Marsala Museums & Segesta
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
There two museums in Marsala that are a must-see.
First stop: Museo degli Arazzi (Tapestry Museum). A 4 euros entry fee gives you access to a series of magnificent tapestries. The museum, a tall and narrow building, is located right behind the Cathedral. There are eight tapestries describing the war between the Romans and the Jews. The origin of the tapestries is unknown, but it seems very likely that they were made by a Flemish Guild, in Belgium. Such incredible work!
Second stop: Regional archaeological Museum Antonino Salinas (Museo archeologico regional Antonino Salinas). The museum has a large collection of Punic and Greek artifacts, many of which were found at the bottom of the sea and/or in archaeological digs under the streets of Marsala. There is a beautiful display on remains of a Punic vessel.
Of special interest is also San Giovanni Battista church, built in 1555, that can only be accessed from the back of the museum (the two rows of flowering shrubs near the church are breathtaking). Inside the church, you are guided to an underground cave where a Cumaean Sybil (prophetess) was residing. According to legend, Ulysses himself would have consulted her during his voyage in this part of world. Impressive and very interesting!
Note to fellow travellers: If you travel in June, visiting museums is really pleasant because there are no crowds. Often, you are alone or with only a few people and you can get personal attention. Italians are very proud of their history and very eager to share it. A great trait of character!
Last stop on our ways back to Palermo: Segesta Archaeological Area. Another interesting Doric temple and a Greek theatre with a very well preserved auditorium. There is a very nice trail around the temple. Take your time to enjoy the site.
One special note about Segesta: The beauty of the surrounding hills is absolutely stunning! We were there after 4:00 pm and the light of day brought out amazing ochre and golden colours, not to mention infinite shades of green. Splendid!
Note to fellow travellers: A 6 euros fee gives you access to the site. A local shuttle also provides a comfortable climb (and back) to the theatre, about 400 meters on the cliffs of mount Barbaro. You can purchase a separate ticket (1.50 euros per person) at the gift shop. That extra cost is a no-brainer since the road is long, very steep and in full sun!
There is some apprehension in returning to the chaos of Palermo after this romantic tour of the Western coast. San Vito Lo Capo, Erice, Marsala, Sagesta… they will all be missed and will leave indelible memories.