SALT SICILY

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Marsala

Marsala

Marsala, situated on the western tip of Sicily, merges a profound historical heritage with a lively food and wine culture. This city is not only famous for its namesake Marsala wine but also for its significant role in the unification of Italy. Marsala is notably remembered as the landing place of Giuseppe Garibaldi and his Thousand in 1860, a pivotal moment in Italian history.
This historical event marks Marsala as a key location in the journey towards Italy’s unification.
This blend of rich history and its culinary and viticulture traditions provide a unique and enriching experience for visitors.

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History

Marsala has ancient origins dating back to the Phoenician period. It was later conquered by the Romans and became a significant commercial center. The city’s history is marked by the event of 1860 when Giuseppe Garibaldi landed with the Thousand, beginning the unification of Italy. Giuseppe Garibaldi’s choice to land in Marsala, was influenced by a combination of strategic, political, and supportive factors.

You can explore historical sites such as the Baglio Anselmi Archaeological Museum, which houses a Punic ship and the famous mosaic of the “Battle between Romans and Carthaginians.

Architecture & Art

The historic center of Marsala is a charming mix of Norman, Baroque, and Neoclassical architecture. The Mother Church, dedicated to Saint Thomas of Canterbury, and the Palazzo VII Aprile are examples of the city’s architectural elegance.
Art is also present in the streets, with contemporary murals that tell the story and culture of the local area.

Marsala celebrates its history and culture through events like the Festa di San Pietro, with its traditional maritime procession, and the grape harvest, celebrating the grape picking season. 
These events offer an authentic glimpse into the life of Marsala.

Marsala Wine

The fascinating story of Marsala wine intertwines the tale of its English origin with its evolution into a globally recognized tradition. John Woodhouse, an English merchant, inadvertently discovered the local wine during a storm-enforced stop in Marsala. Enamored with its taste, he decided to stay and begin producing and marketing Marsala wine. His efforts paid off significantly, especially after Admiral Horatio Nelson chose it to celebrate his victory at Trafalgar, earning Marsala the title of “Victory wine” and favor within the English royal court.

Following Woodhouse’s footsteps, other notable producers like Florio and Ingham played vital roles in popularizing Marsala wine worldwide. Originating in the 18th century, this fortified wine has now captured international markets. 

Today, local wineries, such as Florio and Donnafugata, not only continue this rich tradition but also offer tours and tastings, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the unique production process and enjoy the various varieties of Marsala wine, each telling its own story of this unique Sicilian legacy.

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Salt Pans of Marsala

The salt pans of Marsala, a striking and historic feature of the Sicilian landscape, present a breathtaking blend of natural beauty and centuries-old tradition. These salt flats, dating back to the Phoenician times, are an essential part of Marsala’s cultural and economic heritage. The process of salt harvesting, a delicate and skilled labor, has remained relatively unchanged over the centuries, showcasing the region’s commitment to preserving traditional methods.

Situated along the picturesque coastal area, the Marsala salt pans are known for their unique windmills, which were historically used to pump water and grind the harvested salt. These iconic structures add a quaint, rustic charm to the landscape, making them a popular subject for photographers and a symbol of the area’s salt-producing history.

The salt pans not only serve an economic purpose but also play a crucial role in the local ecology. They are a haven for numerous bird species, including the elegant flamingos, which are often seen wading in the shallow waters. This rich biodiversity turns the salt pans into a significant ecological site, attracting nature enthusiasts and bird watchers from around the world.

Visiting the Marsala salt pans offers a unique opportunity to witness a blend of natural beauty, wildlife, and traditional industry. The area provides an insightful glimpse into the age-old salt extraction methods, the ecological significance of the salt flats, and the enduring legacy of this ancient trade in Marsala.

Florio Winery

The Florio Winery, located in Marsala, Sicily, stands as a pivotal chapter in the history of Marsala wine. Established in 1832 by Vincenzo Florio, these cellars have played an essential role in transforming Marsala into a hub of winemaking excellence. 

The Florio family, originally starting as humble spice merchants who immigrated from Calabria, this Sicilian commercial house rose remarkably within a few generations to build an empire. This empire was not just pivotal for Sicily’s economic prosperity but also wielded significant influence over the monarchical policies of the Bourbon dynasty initially and the Savoys later.

Their ascendancy from modest beginnings to the creation of a powerful business empire exemplifies their strategic prowess and entrepreneurial spirit, marking a significant impact on the economic and political realms of the region.

Florio ventured into the wine industry with the ambition of producing high-quality Marsala wine, competing with and surpassing the English merchants who initially introduced the wine to the region.

The winery is renowned for its imposing architecture and historical significance. With its vast halls and majestic wooden barrels, the Florio Winery narrates a story that intertwines tradition, innovation, and passion.
The company has experienced various phases, from exponential growth in the 19th century to decline and revival in the 20th century, yet remains a symbol of Marsala’s heritage and identity.

Today, the Florio Winery welcomes visitors eager to explore the history and production process of Marsala wine. Guided tours offer an immersive experience, from viewing the ancient barrels to tasting various types of Marsala, each with its unique flavor and aroma profiles.

A visit to the Florio Winery is not just a journey into the world of wine but also a dive into Sicilian history and culture.

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Sciarbat

Ice cream is considered a legacy of the Arab domination. The Saracens, in fact, used to drink a frozen beverage during the hot summer days, made with snow found on the slopes of the high peaks near Palermo, and prepared with cane sugar, milk or water, fruit essence, vanilla, and cinnamon.

They called it ‘Sciarbat,’ which means to sip, created with the rare snows of our Palermitan mountains. From ‘Sciarbat’ came sorbet, which became a part of the summer menus of the Palermitan aristocracy, and the ‘monsù’ enhanced it by adding juice from our citrus fruits, flowers, and aromatic spices to this frozen drink.

The sorbet boom occurred with the advent of ‘strolling ice cream’ around 1700, when Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, a Sicilian chef, using an invention of his grandfather Francesco, a fisherman who in his free time devoted himself to the study of an ice cream making machine, replaced honey with sugar and mixed a bit of salt into the ice, managing to prepare a mixture that lasted longer in the heat.

3 reasons why it's worth it

01

Landmark of Italian Unification, steeped in transformative history.

02

Exceptional Marsala wine tasting experiences.

03

Stunning Salt Pans, breathtaking natural beauty and birdwatching paradise.