The Phoenicians were a Semitic sea-faring people from North Africa, who traded with Spain and Sardinia as early as 1000 B.C. According to Thucydides, they established a trading colony on the island of Motya, off the coast of Trapani in the northwest around 700 B.C. An interesting history of that small island and of the Phoenician culture that grew there can be found in Gaia Servadio’s Motya: Unearthing a Lost Civilization (Phoenix Books).
Having established another major outpost in Tunisia, which was to become the city of Carthage, they moved on to northwestern Sicily, establishing themselves at Erice, where the original walls they built can still be seen. The Phoenicians became a major Mediterranean commercial and military power, their empire surviving until the Third Punic War, when they were defeated by the Romans and their capital, Carthage, was destroyed.
Medieval Castle in Erice