Marettimo: a Byzantine church in Ulysses’ homeland

Marettimo, Favignana, Sicilia

We are in Ithaca, Ionian Islands, Greece… or maybe it’s Marettimo, Aegadian Islands, Italy.

It was British writer Samuel Butler who first speculated – and publicly declared his deep conviction – that the long wanderings of Ulysses narrated by Homer in fact revolved around Sicily (he also argued that the poem was actually written by a “young maiden”, hence the title of his 1897 book, “The Authoress of the Odyssey”).

After extensive research for his essay during frequent trips to and around the Italian island, Butler pinpointed Marettimo – the westernmost of the Aegadian Islands – as the Greek Ithaca in the great classic.

Marettimo – twenty miles west of Trapani, with a population of less than 700 scattered in an area of twelve square kilometers – has an 11th-century church that was likely built by Byzantine monks over an older site, also dedicated to Christian rituals.

You can see it showcased in our gallery below or you can visit it in person, in a locality known as “Case romane” (“Roman Houses”), where remains of military settlements from the 2nd century BC have been found.

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August 4, 2016