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Sicily's Marsala is familiar to drinkers of dessert wines, but few people know about this little city's charms. Its marble streets are lined with beautiful Baroque buildings - some which are also among the best places to stay in Marsala - which open onto spectacular squares. But it's the friendly, relaxed attitude of the people enjoying their aperitifs in the sunshine of those squares which really makes this a wonderful place to visit.
Marsala's claim to historic fame is as the place where Italian unification began. This is where Giuseppe Garibaldi and his redshirts landed in 1860, then swept northwards until the Bourbons were off the throne.
Marsala's other claim to fame, the wine, is actually not quite as you expect: the stuff they export has actually had sugar added, while the locals drink it dry and flavoursome. You can try it in any of the local wine cellars.
Once you know those things you're ready to head out to the beaches, or a restaurant. Or one of the many museum choices, from the Museo Archeologico Baglio Anselmi, where you can see the partially reconstructed remains of a Carthaginian warship, to the John Whitaker museum, where you can see the amateur archaeologist's collections of local, mostly Phoenician, artefacts.
As with all popular destinations in Siciliy, the best places in Marsala are extremely busy during July and August, so if you're planning a summer holiday get organised and book well ahead.
- Cas'almare is a charming little five bedroom guesthouse with breathtaking views of the coast and its own private beach and beach club. Each suite has its own sun-trap balcony, or terrace, with sea views. And if you can raise yourself from your private paradise you could do some snorkelling, sailing or yoga, or take a stroll amongst gorgeous scenery.