Between the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, wine production in Sicily was monopolised by the British. John Woodhouse, from Liverpool, was the first to ‘discover’ Marsala and to produce and export the sweet local wine all over the world.
However, in 1834, the Florio wine cellars were established by the legendary Florio family, the first Sicilian entrepreneurs of the modern age. Wine production there reached its peak at the end of the century and the Florio family continue to create an economic empire that stretched from the metal industry to navigation and to the production of canned tuna, much of which took place on the islands of Favignana and Formica in the Egadi archipelago.
The Florio dynasty continued for some 150 years and when Ignazio Florio died in 1891, his eldest son, Ignazio Florio junior, continued the family’s activity, contributing massively to cultural and artistic activities in Palermo.
Today, Florio Marsala is still produced and distributed internationally and the famous ‘Targa Florio’ car race in the Madonie, the brainchild of Vincenzo Florio, remains a highlight for classic and vintage car enthusiasts.