7|
|Record low °C (°F)||1.2|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||56|
|Average relative humidity (%) (daily average)||82||81||80||76||74||72||72||74||76||79||82||82||77.5|
|Mean daily sunshine hours||5||5||6||7||9||11||12||11||9||7||5||4||7.58|
|Source 1: Archivio Climatico - Enea|
|Source 2: Clima Marsala - Medie climatiche|
In Greek mythology, the Argonaut Butes was the only who jumped in the sea while the Argonauts were sailing past the Sirens because he couldn't resist the charm of their singing, but Aphrodite saved him and transferred him to Lilybaeum.
The Carthaginian army sent to conquer Selinunte in 409 BC landed and camped near the site of the later Lilybaeum. In 397 BC when the Phoenician colony of Motya on the southwestern coast of Sicily was invaded and destroyed by the Syracusan tyrant Dionysius I, the survivors founded a town on the mainland nearby, the site of modern-day Marsala, which they called by a Punic name, recorded in Greek as Lilýbaion (Λιλύβαιον) and in Latin as Lilybaeum. It became a great city in the following two centuries under the Carthaginians as a trade centre for manufactured goods and their power base, and serving as a strategic port between Carthage and their territories in Sardinia. It was built with strong defensive walls from the beginning and had three linked harbours. Punic Lilybaion was never conquered although it was besieged several times e.g. by Pyrrhus of Epirus and the Romans. The walls were ultimately over 10m high and 7m thick. They were strengthened for Pyrrhus' Siege of Lilybaeum in 279 BC by a second wall 10m from the first. The siege lasted 2 months before he withdrew. It was the only city which Pyrrhus could not conquer during his campaign at Sicily.
The First Punic War began here when the Punic army landed at Lilybaion in 265–264 BC, then marched across Sicily to Messina, where the opening clash of the war took place.
In 250 BC the Romans sent a huge naval expedition of up to 240 ships towards Lilybaeum, the Carthaginian headquarters. A massive Roman army of 4 legions under the two consuls was also sent.The Carthaginians also understood the importance of this port and put their whole force together to save the city including about 10,000 mercenaries (Celts and Greeks). The Carthaginians sailed 50 ships from Africa under the command of Hannibal to try to save the city by charging towards the centre of the harbour. The Romans did not attempt to stop the entry of the fleet because of their sudden appearance and unfavourable winds in a foreign port.
The Roman fleet was defeated at Drepana in 249 BC when attempting a surprise attack there, followed by the destruction of the rest of the fleet soon afterwards in a storm. This forced the Romans to settle in for a long siege.
The Siege of Lilybaeum (250 BC) lasted for 9 years without Roman success. Carthage was able to reinforce and re-supply Lilybaeum during the war. Some of the Gallic mercenaries planned to betray the city but Alexon, who had previously saved Agrigentum from similar treachery, foiled the plot by informing the Carthaginian commander Himilco.
In 241 BC the city was given to the Romans as part of the peace treaty ending the First Punic War and then became one of the most important cities in Sicily.
In 218 BC, in the Second Punic War, the Battle of Lilybaeum was fought between the navies of Carthage and Rome when Carthage attempted a secret raid on the city to re-establish a base. Marcus Amellius, the praetor at Lilybaeum, was told about the impending raid and prepared his 20 ships which managed to defeat the 50 opposing quinqeremes.
In the republican period the city was enriched with mansions and public buildings and dubbed splendidissima urbs by Cicero, who served as quaestor in the region between 76 and 75 BC. During the Civil Wars Lilybaeum was twice besieged, in 43 BC by Sextus Pompeius and 38 by Lepidus during which the walls were further strengthened as shown by an inscription.
The city walls were abandoned in the 4th c. AD as shown by buildings erected over or beside the walls.
The city was the seat of the Diocese of Lilybaeum from at least the early 5th century AD. Ravaged by Vandals during the 5th century AD, the town was annexed in the 6th century to Justinian's Byzantine Empire. In this period the town was struck by dysentery, raided by pirates, and neglected by Constantinople. The arrival of Arabic Berbers at the nearby Granitola mount in the 8th century entailed the resumption of commerce and the start of the rebirth of the town. The town was renamed Marsa ʿAlī "ʿAlī's harbour" or maybe, Marsa ʿāliyy, "Big harbour", for the width of the ancient harbour, placed near Punta d'Alga. Another possible derivation is Marsa Allāh, "God's harbour". Another theory is that Marsala comes from mare salis, "salt pans by the sea" from the presence of salt pans along the whole northern coast, although mention of this theory cannot be found in contemporary references and the installation of the bigger salt ponds on the group of islands composing the contemporary single island "Isola Lunga" was made just during the 19th century.
Since the end of the 11th century, the area has been conquered by Norman, Angevin and Aragonese troops. During this time, Marsala became wealthy, primarily through trade. However the blocking up of the harbour of Punta Alga, decreed by Emperor Charles V so as to stop Saracen forays, brought an end to this period of prosperity.
