Discovering Mazara del Vallo
On your tour of Sicily, would you like to immerse yourself fully in its history, touching the people who have stayed on the island over the centuries? Mazara del Vallo is the right place for you. A town in the province of Trapani which, in addition to historical and cultural beauties, also allows you to relax on one of its beautiful beaches.
The history of the town
The history of today’s Trapani municipality starts from the Upper Palaeolithic, with the first settlements followed by others and more important ones in the Bronze Age. In the 11th Mazara del Vallo became a very popular place for the Phoenicians, who considered it ideal for stopping off during their travels in Spain. These transitional stops then turned into permanent settlements, even if it is with the period of Greek domination that Mazara flourishes becoming an emporium of Selinunte.
Subsequently Mazara was dominated by the Syracusans, the Carthaginians and the Romans, suffering the influence above all of the latter civilization. The invasions of Sicily by the Goths and the Barbarians did not spare this town, which experienced an economic awakening and not with the arrival of the Muslims of Africa (primarily the Berbers).
Mazara then had another period of splendor around 1027, with the arrival of the Normans who – among other things – built the Cathedral. After a critical phase under Frederick II of Swabia, there was a resumption with the period of Angevin domination and the choice by Frederick III of Aragon to establish his home in Mazara. The city continues to experience fluctuating periods, experiencing a phase of domination by different lordships and then participating in many independence movements without improving its condition.
The economic development of the city began again in the early 1900s, having an inevitable pause during the two wars and resuming at full capacity at the end of the Second World War.
Monuments and places to visit
During a stay in Mazara del Vallo, an obligatory stop is the dancing Satyr. It is the most famous attraction of the place, known not by chance also as “the city of the satyr”. What is called the Dancing Satyr is a bronze statue dating back to the Hellenic period, kept in the homonymous museum inside the Church of Sant’Egidio. The origin of the statue is placed between the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, while the museum also preserves the finds of other dominations that have characterized the city.
Equally important is the Cathedral of the Holy Savior, which is the main place of worship in Mazara del Vallo. As already mentioned, it was built in the Norman period, and was then completely rebuilt in the Baroque style in the 17th century.
What to do during your stay
Wandering around Mazara del Vallo, it is easy to understand how it has had dominations of various kinds that have left a mark on the city. A clear example is the Kasbah, a sort of fortified citadel with a clear North African matrix that deludes visitors that they are on the other side of the Mediterranean.
Going to Piazza Mokarta you can admire the remains of another era, represented by the Norman arch. The aforementioned Cathedral is instead located in Piazza della Repubblica, the most important in the city. Another curious building to see is the Garibaldi Theater, made entirely of wood recovered from old fishing boats.
The main beaches of Mazara del Vallo
Mazara del Vallo boasts many beautiful beaches, where tourists can relax and have fun with friends. The most famous is the Tonnarella beach, a white sand coast where free areas alternate with other equipped ones. With its many services and its shallow waters, it is ideal for families.
If, on the other hand, the preferences are more for more secluded areas, two ideal places are the Capo Feto Beach and La Quarara. The first is sandy, while the second is rocky in nature. Finally, Cala dei Turchi is very interesting for snorkelling, diving and underwater fishing enthusiasts.
Typical cuisine of the area
ne of the most characteristic dishes of Mazara del Vallo are the red prawns, coming from the Trapani municipality and which can be presented in many ways. For the rest, the Mazara culinary tradition presents both fish dishes (couscous and pasta with sardines) and meat dishes (falsomagro and rolls).
These and other typical dishes, both of the area and more generally of Sicilian cuisine, can be tasted in many excellent restaurants. Among the places worth trying for the value for money are the Pollo D’Oro, the Trattoria Da Giacomo and the Trattoria delle Cozze.
How to come
To reach Mazara del Vallo from Palermo, just enter the A29 motorway and follow it to its end. If you arrive at the airport of the Sicilian capital, it is 100 km to get to Mazara, which is 45 km from that of Trapani. Compared to other locations, it cannot be reached very easily by public transport as there is no direct line connecting the Trapani municipality to other locations on the island.