The Thinking Traveller's the Thoughtful Guide to Mazara del Vallo, Sicily.

🔹Mazara del Vallo was founded in the 9th century BC by the Phoenicians, who used it as a strategic emporium for their trans-Mediterranean trading interests. ⁠

⁠🔹It was under the Arabs, who invaded in 827, however, that Mazara's potential was fully realized. Under their rule the town assumed an importance on the island second only to Palermo. ⁠

⁠🔹Still today Meghrebian influences course through the town's streets, not least in the historic Kasbah quarter, where around 3,000 (mainly) Tunisians live, work and study.⁠

🔹After the Arabs? The Normans, of course! They arrived in 1027, led by King Roger I. A cathedral was built on the site of a mosque and many other churches soon followed, including a couple that can still be seen today: the Chiesa di San Nicol ò Regale, built in 1124, and the 11th century Chiesa della Madonna delle Giummare. ⁠

⁠🔹In 1998, Captain Francesco Adragna and his crew set out on their nightly trip and got the surprise of their lives: rising out of the sea, head first, was a remarkable, 7-ft tall bronze statue of a dancing satyr! The Dancing Satyr is a superb work of art, full of vigour, delight and motion. Little is known of the statue's exact provenance or period of manufacture, though experts believe that it dates back to some time between the 4th and 1st centuries BC.⁠

⁠🔹Apart from the Dancing Satyr, Mazara del Vallo offers a really good day out. Its old town centre, flanking the banks of the Mazaro river, has much to see, including a variety of churches, the beautiful Piazza delle Repubblica with its cathedral and Spanish baroque seminary, a fascinating, bustling fishing harbour and, thanks to the presence of so many Tunisians, some excellent fish couscous!⁠