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Val di Noto

The Val di Noto, from the Norman period until its abolition in 1812, was an administrative district that dealt with justice, treasury and the militia of the Kingdom of Sicily. Following the earthquake of 1693 the major urban centers of the Vallo were reduced to rubble. The subsequent reconstruction of the first decades of the 18th century sees the cities devastated by the earthquake to adopt architectural and artistic solutions that characterize the entire Vallo. This real flowering of the Baroque taste was recognized in 2002 as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO supranational organization. The cities included are: Caltagirone, Catania, Militello in the Val di Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo Acreide, Ragusa, Scicli.

The city of Noto

Art historian Cesare Brandi called Noto “il Giardino di Pietra”, literally the Stone Gardens. About 50 churches and religious institutes, 15 noble palaces, convents and homes to the ancient aristocrats. Baroque breathes in the city, proud and magnificent in the historical centre, delicate and almost elusive uptown and surrounding neighbourhoods. Noto’s Baroque declines in a myriad of forms from majestic stairways, grotesque masks, balustrades, hidden courtyards, steep hills and narrow lanes. Let curiosity be your guide through the streets of Noto.


Read our article on "things to do in Noto"

The coast

Twenty kilometres of unspoiled beaches and natural coves along the route SS19, amongst them “Calamosche” voted Italy’s most beautiful beach in 2005 and “Vendicari Nature Reserve”, today one of the most representative wetlands in Europe. Hundreds of bird species choose it, each year, as a resting place on their way towards their breeding and wintering grounds. Further north, Lido di Noto recently awarded five sails by Legambiente. Furthermore, still along the coast, one can find various sites of archaeological interest, amongst them “Eloro”, “Pizzuta column”, “Stampace Tower” and the “Villa Romana del Tellaro” with its splendid mosaics of exceptional workmanship. The Reserve itself being dotted with numerous evidences of an opulent past like the “Sveva Tower” also known as the “Vendicari Castle” and further south the “Maccari Citadel” rich in relics of the Byzantine era.

The countryside

Long Route SS 287, only a few kilometers away from Noto, rattles off another scenic route. In “San Corrado Fuori Le Mura”, comes the suggestive “Miracle Valley”, where at the very bottom you will find the hermitage in which the Saint Patron of the city - San Corrado - lived part of his life. Going north, one passes by “S. Maria della Scala sanctuary” and then, only three kilometers away, lie hidden on the slopes of “Mount Alveria”, “Noto Antica” daunting ruins of an abandoned city, completely destroyed by devastating 1693’s earthquake. From there on, almost beside, the little village of “Testa dell’Acqua”, but also “Casteluccio necropolis”, and then “La Grotta dei Santi” but also “La Grotta della Signora” with hundreds of tombs dug in the caves. To be found in the same area “Cava Grande del Cassibile”, the deepest canyon in Europe and its numerous Sicels necropolis excavated in the very steep rock walls carved by the river Cassibile for millennia.

Baroque Cities

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Visit Noto is almost a cultural duty: since 2002 its architectonic heritage has got into the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Noto is also called the Capital of the Baroque, it became a pride to the Italian nation. Its beauty rise essentially from a misfortune: in January 1693 a disastrous earthquake destroyed the ancient Noto but soon people started the rebuilding of the baroque jewel, the one that the whole world envy.

From then ancient Noto died and the new town was rebuilt in order to the Sicilian baroque rules, carefulness the architect oriented the town with the cardinal points, so that the churches and palaces facades could have a good light, in every part of the day. The effect is almost spectacular, it’s amazing the view on sunset when the redden sun give a golden color to the center building. The Main Street is Corso Vittorio Emanuele, it begins from the Royal Arch and is broke by some beautiful squares along its way. The first square you cross is San Francesco with the church from which take the name, than a series of picturesque buildings. Along your walk you should have a look to the windows with the beautiful iron grilles. Going on you can see the amazing Saint Niccolò cathedral in front of the Town Hall in Ducezio Palace.

