Excursions in the most beautiful spots of Sicily



From the arabic “MARSA EL ALAMEM” (bay of the turtle doves) due to the presence of a lot of turtle doves, that migrate and stay in a morass in Marzamemi, once a salt pan that provided salt to the tonnara. Marzamemi is in fact an ancient tonnara, now a touristic hamlet. In the center of the town we find the main square, Piazza Regina Margherita, and all around the main streets: “Letizia” street and “Principe Villadorata” street.

In the square there are the old fisherman’s houses and two churches, the ancient one and the new one. They’re both dedicated to San Francesco di Paola, the protector of the town. The new church was built by the will of the pope Pio XI and it’s simple and linear, while the old one, now deconsecrated because ruined, once property of the prince, is now property of the cultural assets, but still abandoned. In the upper central part of the new church there’s a big Romantic rose window that was first on the old church.

Going around Marzamemi you can’t miss the old fishermen’s houses that are located around the square. They were built in 1600 and were restructured when the palace of the prince was built. The most characteristic one is the furnace house, so called because there is a big stonework oven.

The palace of the Villadorata Prince was built in 1752 and is located in the west side of the Regina Margherita square. It is made of sandstone and the main door is made of wood, overcomed by a bow with the family emblem in the center. There is another bow near the palace once used to transport rain from the roof to two tanks, right next to the old church. The view that you can admire from here is really wonderful. The small natural ports of Marzamemi, “Fossa” and “Balata”, are very particular. The “Balata” is like a small square surrounded by the houses and the sea.

San Francesco di Paola Holiday - August 20th

This is surely one of the most beautiful holidays in our territory and one of the most important maritime holidays in Sicily.

The worship of the protector comes from the 600 when the inhabitants of Marzamemi suffered the earthquake of 1693. In this occasion the inhabitants decided to address to the saint so that he could protect the fishermen when they went fishing to support their family.

For this reason San Francesco became the protector of the small hamlet, and when he satisfied their requests the fish was catched in his honor.

During the morning on August 20th they shoot some cannon bangs that indicate the beginning of the holiday. During the morning there will be the holy masses and during the afternoon some maritime competitions: sack race, maypole, regatta.

Around 6:oo p.m the simulacrum of San Francesco exits the church and it does the procession of the entire town. This procession reminds the crossing of San Francesco di Paola from the Strait of Messina, so that he blesses and protects the sea and the fishermen.

This event is spectacular because it doesn’t involve just the town of Marzamemi but the sea too. A wonderful scenery is created, where the fishermen follow with their boats the saint on its bigger boat. On the way back, the statue is placed in the square where there will be shows and street markets, concluding with the fireworks at midnight.


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