Salemi

Salemi and the kingdom of the two Sicilies

Salemi is a small town situated in the South-Western part of the island, 35kms east of Marsala, in the Belice Valley. After a number of wars between Selinunte and Segesta were fought in the town, Salemi was eventually conquered by the Romans and declared a free city and free from taxes. Later it fell under the dominion of the Vandals and then of the Goths. After being ruled by the Arabs, the Normans and the Swabians, in 1860 in the Town Hall Square, Garibaldi declared himself dictator of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In 1968, Salemi was badly hit by a strong earthquake which destroyed much of the town's historical centre and the new town was built a little further down the valley. The remains of the old town are characterised by an Arabic layout with dead ends leading to segregated courtyards and staircases on particularly steep slopes, making it particularly charming despite the post-earthquake building and construction. In the centre of Salemi, stands the imposing Castello di Federico II, and within its walls lies the former Jesuit college, the archeological museum as well as the Museum of the Resurgence and the Museum of Sacred Art which are all well-worth visiting. In recent years, one of the town's squares "Piazza Alicia" was listed as one of the 60 good examples of Squares in Europe for urban planning and implemantation.
Salemi is also home to the Museum of the Mafia which attracts both Italian and foreign visitors. The walk through the Museum starts off in a section that is divided into 10 "voting booths" that show issues connected to the Mafia, such as assassinations; intimidation; the relationship between Mafia and the church; energy and water management; imprisonment; politics; the health system and lastly, the family. The next part of the Museum deals with building construction in Palermo without permits and the last section shows 150 years of Mafia history by looking at old newspaper articles, interviews and documentaries.