Street Journey to the Deep South of Sicily

Observe: letters in brackets correspond with the map on the backside of the article.

It’s darkish after I arrive at Palermo airport, too late to absorb the surroundings, so I hit the Autostrada going east. I’ve heard that driving in Sicily is just not for the faint-hearted so after 100km, I’m completely satisfied to reach safely on the Resort Vacationer in Cefalu. Subsequent morning it’s sunny as I begin the street to the South, and I climb upwards into the Madonie mountains previous hilltop cities like Geraci Siculo (B) and Petralia Sottana (C). The forested slopes quickly give option to craggy peaks however immediately the mist comes down.

Visibility is zero so I reduce my losses and drop right down to the valley and take the direct path to Agrigento (D). Initially known as Akragas, this was one in all Sicily’s richest and strongest Greek cities and now solely the fifth century BC Doric temples stay. They’re simply outdoors the city, on a low ridge, and a go to to the Valle dei Templi is to not be missed. You see them as you strategy, towering above you and so they’re exceptionally well-preserved. It takes no less than half a day to discover them absolutely and greatest to set out early within the morning earlier than the solar reaches its peak.

Agrigento Temple, Sicily, Italy

Agrigento Temple (c) Rupert Parker

In fact, I get there round noon and battle with the warmth as I clamber over the ruins. Thankfully, my subsequent cease is a somewhat pleasant olive farm, Azienda Agricola Mandranova, a 20 minute drive away, my dwelling for the evening. A part of it has been transformed to a boutique lodge and I can’t resist a dip within the pool. It’s harvest time and truckloads of the ripe fruit are arriving to be crushed within the mill. As you’d anticipate, meals right here is great, native produce to the fore, and all accompanied by their superb inexperienced olive oil.

Subsequent day, I drive east, taking a winding coastal street by means of olive groves, passing deserted farm buildings and tomato greenhouses, in numerous phases of decay. That is the guts of Sicily’s dreamy south which vacationers don’t usually see. What folks might be conversant in is the tiny seaside village of Punta Secca (E) because it’s a location for the TV model of Inspector Montalbano. His fictional house is in a wonderful place, proper on the seashore, with a big terrace opening out to the ocean. He all the time begins his morning with a swim so, in fact, how can I resist? The water is heat, barely uneven, however very refreshing. In the summertime this place is packed however at this time it’s virtually abandoned.

Punta Secca Beach with Montalbano House, Sicily, Italy

Punta Secca Seashore with Montalbano Home (c) Rupert Parker

My subsequent vacation spot is Scicli (F), half an hour inland, the place the city corridor doubles because the police station. This is among the South’s well-known baroque cities, rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in 1693, and it’s the placement for a lot of scenes within the TV sequence. Driving here’s a nightmare, because the streets are so slender, and the GPS takes me down blind alleys as I attempt to make my option to Resort Novecentro. This can be a restored Palazzo with only a handful of rooms and mine has a powerful painted ceiling, with a balcony opening to the road. It’s base for exploring the city, so I abandon the automotive and set out on foot.

Scicli, Sicily, Italy

Scicli (c) Rupert Parker

Above the centre is a limestone ridge, the positioning of the unique settlement, topped by the deserted church of San Matteo. As defence turned much less of a precedence, the city regularly moved downhill to its current web site, though folks have been nonetheless residing in caves within the facet of the cliff till the 1950’s. As you’d anticipate, the views are spectacular and rambling overgrown paths lead previous abandoned cave dwellings to the church of Santa Maria della Catena, itself constructed into the rock.

Again within the centre, the Municipio or city corridor is on the head of the pedestrianised By way of Momina Penna. Two immense columns body the doorway and there’s a grand balcony above flying the flags of Italy, Sicily and the EU. The road itself is an extended meeting of ornate church buildings and palazzi with tables outdoors prepared for that early night aperitif. The Palazzo Bartolomeo, simply not far away is maybe Scicli’s Baroque masterpiece, with grotesque grinning figures, full with bald heads and tongues outstretched, supporting its lengthy balconies.

Scicli Townhall, Sicily, Italy

Scicli Townhall (c) Rupert Parker

Noto (G), round an hour away, was began afresh on a brand new web site after the 1693 earthquake destroyed the unique city, now fully deserted just a few miles away. The baroque centre is constructed on a grid sample, with two distinct sections – the decrease city for the political and non secular buildings and the higher for the folks. The principle road, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, begins on the imposing Porta Reale, runs previous the dual towered Cathedral, and is stuffed filled with the city’s celebrated buildings.

Noto Cathedral, Sicily, Italy

Noto Cathedral (c) Rupert Parker

Ragusa (H), within the different route, was additionally constructed on a grid plan after the earthquake however right here the unique city was rebuilt by the inhabitants following the medieval road format. It makes for 2 distinct sections, Ragusa Ibla beneath and the Baroque city of Ragusa Superiore above. You want to be pretty match to climb to the brand new Cathedral however the reward is a shocking view of the roofs of the previous straddling its outcrop of rock.

Ragusa, Sicily, Italy

Ragusa (c) Rupert Parker

To finish my journey I drive to Portopalo (I), the southernmost city on the island, and at one stage the street offers out fully. I battle on, because the heavens open, and at last attain the ocean. The tiny islet of Capo Passero is the true south-eastern tip of Sicily and I could make out the ruins of the 16th century fortress, constructed to repel Turkish pirates. At the moment, although, it’s the waves crashing over the low causeway which stop me reaching my last vacation spot.

Status Holidays (01425 480400) presents a 5 evening break in Sicily for £489 pp. It consists of flights with Ryanair from Stansted to Palermo, a rent automotive (Group A), two nights at Resort Vacationer on HB, one evening at Mandranova on BB and two nights at Resort Novecento on BB, then Ryanair flights again from Comiso to Stansted.

One week’s Meet and Greet airport parking at Stansted Airport with Airport Parking and Accommodations (APH) prices from solely £63.

Italia has details about the nation.

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