|MAZARA DEL VALLO|
The city is situated at the extreme southwestern tip of Sicily. Its shores have been harbour and landing places since prehistoric times for different civilizations. Under the Arabs Mazara experienced a long period of splendour which continued with the Normans. The Muslim armies landed in Mazara on 16th June 827 A.D.; the islamic quarters still existing in the town, the names of some places, of food, of people, are the only left evidence of the Arabian domination. Under the Arabs Mazara became a place of great importance for the trading activities connected both to its harbour and to agriculture, which, thanks to a skilful use and saving of waters, flourished. Nothing is left of the Arab town. The only tangible example of the islamic culture can be seen in the urban layout of some ancient quarters in the heart of the town (photos 2 and 3)
The Normans arrived in 1072 when King Roger defeated the Arabs; the big monumental religious complexes, which underwent major and sumptuous transformations under the Baroque period, are due to them. After the first period of conquest, the Normans discovered the Arabian civilization and were fascinated by it. A prosperous period began for Sicily: a long period which saw a perfect fusion of three cultures: Greek, Arab and Latin. In the field of architecture an example of the perfect mixture of the three civilizations is San NicolÚ Regale (photo n. 5) which combines a Byzantine layout with the use of small ashiars typical of the Arabs and with the arches with multiple offsets typical of the Norman style.
Two of the finest examples of the Baroque style are considered the Churches of Santa Veneranda and of San Francesco d'Assisi (photo n. 4).
Mazara nowadays has the main fishing fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. The fishing industry accounts for the main economy of the town. The second main economic aspect is linked to agriculture with a production of thousands of tons of grapes per year.
ARTS & CULTURE IN MAZARA
Apart from the numerous monumental buildings which can be found in Mazara, the small town is reasonably familiar with culture and art primarily because of two names: Pietro Consagra and, chiefly, "The Satyr".
Consagra (photo no. 7a), famous painter and sculptor, was born in Mazara in
fame has passed the Italian boundaries and his works can be found in the
most important museums in the world: the Tate Gallery in London,
the MusŤ d'Art Moderne in Paris, the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte
Moderna in Rome and in the Fondazione Guggenheim in Venice.
"The Dancing Satyr" (photos no. 9
to 12) is a bronze statue found in the deep Mediterranean sea,
not far from the Sicilian coasts, in 1998. It is considered to
belong to the hellenistic period (it is dated back to III or II century B.C.) and can be compared, from a historical
and archeological point of view, to the "Bronzi di Riace".