MARSALAtakes its name from the Arabic Marsah-el-Allah, the port of Allah, was once the main Saracenic base in Sicily, but since the late eighteenth century it has been better known for the dessert wine that carries its name, something every bar and restaurant will sell you.
The centre of Marsala is extremely attractive, a clean sixteenth-century layout that's free of traffic and littered with high, ageing buildings and arcaded courtyards. But, pleasant as the town is, save your energy for two excellent museums. The most central, behind the cathedral at Via Garraffa 57, is the Museo degli Arazzi (Tues– Sat 9.30am–1pm & 4.30–6pm, Sun 9.30am–1pm; 2.50), whose sole display is a series of eight enormous hand-stitched wool and silk tapestries depicting the capture of Jerusalem – sixteenth-century and beautifully rich, in burnished red, gold and green. Afterwards, walk out to the cape (follow the main Via XI Maggio to Piazza della Vittoria and bear left towards the water); one of the stone-vaulted warehouses that line the promenade holds the equally impressive Museo Archeologico e della Nave Punica (daily 9am–6pm; 3). Its major exhibit is a reconstructed Punic war ship once rowed by 68 oarsmen, probably sunk during the First Punic War, and rediscovered in 1971. Other bits and pieces on display are from the excavated site (mostly Roman) of Lilybaeum. If you want a meal in Marsala, head for Il Gallo e l'Innamorata, Via S Bilardello 18 (Tel:329.291.8503) a small osteria with great food, including bruschetta with bottarga and busiati con ragu di tonno.