Also the next square, XVI Maggio square, is in the presence of another beautiful church, Saint Dominique’s church. You can come back walking parallel to the main street in via Cavour, along your walk you can admire lots of ancient palaces that in the past were the residences of Noto’s noble families, the most beautiful is surely Nicolaci Palace, ancient residence of the Prince Corrado Nicolaci of Villadorata. But Noto isn’t only baroque, in fact, its territory lend itself to start lots of activities: from mountain to sea. You can choose to have an excursion among ancient Noto’s ruins, or visit Villa Romana of Tellaro’s mosaics, or you can prefer to spend your days in one of the various beaches of Noto coast. In the end how not mention the Nature Reserve of Vendicari, which gives shelter to hundreds species of birds which choose Vendicari every year as a rest in their migratory journey.


The succession of historical events, from the early settlements that date back to Fourteenth century BC the Greek-Roman domination, left sublime signs in the city, one of urban jewels of Sicily. Ortigia, an island near the coast, founded by the Corinthians, is certainly the most fascinating part of Syracuse. Waiting to be discovered step by step, including palaces and monuments of great value.


Remember Maniace Castle, on the tip of the island, which had the function to protect the island; Apollo Temple, dated sixth century before Christ, you can find it in Pancali square; the beautiful cathedral with its large Doric columns, and Arethusa Fountain, a spring of fresh water where you can admire the only place where the papyrus grows spontaneously in Italy and perhaps in Europe. Among the most charming and most secret of Ortigia, you should visit the Hypogeum in Duomo square and the Jewish Purification Bath.


The Hypogeum entrance is opened at the base of the garden of the Archbishop, next to Duomo. Stones hollow have been found not only at the border of the ancient Greek city, but even in the same island of Ortigia. The subsoil of Syracuse is thus traversed by a network of tunnels and galleries, often of great beauty. During the Second World War, the network of tunnels was adapted to shelter from the bombing, there is a series of moving images of the time, projected on the spot, documenting the historical episode. The Jewish Purification Bath is in the Residence Hotel “Alla Giudecca” (Via Alagona, 52), an ancient patrician building which hides in its basement the most important and suggestive Miqwè (Jewish ritual purification bath) of Europe, the Byzantine era. This site, center of Jewish spiritual life, evidenced by the existence of one of the oldest Jewish community in Syracuse among the Mediterranean. The Miqwè, ritual purification bath, located 18 meters below the level of pedestrian and fed by pure spring water, is the only ritual baths in Europe that still preserves its integrity and charm.


The atmosphere full of echoes and shadows, sounds of dripping water of these places are full of charm, and in summer it is also an oasis of welcome cool. For these reasons, the visit is certainly recommended to anyone who can save ten minutes from the time of the visit of the city.


Who looked carefully at its appearance gave it the name of “bridges city”; instead artists and scholar renamed it “the island in the island” or “the other Sicily” because of its peculiarity compared with the other places in the region. But its real name is Ragusa, a Sicilian city of about 73 thousands of inhabitants, placed at the feet of the Iblei Mountains, Ragusa is none of the eight baroque cities of Noto Valley. An important turning point of its story is in 1963, when a terrible earthquake destroyed Ragusa almost completely, razing houses and palaces to the ground and causing a lot of victims.


With the progressive renaissance the city was divided in two big districts; a modern side of Ragusa and an ancient one called Ragusa Ibla, realized on the ruins of the old city and following the medieval rules. With the rebuilding work the city acquired new artistic treasures as palaces and picturesque corner that made Ragusa the beautiful city that we see today. Among the most important buildings we suggest to the tourist to visit Duomo square, heart of the city, with Saint Giorgio’s church, which is the real symbol of Ragusa. Nicastro Palace, that was an ancient chancellery, is one of the most beautiful example of the Sicilian baroque.


The richness of Ragusa’s territory is clear in Bertini Palace, it has got fabulous big masks in its facade as a sign of the reach people opulence who lived there. A baroque art jewel in Sicily, also the place where are set most of the adventures of the most famous Italian police chief: Salvo Montalbano, the mith-character come out from Andrea Camilleri’s pen.


Modica is one of the most pittoresque cities of Sicily. Placed on the south side of Iblei Mountains; it is divided into two original sides: high Modica, in which building and houses seams that climb the mountain, and low Modica, down into the valley, where now is situated Corso Umberto, that is the main street and the town historical center. The appearances of the town buildings are mostly late baroque style, dated back to the period after the earthquake (1693).


