settlement founded by the Phoenicians at the mouth of the River
Mazaro became an irnportant harbour in Antiquity on account of its
protected position and its proximity to Africa. The trading post
that so flourished under the Ancient Greeks, however, reached its
apotheosis under Arab and then Norman dominion. The cosmopolitan
range of different ancestries that have been attracted to this town
through the ages, not least from nearby North Africa, are still
much in evidence today constituting a considerable proportion of
the local population. As in times past, Mazara continues to be regarded
as one of the most important deep-sea fishing-towns in Italy, accounting
for 20% of the National catch.
feast of mussels?
At the Trattoria della Cozza, on the seafront, where they cook them
in all sorts of different ways. Tel. 0923-942323
and shipping canal – The heart of the town is the harbour;
this throbs with life early in the morning when the fishing fleet
returns with its catch. The quays jostle with activity as refrigerated
trucks manoeuvre into place: the harbour echoes with the sounds
of fishermen, merchants, packers and drivers who see to the off-loading,
processing, packaging and dispatching of the fish. Meanwhile, the
fishermen go about preparing their boats, moored to the jetty, sorting
and folding the nets, stacking up the lobster-pots and stowing the
cages in readiness for the next expedition. Overlooking the scene
with benign approval, set back from the actual harbour front, is
the Norman Chiesa di San Nicolò Regale.
Nicolò Regale – This evocative building erected under
William I, has a square plan with the three apses contained by a
bulbous dome characteristic of Arabo-Norman architecture (see PALERMO:
San Giovanni degli Eremiti or San Cataldo). The skyline is edged
with rounded battlements. Below the floor inside, fragments of mosaic
have been discovered: these, from paleo-Christian times, probably
form part of a Roman floor.
the streets behind sits Piazza Plebiscito, graced with the elegant
façade of Sant’Ignazio (18C) and the former Jesuit
College (17C) with its lovely doorway. This currently accommodates
the municipal library and a small local museum containing artefacts
from various periods, predominantly from Neolithic to the late Byzantine
eras. The separate Sala Consagra is devoted to a contemporary artist
born in Mazara; it contains etchings, acquatints, relief panels
together with small-scale modelli of his best-known sculptures.
museum also maintains a large reserve collection of paintings for
which permanent exhibition space has yet to be found.
– The main building dates from the 11C although this was subjected
to considerable remodelling in the 17C. The façade, completed
in 1906, is ornamented with a decorative doorway and a 16C shallow
relief panel depicting Roger I on horseback, felling a Moor.
– The somewhat overall theatrical effect is achieved by interspersing
a few genuine elements of gilded stucco decoration among frescoed
trompe-l oeil stucco volutes, curlicues and little cherubs. The
most complex group resides in the centre apse where a large drape
richly embroidered with gold “stitching” is suspended
and drawn aside by angels, to reveal the Transfiguration. The whole
composition by Antonello Gagini sits upon a majestic Renaissance
altar. In the first chapel on the right is an ancient ciborium which
may have been used, according to the
inscription, at the christening of Frederick I’s son. The
Chapel of the Crucifix, also right of centre, takes its name from
the fine painted wooden crucifix (13C) contained in the adjoining
into the floor is a glass plate, this provides a view of the ancient
foundations. Elsewhere, the church contains a number of Roman sarcophagi.
della Repubblica – This pleasing piazza laid out in the Baroque
period acts as the focal point to the old town. The statue (1771)
gracing the centre is by Ignazio Marabitti and represents San Vito,
the patron saint of Mazara. On all sides rise a harmonious collection
of palazzi from the 18C: at the far end sits the cathedral overshadowed
by an elegant Baroque campanile; along the left side stands the
Bishop’s Palace while to the right, extends the Seminario
dei Chierici complete with its lovely neo-Classical portico and
round-headed arched loggia. The former seminary now houses a small
Museo Diocesano (entrance at 3 Via dell’Orologio).
Mazzini – South of Piazza della Repubblica. The seafront is
flanked by gardens shaded by magnolias and palm trees, making it
a perfect place for the habitual Italian “constitution”.
At its eastern end, Piazza Makara contains all that remains of the
Norman Castle (11C), namely a pointed gateway.
Campobello Di Mazara
Castellammare Del Golfo
Mazara Del Vallo
San Vito Lo Capo
Saline Dello Stagnone
Isola Di Formica
Cave Di Cusa
Scivoletto e Michelin Italia. Le foto sono di proprietà
dei rispettivi autori. Ogni riproduzione non autorizzata verrà
perseguita a norma di legge.
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Guide of Sicily
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