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Marsala

Description

Marsala is a town in the province of Trapani, founded by the refugees of Mozia fleeing from invasion and destruction by Dionysius I of Syracuse. Probably already known as Lilibeo it became an important Carthaginian military base, defended by an impressive boundary wall of which traces still remain. After falling under Roman domination (if not before, it was certainly now called Lilybaeum), it was the starting - point of the expedition against Carthage led by Scipio, later known as Africanus. The Romans were followed by the Vandals of Gaiseric and then the Byzantines. When it fell to the Muslirns they called it Marsa-Allah, Port of Allah. The town prospered considerably in the Middle Ages as an important centre of trade and commerce. The Normans took Marsala in 1072, rebuilt the castle and constructed churches and convents.
In the XVIII century some enterprising Englishmen set up the first establishment producing marsala wine.
The Cathedral of San Tommaso from Canterbury, built by the Normans and extensively altered in successive centuries, dominates Piazza della Repubblica. The interior, with a nave and two aisles, is richly decorated with nu- merous works of art: in the left chapel in the presbytery there is a remarkable icon begun by Berrettaro and completed by Antonello and Gian Domenico Gagini. Antonello also did the statue of St Thomas the Apostle, on the plinth of which is the inscription 1 'incredulità del Santo (St Thomas's doubting). The two fine holy water stoups date from 1474 and 1573.
Also in Piazza delle Repubblica, which is the centre of town life, is the XVIII century Palazzo della Loggia, formerly the seat of the local administration.
Among the other religious monuments we have to mention the Church of San Giuseppe (XVIII-XVIII century), the Church and the Convent of San Pietro, seat of the civic Library, the Church of Addolorata, the Church of Carmine (XVI century), the Church of San Francesco (XVIII century) and the Church of Santa Maria della Grotta of Norman origins.
The Archaeological Museum, with prehistoric and punic remains and a valuable punic ship, and the Greek Roman Archaeological Park, with the ruins of Roman dwellings and a small thermal building with splendid mosaics.

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