Marzamemi has an exotic flair to it. It started as a fishing village and continues the tradition today. But Marzememi, unlike many other towns in Sicily, doesn't have Greek roots; rather it was founded by the Arabs and originally called Marsa' al Hamen (which translates as "harbour of the turtle doves"). The romantic name lends itself nicely to the town, which looks more like a Moroccan or Arab setting than an Italian one. The stone block buildings clustered around wide piazzas punctuated with archways and splashed with turquoise-painted doors and windows are charming.
Marzamemi started as a town for tuna fishing and packing, a trade it continues in an artisanal form today. The old "tonnara" still stands on the shore, used now for special events, while food producers in the modern part of town pack tuna and smoked swordfish in various forms. Marinated anchovies and even salami made from tuna are produced here, continuing long traditions. The natural harbour was important during the Middle Ages, not just for its fishing fleet but for ships carrying wine from Sicily to Genova.
The compact town centers on the sea, with a wide piazza that holds the cathedral, the old tonnara and the town's main palazzo. Off of it, what served as fishermen's houses line up with charming effect. There are several outdoor cafes and a striking atmosphere to enjoy. Marzememi is just above the southern tip of Sicily and there are lots of great beaches in the area. To the north is the Vendicari Nature Reserve, which sees a host of migratory birds pass through.
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