Between Baroque Cities and Seaside Villages on the Eastern Coast of Sicily
This journey provides the knowledge of the southern cusp of Sicily, where you can combine a visit to the cities of art with nature trails of great beauty.
In 1693, a terrible earthquake destroyed the cities of the Val di Noto region, which were rebuilt in the dominant style of the time, the late baroque. During this time, the style was experiencing its climax, but also the beginning of its end. This dichotomy, like the mixture of opulent decoration with dramatic elements, seemed to well reflect the restlessness caused by such destructive events. An example can be the presence of sad-faced cherubs in facades full of luxurious architectural elements.
The Baroque of the Val di Noto (Noto Valley), which expresses itself so well in the local white stone and its cities, have become UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Noto and Avola will welcome you with their streets lined with rich buildings shining in the sun, also providing the opportunity to visit the abandoned ruins of the area which preserve architectural remains of a past rich in history, encompassing a path of great interest.
The coast will instead offer you seaside villages of great beauty and charm where you will discover the ancient flavors of genuine cuisine.
Alongside the beauty of these places, the richness of the gastronomic products is a great addition. First is the tuna, famous both for its meat and for the famous bottarga (dried tuna eggs), fished in the places where this activity was already practiced in Roman times. All kinds of fresh fish and typical agricultural products, such as cherry tomatoes, which the combination of the brackish earth and the heat of the sun, makes so fragrant. Delicious flavors accompanied by a robust wine stored, as ancient tradition dictates, in containers placed underground (spingi e ammutta).
Best season : From May to October
Included / Not Included
Assistance upon arrival at the airport in Catania
Car rental with insurance
7 nights in minimum 3-star hotel
7 hotel dinners
1 Museum Entrance
Boat trip from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with lunch
Noto and Syracuse Tour Guide
Travel accessories and telephone with Italian SIM
Directions and suggestions for best bars and restaurants
Telephone assistance in Italian, English, Spanish and French
Flights to/from your home city
Meals where not mentioned
Travel Insurance (strongly recommended)
Upon your arrival at the Catania airport (or at the train station), you will find an Italy-Trails representative who will welcome you and give you the travel materials. You will then collect the rental car, which you will need for the adventures provided in your itinerary. You will immediately set off to reach Portopalo, arriving in about two hours. You will leave your luggage at the hotel, and after having rested a bit, you will take a road by the sea to get to Marzamemi, a small village where you can stroll through the lively streets of the center flanked by shops, small clubs and boutiques. You will have the opportunity to visit the Cathedral that stands in the town square and admire the ancient and characteristic fishermen’s houses. A visit to the ancient tonnara will introduce you to the historic buildings where fish was processed. Do not overlook Balata, a small port enclosed by a tiny island where the house of Vitaliano Brancato stands. Gabriele Salvatores Sud’s film and numerous scenes of the television series on Inspector Montalbano were shot here. The Campisi brothers’ shop is also worth a visit, specializing in the products of the artisanal processing of tuna, combined with agricultural products of this land, such as the cherry tomato. Dinner in a typical restaurant on the sea.
Return to the hotel in Portopalo for the night.
In the morning after breakfast, you will take a tour of the characteristic fish market of Portopalo, then take a boat to the marina to go near the islet, where you will swim in the crystal clear waters, taking in the Caribbean colors.
From the sea, you will see the tonnara of the princes of Belmonte, one of the last to practice ancient tuna fishing using a death chamber.
In the afternoon, you will visit Avola and its splendid Mother Church. The city, as well as for the Baroque, is famous for the production of almonds, so we advise you to taste a typical almond granita or a dessert. The ancient tonnara not far away in the locality of Maredolce is worth seeing. Dinner in a typical restaurant. Return to the hotel in Portopalo for the night.
In the morning after breakfast, you will visit the city of Noto, starting from the site where the ancient city destroyed by the earthquake once stood.
The ancient city of Noto shows its ruins in the midst of lush nature, which makes it even more impressive. Proceeding towards the hilly area of San Corrado outside the walls, past the stupendous sanctuary of Madonna della Scala, you reach the mighty sixteenth-century walls of Noto Antica, whose origin dates back to the Bronze Age (XVIII – XV century BC). From the road, before arriving at the small bridge over the stream, you can admire the Sicilian necropolis of the fourth period (730 – 650 BC). Along the rocky bank on the right, before arriving at the foot of the Mountain, you can visit the Grotta del Carciofo, a Jewish catacomb, and the large Grotta dalle Cento Bocche, a Byzantine catacomb. Crossing the entrance door of ancient Noto, you will find the Arms Room with the stables on the left, while on the right stands the Castle with the Maestra Tower dating back to 1431. At the top of the climb, you can admire the Carosello Valley where the Asinaro River begins and, below the mountain are the leather tanneries excavated by the Arabs. Continuing along the road, you will arrive at the Palace of the
Barons of Belludia with its various rooms; in front of it, you will see the pillars of the Jesuit Church with the ruins of the College, sought by the Baron of Buxello.
A nice walk will lead you to Piazza Maggiore, the heart of the city during the sixteenth century, embellished with artistic fountains, where you will meet your tour guide for a visit to the new city of Noto, welcoming you with its palaces and baroque churches. You will enter the center from the Royal Gate, a triumphal arch built for the occasion of the visit of the King of the Two Sicilies, Ferdinand II. You will continue to visit the Church of Santa Chiara, a baroque architecture of the highest value, the Cathedral of San Nicolò, another baroque jewel of the eighteenth century that dominates the entire historic center and the Palazzo dei Principi di Nicolaci, recently restored to its former glory, which well represents the sumptuousness of the historic center of Noto.
At the end of your visit, especially if you have chosen the month of August, stop and taste a refreshing delight: the jasmine ice cream. Dinner in a typical restaurant.
Return to the hotel in Portopalo for the night.
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itinerary for this trip to Italy
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