Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 25, 2022

Marsala, more than Marsala

Marsala takes its name from Marsa Allah, meaning Port of the Gods, given to it by the Arabs. The city was founded by Phonecians. After the first Punic War in 241 BC it surrendered to the Romans who made it one of the main ports in the Mediterranean.

The city is built on the ruins of the ancient Carthaginian city of Lilybaeum. It is famous for the docking of Giuseppe Garibaldi on May 11, 1860 and for its Marsala wine.

Garibaldi landed with his troops to begin the unification of Italy. Hundreds of locals joined his army.

In 1773 an Englishman named John Woodhouse came to town and decided he liked the local wine. He thought it might be popular back home. He fortified the wine with alcohol to help it survive the sea journey and Marsala was born. He returned permanently in 1796 and began mass production.

Marsala was our next stop after Trapani on our April visit to Sicily. The historical centre is pretty, with lots of interesting buildings, cafes, shops and restaurants.

On the way into town we came across Salina Genna, a salt producer since the 15th century. Their salt is still produces in a totally natural way. It is possible to walk around the salt pans and take a small boat around the lagoon.

Our hotel,Dimore di Charme, was excellent, right in the centre of town, comfortable and spacious.

The town centre is quite compact and easily explored in a day or two.

Porta Garibaldi is one of the remaining ancient entrances to the city. It was originally named Porta di Mare.


There are others.

Piazza della Republica in the centre is the home of Chiesa Madre, dedicated to Saint Thomas of Canterbury.

There are some stunning building lining the lovely streets.

The town shines at night.

There are lots of places to sample Marsala and other great food and wine of the area.

Marsala is much more than its favourite beverage and well worth a visit.


  1. Oh, good grief, I just drooled on the keyboard when I saw your dessert.

  2. “Scallopini al Marsala” one of my favorite Italian dishes…

    • I love that too. I cook it regularly.

  3. What fabulous architecture & to wonder how it all could have been built. Ask anyone to build the same now it would be beyond their sbility. Love all the lovely streets at night.

    • I agree. It would be prohibitively expensive to build it today.

  4. Thanks for the interesting background on marsala! We are planning a trip to Italy next year and will go through a lot of your blog to help us plan it.

    • There is so much to see and do in Italy. Even after almost 20 years of spending 6 months each year there I have only scratched the surface.

  5. Such an interesting and picturesque place – and God bless John Woodhouse!

Leave a Reply


%d bloggers like this: