Mazara del Vallo is a bustling town on Sicily’s south-west coast, offering a top spot for your next Italian holiday. Once a great Phoenician port, the town is now a popular hotspot for tourists to soak in the culture and history of Sicily. The proximity of Mazara del Vallo to Africa means that temperatures in summer often reach highs of 32oC, making the town perfect for a sunny Mediterranean getaway.
Mazara del Vallo is perhaps most famous for its diverse cultural ancestry. The town was founded over a millennium ago but has been occupied by many other cultures over the centuries, from Arabs to Normans. A walk around the town takes tourists past the ruins and remnants of these forgotten civilisations, The city centre still heavily reflects the Arab occupancy of the city, while the Norman Arc is all that remains of an 11th century Norman castle. The Dancing Satyr is one of the most popular tourist attractions, a Greek bronze sculpture dating back two millennia that was uncovered from the ocean floor by a Mazara del Vallo fishing boat. Mazara del Vallo’s proximity to other popular tourist locations makes it a great base from which to explore the rest of Sicily.
Just a 15-minute journey up the west coast from Mazara del Vallo is Marsala, a vibrant Sicilian town built on the ruins of the ancient city of Lilybaeum. Besides a rich history, Marsala is most famous for producing the fortified wine of the same name that is enjoyed around the world. The local wineries often provide guided tours to visitors, where you can learn about the history and production process of Marsala wine, followed by a tasting session!
Marsala was also the famous landing site of Garibaldi and his thousand men in 1860, the event that kickstarted the unification of Italy. Nowadays, the Porta Garibaldi serves as the main reminder of this, the archway through which Garibaldi led his men. Another main sight is the Duomo in Piazza della Repubblica, a cathedral that has been restored many times over the years but dates back to the Norman occupation of the town.
Trapani is a town further up the west coast from Marsala. Trapani is a hidden gem that has mostly evaded the tourist industry, making it a great little town in which to experience a slice of authentic Sicilian life. Transport from Mazara del Vallo is easy, with a train that will take you there in under an hour for only €5. Trapani was founded by the Phoenicians, but the Medieval and Renaissance periods of Trapani’s history are most evident in its modern landscape. The 14th-century Cattedrale di San Lorenzo is a particular highlight of the town, as well as the Sanctuary of Maria Santissima Annunziata, a church that holds ancient statues and sculptures. Villa Margherita is Trapani’s main public park and is the venue for many operas and concerts over the summer.
The fortified medieval town of Erice sits atop a hill just outside of Trapani. Tourists looking to visit the ancient town can either take the cable car from Trapani or brave the adventurous route and follow the fortifications right up to the hillside. Erice is popular as one of the best-preserved remnants of medieval history in Sicily, having retained much of its buildings and structures in the centre of the town. The Castle of Venus, or Castello di Venere, dates back to the 12th century and was built by the Normans on the site of a prehistoric temple. Tours through the Castle run regularly throughout the day, and at the top of the fortifications, you’ll be met with a breath-taking view looking out over the Mediterranean from 800 metres above sea level.
Exploring Mazara del Vallo...
Explore the ruins of Selinunte
Selinunte is an ancient Greek archaeological site on the southern Sicilian coast. Buses from Mazara del Vallo to Selinunte are cheap, connecting at the town of Castelvetrano. After Selinunte was abandoned by the Greeks, further developments did not take place in the area, meaning that the structures found in the site stand exactly where they stood over two thousand years ago. The ancient town is actually quite large, and visitors should expect to take at least 4 hours exploring the site if they hope to visit the farthest ruins. The entrance to the park has a souvenir shop and a small restaurant selling drinks and snacks to help you cool down after spending the day in the sun.
When you’re finished exploring the archaeological park, there are a number of sandy beaches found nearby that are perfect for relaxing by the sea before returning to Mazara del Vallo.
See the Opera at Teatro Garibaldi
Teatro Garibaldi was built in the early 19th century and hosted many plays and operas, featuring a number of famous Italian performers. In 1930, the theatre was closed down due to inactivity, but a recent restoration of the venue has allowed performances to take place again. The auditorium is very small and hosts only 98 people, making for wonderfully intimate performances that can be enjoyed whether you speak Italian or not. The theatre is also open to tourists when there are no performances taking place, so you can admire some of the artwork that depicts Sicilian folklore.
Relax on Lido Caiman beach
Lido Caiman is Mazara del Vallo’s most popular beach, with silky white sands and picturesque views over the Mediterranean. The staff are renowned for their friendliness, and the beach has sunbeds and parasols to hire throughout the summer. The resident beach bar serves food and drinks to beachgoers at an affordable price. Being in Mazara del Vallo, the beach avoids the usual tourist crowds of the Italian summer and is perfect for families and couples.
Sicilian cuisine is built around locally-sourced ingredients, drawing heavily from traditional Italian cuisine but also incorporating elements of Greek, Arab, Spanish and French recipes resulting from its historic occupants. Sicily’s pastries are particular tourist favourites, with desserts on offer such as cannoli, pastry tubes filled with ricotta.
Mazara del Vallo restaurants
Mazara del Vallo is a fishing town, and as a result, the staple of the town’s menus is seafood. The town features a number of world-class restaurants specialising in fresh-caught fish and lobster, but also serving classic Italian treats. A tourist favourite is Mareaviva Ostricheria, fishmongers where they prepare fish and oysters for you to eat on the spot! Of course, it wouldn’t be Sicily without great wine, and Mazara del Vallo’s restaurants and bars stock plenty of local Sicilian wines including the famous Marsala.
If you’re looking for a hassle-free booking experience for your holiday to Mazara del Vallo, look no further. With easyJet holidays, you’re guaranteed to save money on your holiday with great deals on travel and accommodation – book both together and save even more.
If Mazara del Vallo isn’t quite floating your boat, head back and browse more Sicilian destinations.