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Mazara del Vallo, meeting between cultures

Piazza Duomo

Hello! If you have already read some of our articles, you probably know that last July we were on holiday in Selinunte. Well, while we were there, we took the opportunity to make a quick trip to Mazara del Vallo, as the distance is about 30 km. But it was not a random choice. We wanted to go to the Museum of the Dancing Satyr.

The Museum of the Dancing Satyr in Mazara del Vallo

Not knowing how to get around, we decided to leave our car in the guarded parking lot of the railway station. From there, we walked towards our destination, among many people walking around. They were walking, we were walking very fast, because the Museum was about to close. Luckily we arrived on time. We were out of breath but on time. A nice lady greeted us and asked if we had already made the ticket. No, we didn’t know we had to do it in advance, but it wasn’t a problem. The cashier gave us an email address so that we could book our visit, and in five minutes, we solved it.

Finds from the water to Mazara del Vallo

Amphorae
Amphorae

The Museum, which is inside the church of Saint Egidio, exhibits finds coming from the waters of the Sicilian Channel (amphorae, cauldrons, two iron cannons, and more) and houses the statue of the Dancing Satyr since 2005, that is, since they finished the restoration works. You probably don’t know that the Satyr was found in two different moments. The left leg was the first to be found in 1997; the following year, the body without arms and the other leg came to light. It was the fishing boat of Capitan Ciccio, commanded by the captain Francesco Adragna, that found the remains of the bronze statue and other artifacts that are exhibited in the Museum. The most accredited hypothesis is that the Satyr was traveling on a ship that sank when the antiques trade was flourishing.

The Dancing Satyr

We assure you that, finding yourself in front of such a magnificent example of art, you will be amazed, first of all, by its size. It is about 2.5 meters high, but what perhaps fascinates you even more are the floating hair, colored glass eyes, and a slightly open mouth.

The Dancing Satyr
The Dancing Satyr

The Satyr, whose origins seem to date back to the fourth century BC, is a mythological being that is part of the orgiastic procession of the Greek god Dionysus and is represented here in the moment of the ecstasy of the orgiastic dance, while rotating on his right leg holding the thyrsus cane in his right hand and in the left hand the chalice for wine, that is the symbols of the Dionysian cult. We believe we remained admiring it and taking pictures for about twenty minutes. We wanted to stay for a while, but visitors kept coming, and we had to avoid creating crowds. So we went towards the exit, and we chatted a bit with the janitor, who we later discovered was the father of a fellow student of Francesca. It’s a small world 🙂  We asked him how to reach the Casbah.

The Casbah of Mazara del Vallo

The Casbah of Mazara del Vallo, in the historic center, is a multi-ethnic district with an Arab urban layout. It is a labyrinth made up of narrow and winding streets, which lead to the inner courtyards of the houses. Getting to the Casbah and understanding which direction to go was not easy at all … It is no coincidence that it is called a labyrinth!

Help! 😀

In the end we decided to ask for help and went into a shop where they gave us a map of the area and explained how to get to the most colorful house in the Casbah, the same one we had seen on the Internet. Although we had the map, we were unable to orient ourselves 😀 Fortunately, a group of young people, recognizing the bewilderment in our expressions, came to our rescue and, without even asking us what we were looking for, directed us towards our destination. Thank god! 🙂

The Casbah
The Casbah

We don’t know what ethnicity those guys were. Perhaps Tunisians, since they constitute the majority ethnic group. Oh yes, because, as we have already mentioned, the Casbah is the meeting place of different ethnic populations. In addition to Tunisians, gypsies, Serbs, Kosovars, and Maghrebians also live there.

One of the most beautiful baroque churches in the city overlooks Piazza San Francesco and, next to it, is the small Muslim prayer hall. We can, therefore, conclude that the Casbah of Mazara del Vallo is the place where West and East, Christianity and Islam coexist peacefully.

It was getting dark, and we were getting hungry, so we left the Casbah for a place to eat. After dinner, we still had a little place for dessert, and we headed to Gelateria Diadema, where we had a lemon granita and an excellent lactose-free pistachio ice cream. Behind us, the Norman Arch, that is very impressive with the evening lights.

The Norman Arch
The Norman Arch

Now we want to know about you. Have you ever been to Mazara del Vallo? Did you get lost in the Casbah?

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