Introduction

Famous for its historic spas and flamboyant carnival celebrations, Sciacca was founded in the 5th century BC as a thermal resort for nearby Selinunte. It later flourished under the Saracens, who arrived in the 9th century and named it Xacca (meaning 'water' in Arabic), and the Normans.

Until 2015, when financial woes forced the spa to shut down indefinitely, Sciacca's healing waters continued to be the big drawcard, attracting coachloads of Italian tourists who came to treat their ailments in the sulphurous vapours and mineral-rich mud.

Spas and thermal cures apart, Sciacca remains a laid-back town with an attractive medieval core and some excellent seafood restaurants. The city retains its original layout, with neighbourhoods built on strips of rock descending towards the sea. The historic centre revolves around its main thoroughfare, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, and the vast square Piazza Scandaliato, where views (and staircases) extend to the fishing harbour below.