Western Sicily

Located on the tiny island of San Pantaleo, ancient Mozia (also known as Motya or Mothia) was one of the Mediterranean's most important Phoenician settlements. Established in the 8th century BC and coveted for its strategic position, Mozia is today the world's best-preserved Phoenician site.

The entire island was bought by the ornithologist and amateur archaeologist Joseph Whitaker (1850–1936) in the early 20th century and bequeathed to the Joseph Whitaker Foundation by his daughter Delia on her death in 1971. Joseph, who was a member of an English family that gained great wealth from the Marsala trade, built a villa here and spent decades excavating the island and assembling a unique collection of Phoenician artefacts, many of which are now on display in the Museo Whitaker that bears his name.

The fields around the museum are strewn with ruins from the ancient Phoenician settlement. Visitors can wander around the island to explore these, following a network of trails punctuated with helpful maps and information displays. Excavations include the ancient port and dry dock, where you can see the start of a Phoenician road – now approximately 1m underwater – that once linked San Pantaleo with the mainland. There's also a bar-cafe serving drinks and snacks.

To get to the island, hop aboard a Mozia Line ferry boat from the Imbarcadero Salina Infersa next to the Mamma Caura cafe-bar.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Western Sicily attractions

1. Museo Whitaker

0.11 MILES

This museum on San Pantaleo island, 10km north of Marsala, houses a unique collection of Phoenician artefacts assembled over decades by amateur…

2. Mulino della Saline Infersa

0.86 MILES

The southernmost of the region's two salt museums is housed in a beautifully restored 16th-century windmill opposite the Mozia boat dock, 10km north of…

3. Porta Nuova

4.99 MILES

This old town gate marks the western edge of Marsala's historic centre.

4. Complesso Monumentale San Pietro

5.01 MILES

Housed in a beautifully restored 15th-century convent, this arts centre is home to an intriguing complex of small museums. Most noteworthy is the upstairs…

5. Palazzo VII Aprile

5.08 MILES

This lovely arcaded palazzo, formerly known as the Palazzo Senatorio (Senatorial Palace), is now Marsala's town hall.

6. Piazza della Repubblica

5.08 MILES

Marsala's most elegant piazza is dominated by the imposing Chiesa Madre. Just across the way, on the eastern side of the square, is the arcaded Palazzo…

7. Museo degli Arazzi Fiammingi

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8. Chiesa del Purgatorio

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This beautiful 18th-century church (1771), with showy, heavily sculpted facade, is a fine example of Sicilian baroque architecture – as is the ornate…