The baroque route in Modica begins from Saint Giorgio Cathedral, one of the symbol of the south- west Sicily. Just on the left of the square a sloped street, saint Giorgio street, leads to the beautiful architecture, its position makes a division from the high side to the low side of the city. The next stage is Saint Pietro Church situated on the top of a beautiful flight of steps and guarded by the twelve apostles statues.


Next to the church and the steps an anonymous entrance leads to a very baroque jewel of rock architecture: the little church of Saint Nicolò lower. In 1880 Francesco Bonajuto, follow in his father footsteps, opened his first confectionary shop, which is still there, just in front of saint Pietro church in a little and sweet-smelling alley.


The baroque town of Scicli, recently inserted in UNESCO Heritage List, is situated in the south-east side of Sicily, in Ragusa province. Its territory borders with Modica and Ragusa and then expand to the coast side. Scicli is one of the principal center of the Sicilian baroque path; the elegant city is situated in a broad reach valley among the rock hills.


The baroque is the best period of the local architecture. Examples of baroque style are buildings and churches such as: Beneventano, Massari, Fava and Spadaro palaces; the town hall and Saint John evangelist, Saint Ignazio, Saint Batrolomeo churches. Those architectures rebuilt in the eighteen century make a wonderful setting where you can have charming walks.

Palazzolo Acreide

Akrai was founded in 664 b.C.; the various dominations that took turns over the centuries were: Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman. From that the various names given to the city: Akrai, Acre, Balansùl, or Placeolum, Palatioli and finally Palazzolo  which in 1862 was added the patronymic of Acreide. Destroyed by an earthquake in 1693 revived the eighteenth century Palazzolo. In the Popolo Square there is the imposing Church of St. Sebastian with its spectacular staircase, the interior has three naves, with fine stucco work dating back to 1783. In eighteenth-century architecture is the Town Hall which was built on the site of the Benedictine Monastery. The Church of the Annunciation is the oldest of Palazzolo.


Rebuilt after the earthquake, it had a more impressive, with three naves. There are three works of indisputable artistic merit: the altar of marble inlaid with marbles of different colors, representing the allegory of spring, the portal of the façade dating back to 700 is a Spanish baroque and intonation. In addition to Palazzolo you can take a stroll through the ancient archaeological ruins of Akrai, among which you can enjoy the Greek theater.

Natural Escapes

We recommend you not to move during the hottest hours of the day and wear sneakers or reef shoes, sunscreen, hat, plenty of water and bag snacks!

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Vendicari Natural Reserve

The oriented nature reserve “Oasis Faunistica di Vendicari” was established in 1984 by the Sicilian Region. It is located precisely between Noto and Pachino (province of Syracuse) with a territory that covers about 1512 hectares. Inside the reserve, an entire ecosystem lives undisturbed. Frequently you will find yourself in front of breathtaking landscapes, thick vegetation that suddenly opens up to a crystalline sea, to long and golden beaches, which in a few hundred meters become rocks overhanging a deep sea. From the observation huts you can admire Flamingos, Herons, Storks that stop here before reaching the final migratory destinations.

Here are the 3 itineraries:


Blue path: his path will allow you to visit the northern zone of the reserve.  Starting from the beach of Eloro, 2 steps away from the excavations of the ancient greek city, after a stop to the beach of Marianelli you will reach the beach of Calamosche, the most famous beach of the reserve.


Orange route: Starting from the main entrance of Vendicari, crossing the cabanas of observation for the birdwatching, thanks this itinerary you will visit the Tonnara, the Sveva Tower, the beach of Vendicari, until you will reach the beach of Calamosche.


Green route: Starting from the entrance of Cittadella Maccari next to the beach of San Lorenzo, this path will allow you to visit the Cittadella, the Trigona, the byzantine necropolis, and will reach its final destination, the Tonnara of Vendicari. This is the most “archeological” and longer path.

