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Riserva Naturale delle Saline di Trapani e Paceco: Nubia, interno Museo del Sale – (ph Roberto Salomone) (Archivio fotografico dell’Azienda Provinciale Turismo di Trapani) “Via del Sale” - The salt road
The sea provides the town with a feature, which characterizes the coast as far as Marsala: the salt-pans. Over the centuries the salt-pans and the salt industry have created a unique environment of great cultural, anthropological and economic relevance in a region where the land merges into the sea
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This route is called la Via del Sale (the salt road) and is remarkable for its numerous mills, five of which have recently been renovated, for the heaps of salt covered with terracotta tiles and for the Museum of Salt at Nubia, not far from Paceco. This area is part of two natural reserves, the Saline di Trapani e Paceco and the Stagnone di Marsala.

Greek StatueIn the shallow and warm waters of the Stagnone it's easy to sight a great variety of water birds, such as wild ducks and herons. In spring a multitude of glowing flowers decorate the surfacing land like a series of multicoloured festoons.

Here lies the islet of Mozia. Forty hectares of historic land surrounded by the sea. Together with Isola Longa, Santa Maria and Isola della Schola it forms a small archipelago in the Stagnone, the largest lagoon in Sicily and one of the most notable “humid zones” in Europe.

One of the most important Phoenician and Carthaginian settlements in the Mediterranean, Mozia became a strategic site owing to its vicinity to powerful Carthage. Its foundation dates back to the 8th century BC and its history was revealed thanks to Giuseppe Whitaker, a rich businessman who organized the first excavation campaign in 1875. Since the many objects of Phoenician origin have been brought to light and are now kept at the museum of Villa Whitaker, on the island. They include the grotesque mask of the “Laughing Man” and one of the most remakable archaeological finds of the last few years, the Giovinetto di Mozia, a statue of a young boy dated to the 5th century BC and displayed at the great exhibition about the Phoenicians recently held in Venice.

In the southern part of the island there is the Cothon, a small rectangular artificial basin, probably a former harbour or dry rock.

Next to the Museum there are remains of an ancient building, the Casa dei Mosaici, with mosaic floors depicting real and imaginary animals.

One of the most evocative places is the Tophet, a series of carved stone stelae where sacrifices were offered to Tanit, the godness of Life and Death, Fecundity and the Sea.

The Tophet was linked to the coast through a road that has been submerged by sea but is still visible from above. This road was used until recently by donkey-carts.

The destruction of Mozia by the Syracusan tyrant Dionysus the Elder in 379 BC forced the inhabitants to move as far as Capo Boeo, a promontory in the westernmost part of Sicily, where they founded Lilybaeum, the modern Marsala.

Marsala is rich in Carthaginian, Roman, Norman, Arab and Spanish monuments, which bear witness to the long and interesting history of the town, like for istance the Carthaginian necropolis, the Roman Villa with its wonderful mosaics, the 5th century Christian baptisery and the remains of the city walls built under Roger I.

During a stay in Marsala one cannot help visiting the cathedral, built on a pre-existent Norman castle, which house by Gagini as well as eight invaluable Flemish tapestries of the 16th century; the archaeological Museum of Baglio Anselmi, which contains a remarkable example of marine achaeology, a Carhaginian ship dating back to the 2nd century BC; the plants where the world-famous Marsala wine is made; and finally, the bagli.

These local rural buildings widespread all over the territory of Trapani, especially in Marsala were built in the 1th century according to the will of the englishman Woodhouse just for the processing and storing of wine.

The history of Petrosino, wine-growing and wine-producing centre a few kilometres away from Marsala the origins of which date back to 1632, is also connected with the name of Woodhouse, whose armorial bearings, transferred to the portal of the homonymous “baglio”, have become the symbol of this town.

 

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