The development of Marsala wine at the end of the 18th century, headed by English merchants settled in Sicily, considerably improved local trade. This triggered an economic expansion in Marsala, including the funding of infrastructure projects such as the current harbour of Margitello.
On 11 May 1860 Giuseppe Garibaldi landed at Marsala, beginning the process of Italian unification.
On 11 May 1943, in the lead-up to the World War II Allied invasion of Sicily, an Allied bombardment of the town permanently damaged its Baroque centre and claimed many victims: "Marsala Wiped Off the Map" titled the New York Times on 13 May 1943.
The archaeological area of Marsala has been investigated both through excavations and topographic studies. Lilybaeum, the ancient town, took up a rectangular area on Capo Boeo, a low and rocky promontory sloping gently down towards the sea. The urban layout of the town can be dated back to the 2nd century BC with modern-day Viale Vittorio Veneto the Decumanus Maximus and Viale Cesare Battisti the Cardo Maximus.
Based on the archaeological findings at Capo Boeo, Lilybaeum was rebuilt twice, in the 1st century BC and in the 3rd century AD. There is not enough evidence to associate the latter with the 365 Crete earthquake, even though literature and archaeological discoveries elsewhere show that other Sicilian towns, such as Selinunte, were affected.
Several fragments of the city walls and floors and walls of public and private buildings are visible. Excavations in several places under the modern city have revealed rich mosaic floors in town houses.
The Baglio Anselmi Archaeological Museum houses an example of Carthaginian ship possibly used during the Battle of the Aegates Islands (241 BC) found on the seabed off the coast of Marsala, as well as other ancient remains from the area, such as pottery, marble sculptures and mosaics.Many fine painted tombs and funerary monuments have been excavated showing unique preservation of colours.
The three entrance gates into the town dating from Norman times: Porta Nuova, Porta di Mare and Porta Mazara were rebuilt in the 17th and 18th centuries in a much grander form: Porta Mazara, (English: "Mazara Gate") rebuilt in 1572, located in the south-east; Porta di Mare (English: "Sea Gate") (renamed to Porta Garibaldi), rebuilt in 1685, located in the south-west of the town; Porta Nuova (English: "New Gate") was rebuilt in 1790, and is located in the north-west of the town. The city council decided to demolish the city walls in 1887 to make way for the rapidly-expanding town. Along with this demolition was demolished the north-east gate called Porta Trapani, constructed in the early 17th century, nicknamed "Porticella" due to its small size in comparison to the other three gates of the town; it used to be located at the intersection of Via Pellegrino and Via Sardegna.
The economy of Marsala still depends on the production of wine, although tourism is a growing industry and it too is becoming an important source of income for the city. With its 14-kilometre (8.7 mi) coastline of sandy beaches and clear sea, access to the nearby Aegadian Islands and the natural environment of the Saline Della Laguna and Stagnone Lagoon, Marsala is an important Sicilian tourist destination.[ citation needed ]
Large-scale wine production started in 1773, encouraged by English trader John Woodhouse. Important winemaking establishments include Ingham-Whitaker, le Cantine Florio, Martinez, Pellegrino, Rallo, Mineo, Bianchi, Baglio Hopps, Donnafugata, Alagna, Caruso e Minini. Marsala cellars are famous not just for the production of dessert wine, but also for red and white wines. They produce modern cellar wine, such as Alcesti, De Bartoli, Fina, Vinci, Birgi, Mothia, Paolini e Baglio Oro. In 2012, Marsala was named the European Capital of Wine.
Marsala is twinned with:
The First Punic War was the first of three wars fought between Carthage and Rome, the two main powers of the western Mediterranean in the early 3rd century BC. For 23 years, in the longest continuous conflict and greatest naval war of antiquity, the two powers struggled for supremacy, primarily on the Mediterranean island of Sicily and its surrounding waters, and also in North Africa. After immense material and human losses on both sides the Carthaginians were defeated.
Trapani is a city and comune on the west coast of Sicily in Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Trapani. Founded by Elymians, the city is still an important fishing port and the main gateway to the nearby Egadi Islands.
Mazara del Vallo is a town and comune in the province of Trapani, southwestern Sicily, Italy. It lies mainly on the left bank at the mouth of the Mazaro river.
Drepana was an Elymian, Carthaginian, and Roman port in antiquity on the western coast of Sicily. It was the site of a crushing Roman defeat by the Carthaginians in 249 BC. It eventually developed into the modern Italian city of Trapani.
The naval Battle of Drepana took place in 249 BC during the First Punic War near Drepana in western Sicily, between a Carthaginian fleet under Adherbal and a Roman fleet commanded by Publius Claudius Pulcher.
