The Phoenicians colonized the tiny island of San Pantelo in the 8th century BC and built Mozia, one of their three cities on Sicily, set within a ring of ramparts and towers. They remained until Dionysius, the power-hungry Siracusan, routed them in 397BC.
The Phoenicians went back and forth across the lagoon on a revised road, which now lay submerged beneath the shallow waters. Taoday’s visitors reach the island by the ferry that departs from a landing stage opposite the island. The mainland near San Pantelo is marshy and parceled into salt pans, and windmills that were once used to refine the salt rise above the flat landscape. One of the mills near the landing the Mulino Salina Infers, houses a small museum devoted to salt extraction.
Joseph Whitaker, from a prosperous family of Marsala wine exporters, bought the island and began to excavatee the ruins in 1913. His finds lay scattered across the tiny walls, Punic dry dock (Cothon), a sacrificial site (Tohpet), and a house with a floor of pebble mosaics. The Museo Whitaker displays Punic and Greek finds from the island including the famous Giovane in Tunica, Young Man in a Tunic, an exquisite, 5th century BC marble statue of sinuous young man who may have been a charioteer.