The history of Scopello is marked by the presence of the different populations that settled in Sicily. The Marfaggio, where the boats were stored, is the core of the Tonnara and date back to the 13th century. Above the fishing village, the watchtower was built, which fits in with the rock it presides over, and is one of the many watchtowers you will find when observing the Sicilian coastline.
Between the 15th and 16th centuries, the Tonnara underwent significant transformations after being acquired by a noble family from Trapani who ordered the construction of additional spaces. These, together with the old core, constitute our baglio. The whole complex was later left to the Jesuits. Improvements were made to the existing buildings, such as the small church, the warehouses for storing boats and the building for fishermen’s accommodation.
In 1874 the Florios and other families were awarded the Tonnara at a public auction. The Florios increased fishing productivity, thanks to their leadership and the use of better working tools. The ‘Palazzina Florio’ was commissioned by the family in order to create new premises for the administration.
The real constant in the history of this magical place out of time is tuna fishing, a very ancient, almost primitive practice, perhaps even used by the Phoenicians. Sicily has always witnessed the fertile passage of tuna during their migratory cycle in the Mediterranean Sea. Today we are left with numerous splendid Tonnara all along the coast, reminding us of the ancient and glorious practice of Sicilian fishermen.
The Tonnara di Scopello is framed in a unique natural setting of extreme beauty, a stone’s throw from the Zingaro Nature Reserve. We look forward to telling you the story of this place and the tuna fishermen, surrounded by the Mediterranean scrub and the crystal clear water.
” Ih! la sagghia! ah! leva, leva, veni! arrispunni la vuci: uhè! uhè! uhè! uhè! sagghiala sagghiala lu capitanu è bonu, e la patruna ‘mmire! a biviri n’havi a dari chi beddi giuvinotti!
uhè! uhè!… uhè! uhè! facemu forza para! a tia dicu Pippinu! uhè! uhè!… uhè! uhè! “
The songs of the tuna fishermen
Tuna were not only hunted by Tonnaroti, but also by the most feared predators in the seas. The fishermen always monitored the area around the Tonnara to ensure that the sharks did not precede them in catching the tuna.
To visit our museum we recommend you consult our page here.
Reaching the Tonnara is easy, you can find more information on our contact page.
Credits: Giorgio Comandè (Tonnara di Scopello, 1978)