The Tonnara (tuna processing plant) of Marzamemi was built in the sixteenth century, and is one considered as of the oldest and most important traps of Eastern Sicily. In 1630 it passed to Nicolaci of Villadorata family. The village and the church were founded only in 1752 with the arrival of the Principe di Villadorata, who ordered to build the palace in which to move in order to follow all stages of fishing, processing and marketing of tuna. The old centre of the village is situated on a little promontory and organised around the extremely picturesque Piazza Regina Margherita.
It consists of the Prince’s aristocratic Palace, projected by the great architect Vermexio, a little fishing harbour with its bobbing fleet of colourful wooden boats, a series of charming buildings, including the Church of San Francesco da Paola, the tonnara, and a row of fishermen’s houses, whose sky blue doors and potted red geraniums lend a chromatic vivacity to the whole picture. Narrow streets lead off the main square, offering glimpses of the turquoise sea to the east and north.
In 1912 it was built a processing plant for tuna salty and later tuna in oil. Fishing for tuna was plentiful until the postwar period. The history of this village has always been strongly linked to that of its tuna processing plant, which has now ceased its activities. In 2010, following an accurate restoration, the Tonnara came back to life, becoming an elegant location for conventions, celebrations and cerimonies.