Marzamemi, a fishermen’s village
Marzamemi is a beautiful ancient tuna fishing village in Sicily, not far from Siracusa.
It was built during the Arab domination of Sicily. The name itself “Marzamemi” has an Arab root. “Marsa” in Arab means “harbour”.
Also, the tuna fishery dates back to Arab domination. On the other side, the fishermen’s houses were built in the 17° century. This is the time when the whole area was sold to the prince of Villadorata, who built new houses and structures to empower the fishing activity.
Fishing tunas and other large fishes was a profitable enterprise until the half of the last century. Later overfishing has reduced the natural reserves and today the sea is almost empty. For a long time, the harbour has also been an important base for the trade of the thick, alcoholic red wine produced in the South of Sicily. But the quantities vanished with the years passing by and the final cut came when the railway was closed. Now the station building stands oddly among Mediterranean plants in the middle of nowhere and the tuna factory is closed for decades. The buildings have been converted to host meetings, ceremonies, weddings.
But in spite of its sad fate, the village has an enormous appeal. The enchantment of Marzanemi is still alive and no visitor can escape. Everybody is hit by the beauty of these old stones that increases while the sun goes on along its path and approaches the horizon.
The heart of Marzamemi is Piazza Regina Margherita. A large square flanked by the Palace of the Prince, the Loggia degli Scieri, the tuna factory, two facing churches and the fishermen’s houses. In a bunch of square meters is concentrated the whole charm of this village. Here you can really feel the sense of history radiating out from every old stone.
Charms and crowds
When you enter the square and use a bit of your fantasy you can imagine you’re stepping back in time. This is the place where at the end of every working day the fishermen gathered to meet, chat, share a glass of house-made wine and look at the horizon to forecast weather. Imagine the silence of those days, fractured only by whispering voices and the sound of waves. The men tired after hard work, the women waiting for them at home. Today the reality is different, with crowds of people visiting the site, bars and restaurants.
But when the sun approaches the horizon, the shadows get longer and the light warmer, a new sense of wonder pervades this small village before the final calm of the night.
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