Licata, formerly also Alicata, is a city and comune located on the south coast of Sicily, at the mouth of the Salso River, about midway between Agrigento and Gela. It is a major seaport developed at the turn of the twentieth century, shipping sulphur, the refining of which has made Licata the largest European exporting centre, and asphalt, and at times shipping cheese.
Trapani is a province in the autonomous island region of Sicily, southern Italy. Following the suppression of the Sicilian provinces, it was replaced in 2015 by the Free municipal consortium of Trapani. Its capital is the city of Trapani. It has an area of 2,469.62 square kilometres (953.53 sq mi) and a total population of 433,826 (2017). There are 24 comunes in the province.
Motya was an ancient and powerful city on San Pantaleo Island off the west coast of Sicily, in the Stagnone Lagoon between Drepanum and Lilybaeum. It is within the present-day commune of Marsala, Italy.
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The Battle of Lilybaeum was the first clash between the navies of Carthage and Rome in 218 BC during the Second Punic War. The Carthaginians had sent 35 quinqueremes to raid Sicily, starting with Lilybaeum. The Romans, warned by Hiero of Syracuse of the coming raid, had time to intercept the Carthaginian contingent with a fleet of 20 quinqueremes and managed to capture several Carthaginian ships.
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The Treaty of Lutatius was the agreement of 241 BC, amended in 237 BC, between Carthage and Rome which ended the First Punic War after 23 years of conflict. Most of the fighting during the war took place on, or in the waters around, the island of Sicily and in 241 BC a Carthaginian fleet was defeated by a Roman fleet commanded by Gaius Lutatius Catulus while attempting to lift the blockade of its last, beleaguered, strongholds there. Accepting defeat, the Carthaginian Senate ordered their army commander on Sicily, Hamilcar Barca, to negotiate a peace treaty with the Romans, on whatever terms he could negotiate. Hamilcar refused, claiming the surrender was unnecessary, and the negotiation of the peace terms was left to Gisco, the commander of Lilybaeum, as the next most senior Carthaginian on the island. A draft treaty was rapidly agreed, but when this was referred to Rome for ratification it was rejected.
The Marsala Ship is the earliest warship known from archeological evidence. It is a wreck discovered in 1971 in an area called Punta Scario in the harbor of Marsala in western Sicily, Italy, near the Aegadian Islands. The Marsala Ship's "nationality" was painted on the sides with letters by its Punic builders from Carthage.
Cefalù, the classical Cephaloedium (Κεφαλοίδιον), is a city and comune in the Italian Metropolitan City of Palermo, located on the Tyrrhenian coast of Sicily about 70 km (43 mi) east of the provincial capital and 185 km (115 mi) west of Messina. The town, with its population of just under 14,000, is one of the major tourist attractions in the region. Despite its size, every year it attracts millions of tourists from all parts of Sicily and also, from all over Italy and Europe.
The culture of the ancient Phoenicians was one of the first to have had a significant effect on the history of wine. Phoenicia was a civilization centered in current day Lebanon. Between 1550 BC and 300 BC, the Phoenicians developed a maritime trading culture that expanded their influence from the Levant to North Africa, the Greek Isles, Sicily, and the Iberian Peninsula. Through contact and trade, they spread not only their alphabet but also their knowledge of viticulture and winemaking, including the propagation of several ancestral varieties of the Vitis vinifera species of wine grapes.
The Siege of Drepana took place from about 249 to 241 BC during the First Punic War.
The Siege of Lilybaeum lasted for nine years, from 250 to 241 BC, as the Roman army laid siege to the Carthaginian-held Sicilian city of Lilybaeum during the First Punic War. Rome and Carthage had been at war since 264 BC, fighting mostly on the island of Sicily or in the waters around it, and the Romans were slowly pushing the Carthaginians back. By 250 BC, the Carthaginians held only the cities of Lilybaeum and Drepana; these were well-fortified and situated on the west coast, where they could be supplied and reinforced by sea without the Romans being able to use their superior army to interfere.
The naval Battle of Phintias took place in 249 BC during the First Punic War near modern Licata, southern Sicily between the fleets of Carthage under Carthalo and the Roman Republic under Lucius Junius Pullus. The Carthaginian fleet had intercepted the Roman Fleet off Phintias, and had forced it to seek shelter. Carthalo, who heeded the warning of his pilots about impending storms, retired to the east to avoid the coming weather. The Roman fleet did not take any precautions and subsequently was destroyed with the loss of all but two ships. The Carthaginians exploited their victory by raiding the coasts of Roman Italy until 243 BC. The Romans did not mount a major naval effort until 242 BC.
Gisco was a Carthaginian general who served during the closing years of the First Punic War and took a leading part in the events which sparked the Mercenary War. He was a citizen of the city state of Carthage, which was located in what is now Tunisia. His date of birth and age at death are both unknown, as are his activities prior to his coming to prominence towards the end of the First Punic War.
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