To start off our second day in Marsala, we hopped into the car, and drove along the lagoon, the Stagnone, until we reached the spot where one catches the ferry to the island of San Pantaleo, to explore the remains of the ancient city of Mozia. Susan and I were the only two passengers on board the ferry, for the short, but lovely ride over to the island. The entire island is now an archaeological park/museum. There is a ticket office near the dock where the ferries are found, and for a small admission price (€5.00), you are able to explore at your leisure. While there were a few other people buying tickets, once you began to wander around, it felt as if you had the place to yourself. The island, while not necessarily large, is spread out enough so that you never have to deal with crowds. The island is now owned by the Foundation Whitaker, an organization which is continuing the work of Joseph Whitaker, who was responsible for much of the excavation on the island. The small Whitaker Museum, not far from the ticket booth, is worth a visit, if for no other reason than to see the famous statue “Il Giovane di Mozia,” discovered in 1979.At the ticket booth, you are given a map with explanations of the different sites on the island (available in Italian and English). Then, it is up to you as to where you begin, and what you choose to see. Dating back to the 8th century BC, Mozia was one of the three main Phoenician cities on the island of Sicily. That is easy to understand, once you begin to explore, as there are ruins everywhere. The first vineyards were planted on the island in 1806, and wine continues to be made there, to this day.At the time of our visit, there was an exhibition of modern art, using old plastic bottle caps, on the island. The Kothon was the sacred pool of a temple devoted to the God Ba’al Adder.We spent a good three hours exploring the island, and then we headed for the ferry, and back to Marsala. The previous day, while driving along the salt marshes, and spotting the flamingos, I jokingly said to Susan that I wouldn’t be satisfied until I saw a hippo! I was being silly, because Sicily is not known for that particular species of animal. So, I was a bit surprised when, as we were making our way back into the city of Marsala, Susan let out a cry, and then stopped the car. Once back in the city proper, we parked the car, and continued to explore on foot. The Chiesa del Purgatorio is now named the Auditorium Santa Cecilia di Marsala, and while it may look closed to visitors, if you go through the small doorway on the side of the building, a custodian will be only too happy to let you look around. We dined at a wonderful restaurant called San Lorenzo Osteria.They serve elegant, creative food at very reasonable prices. Our meal consisted of various plates of crudo (raw fish), followed by a fish soup, and then to top it off — a deconstructed cannolo.
Next up: still more from Marsala, including a visit to the Cantine Florio, and the famous archaeological museum, Museo Archeologico Baglio Anselmi!
Note: this blog is written in English and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any other translations which may appear.