Marinella, on Sicily’s south coast, is the perfect place to spend a few days to enjoy the swimming and to explore the south-west of the island. Autumn is the best season in which to come, when the crowds have gone, and the sea is still warm. Marinella is a small village located directly below the archaeological park of Selinunte, the site of ancient Selinus, a Greek city which flourished from around 650 to 409 BC. Like several other Greek cities in Sicily, it was cut off in its prime during the wars with Carthage. The park has an unspoilt setting on raised land facing the sea, where out of season it is possible to wander around the remains of ancient temples, fortifications, city gates and paved streets strewn with pieces of columns, roof tiles and blocks of stone, with few people in sight.
Marinella is primarily a holiday resort for the residents of Castelvetrano, a town some fifteen kilometres inland, famous for its olives and its brown bread known as pane nero. The village consists of a strip of low buildings, mostly hotels and holiday properties, stretching down the coast to a small port, filled with fishing boats and holiday craft, and surrounded by shops and cafés. A long sandy beach ends at a rocky promontory on top of which can be seen the remains of a Greek temple.
On the beach, visitors are well looked after at the Bar Zabarra. As well as beach umbrellas, sun loungers and showers, the bar provides a lunchtime buffet of fish, Sicilian vegetable dishes such as caponata, fruit and the local pane nero. Enjoying an evening aperitivo at the bar, while watching the sunset, is an experience not to be missed.
There are several interesting places to visit on day trips from Marinella. About an hour away on the west coast is the city of Marsala where Garibaldi landed in 1860. Nearby is the small island of Motya, where the remains of an ancient Phoenician settlement can be seen. Sicily’s largest fishing port, Mazara del Vallo lies to the south of Marsala. At Campobello, on the road to Mazara, can be found the ancient quarries that supplied the stone for the temples at Selinunte. Here huge columns have been partially cut out of the rock and left abandoned. It is a scene frozen in time from when the temple building came to an end with the arrival of the Carthaginians in 409 BC.