Marettimo has always been an important post of call for all the
peoples going across the Mediterranean to trade or to conquer,
and its history is characterized by continuous invasions. The
first certain inhabitants were the Phoenicians (Mozia, near Marettimo,
is the cradle of Phoenician settlements).
The historians suppose that during the numerous fights between
the Romans and the Carthaginians the island had an important
role: just off the coasts of the Egadi, in 241 b.C., took place
the decisive battle between the Carthaginian fleet and the Roman
fleet. The Romans, led by Lutazio Catullo, won the battle and
settled in Marettimo too a little garrison witnessed today by
the rests at Case Romane ("Roman
Houses").In 440 the Vandals of Genserico arrived at Favignana
to raid, and they didn't spare Marettimo.
In 485 the Egadi passed
to Odoacer and then to Theodoric, the king of the Goths.
After the occupation of Sicily in 810, the Saracens built in
Marettimo some sighting towers. Under the Arab domination in
the Egadi Islands, witnessed by the typical architecture of the
houses, Marettimo too enjoyed a period of peace, characterized
by intense trade.
Then the Normans drove the Arabians away, and later the Swabians
took the place of the Normans: the succession of the dominations
didn't change the state of things, until Charles V of Hapsburg
ascended the throne: the pirate Khair-Ad-Din called the "Barbarossa",
master of Algiers and Tunis, organized an expedition against
him. The soldiers arrived at Marsala and subjected the Egadi
to sacks and all kinds of outrages. Many inhabitants of Marettimo
were captured and ended up as slaves in Algeria, until the government
ransomed them after the peace negotiations.
In 1637 Philip IV of Bourbon of Spain sold the Egadi to the Palllavicinos
of Genoa. During the XVIII century they introduced agriculture
in these islands, thus helping the inhabitants to improve their
way of life: they began to leave the caves and use them for the
cattle, while a lot of trees were cut down to provide land for
farming. Marettimo, the most far and rocky island of the Egadi,
was exploited above all by the carpenters.
During the Risorgimento the Egadi received hundreds of rebels
send in exile or confined in the dismal cells of the fortresses
and the prisons. Marettimo too was populated with deportees,
enclosed in the water cistern dug at the foot of the castle
of Punta Troia. It was closed in 1844 according to king Ferdinand
From 1860, after the expedition of the Thousand, the islanders
knew a period of peace and welfare, interrupted by the war of
1915-'18, where the inhabitants of Marettimo too died for the
recently united Italy. The list of the dead grew longer with
the second world war, during which many inhabitants of Favignana
died also under air raids.
At the end of the war the Egadi had a short period of economic
recovery, until the sad phenomenon of emigration began. It came
to a standstill only in the last years thanks also to the tourism,
that however has not damaged the ancient and wild beauty of these
The secret of Marettimo and of the Egadi, exact centre of the
Mediterranean Sea, lands of passage and conquest, is still to
discover in the culture and the traditions of the islanders and
in their ancestral link with fishing and the sea.
Near I century a.C. the little communities of the Egadi Islands
enjoyed a relative peace. While Sicily was under Roman rule,
the few rests of that time found in the Egadi could be the sign
that there were only few defence settlements.
Marettimo in particular was certainly a Roman garrison. Still
today the plateau overlooking the village is called Case Romane
("Roman Houses") and preserves the rests of a large
"opus reticulatum" building, from which overlooks the
sea from the east of the island to the Sicilian coast. We still
don't know neither its use, maybe defensive, nor its exact age,
assumed between the I century b.C. and the II a. C.
CASTLE OF PUNTA TROIA
Built on the top of a suggestive promontory at the extreme north-west
point of Marettimo, the castle rises on the foundation of a sighting
little tower, built in the IX century by the Saracens. In the
XII century the Norman king of Sicily Roger II fortified the
defensive postings of the Egadi, among which the little tower
of Punta Troia;
but it was about in 1600 that the Spanish built the present castle,
providing it with a large cistern to gather the rain water and
of a small church called "Real Chiesa Parrocchiale"
The same Spanish lately used the cistern as a prison for the
most disgraceful crimes: the first "guest" was a very
young parricide. From the end of '700 it was used as a prison
for political crimes: in 1798 there was jailed Guglielmo Pepe,
the most famous among the patriots of the Neapolitan Republic
who suffered dreadful pains in this pit without neither light
From the shutting of the jail, in 1844, the fortress was used
for military purposes until the last war.