As Ramadan was winding down—Just a week left to go—I went to La Marsa, Tunisia. About as close as you can get to Sicily and still be in Africa. Still, it was Ramadan so restaurants were closed (although work had begun in earnest to complete renovations before the restaurants would reopen). Museums were also closed for renovations.
La Marsa is next to Tunis and Carthage, so there’s plenty of history in the neighborhood. It’s why I went. The Marsa beach, or Marsa Plage, was just a bonus.
Carthage was founded by the Phoenicians in 814 BCE, and controlled much of the North African and Southern Spain coastlines until it’s destruction in 146 BCE. To put things in context, the city of Rome was founded in 753 BCE, and by 264 BCE the Romans had decided they were the guardians of all of Italy, including Sicily. Unfortunately for the Carthaginian Empire (aka Punic Empire), they also liked Sicily.
From 264 to 146 BCE, Rome and the Carthage fought three wars, called the Punic Wars, which included Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps and ended with the destruction of Carthage and the end of the empire. Sadly, Carthage had committed one of the classic blunders: Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!
Today, ancient Carthage is hardly more than a few stone walls.
I chose to stay in La Marsa, on the northern coast. It was a welcome relieve from the frenetic pace of Marrakech and Casablanca. The Mediterranean Sea was placid, with hardly a proper wave even when the winds were 25 MPH. Enough wind to keep folks off the beach, but ideal for the one kite surfer.
Also, I chose La Marsa as it is near to Carthage; but it hardly matters since the TGM rail road connects Tunis with Goulette and then Marsa (hence, TGM). A $1.50 train ride and you’re at the Carthage Archaeological Park. A $4 ticket grants access to 8 historic sites. Now that’s a bargain.