R.N.O. Cavagrande del cassibile

The extensive karst plateaus of the Iblei Mountains characterize the southeastern landscape extremity of Sicily, between the provinces of Ragusa and Siracusa. Especially in the latter that the plateau assumes spectacular aspects for the presence of deep fractures, “cave” calls, which furrow the edges. It is produced by erosion of the canyon streams still run on their background, looking at times superb as in the case of Cavagrande, one of the most majestic and impressive, now protected as a nature reserve, it was in Paleolithic era headquarters of inhabited settlements. On the walls there were 8 thousand carved rock tombs type cave, dating from the 10th and 9th centuries BC.


Like a diamond set in jewel, a valley almost a canyon, where even the most secular visiting the nature reserve regains the pleasure of contemplating the wonders of nature.


How to get: take the SS 115 for Avola, take the ring road and turn left at the “Avola Antica”; after about 10 km of hairpin bends, you reach the intersection with Cavagrande ( the sign is clearly visible).

Necropoli di Pantalica

Pantalica is naturalistic-archaeological localities of the province of Syracuse. In 2005 it was honored with the historic center of Syracuse the title of World Heritage Site. The site is located on a plateau surrounded by canyons formed over millennia by two rivers, the Anapo and Calcinara, which led to the terrain in canyons characteristic of the area. The plateau and the underlying valleys (Valle dell’Anapo) are important natural areas. Several trails allow you to visit the site. The Anapo Valley is accessible from two gates connected to each other, from the side of the side of Sortino and Ferla. This trail runs for more than 10 km on the track of the former railway line Siracusa-Vizzini.

The visit to the plateau may be based on a so-called Sella Filiporto, reachable from the village of Ferla or the other side, from the side of Sortino, passing over the so-called Cave of bats.

How to get:
take the highway to Syracuse, Floridia output; from here continue to Sortino-Pantalica towards Anapo Valley. Along the road to Ferla is the necropolis of Panatalica.


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Eloro Pizzuta

Eloro Pizzuta

The seaside area of Eloro Pizzuta is quite isolated and not very crowded. This beach is in a natural basin surrounded by maquis and the archeological site of Eloro. You can spend your best day in this fantastic natural landscape.



The ancient city of Eloro was founded by settlers landed from the near Greece in the VII century b. c. The archeological excavations made in 1899 brought to light the town walls and some squared towers dated back to VI century. In the south area of the town you can see the temple ruins of the IV century b. c. and another bigger temple that was Demetra’s sanctuary. Outside of the walls there are the ruins of a theater, maybe dated to IV century. Moreover nearer to the beach there are the ruins of Demetra and Kore’s sanctuary.


Pizzuta Column

About one kilometer far from the north side of Eloro town there is a big chalky column, called “Pizzuta”. The origins of this archeological find is quite controversial. In the period before the excavations made by the archeologist Paolo Orsi people believed that the column was built during the Greek rule, in memory of Eloro battle. In 1899 Paolo Orsi discovered that at the feet of the column there was a stone door that contains skeletons and funerary things. Therefore Pizzuta column is considered a funerary monument of a family vault dated to III century b. c.


Pizzuta beach is the first and less known beach of the Natural reserve of Vendicari. It is a small and cute beach, mainly frequented by local people due to its easy access from Lido di Noto. It’s secured between two hills where it is still possible to take a wlak among the ruind of the ancinte Greek town of Eloro. Its transparent cristal waters are hard to resist.

Eloro | Tellaro

Eloro Beach is the main beach of the north part of the Natural reserve. It takes its name by the ancient Greek torn of Eloro and where the tellaro river meets the sea. It also possible to admire some migratory species early in the morning. Due to its easy access is one of the most crowded beach during summer. A walking path from the parking. The beach is not equipped

Marianelli Beach

This beach might be frequented by nudists. Marianelli beach is an isolated beach connected through a path to Eloro beach and the mouth of the Tellaro river. It’s a beautiful shore about 600 meters long featured by soft and golden sand fringed by sand dunes and the green of the Maquis.


The coast is soaked by a blue and crystal clear sea. This beach is not equipped so it’s perfect for people who want to spend the day on their own quietly and peacefully.

Calamosche Bay

It’s one of the most suggestive and popular beaches of Vendicari natural reserve. Leaving the car in the close car park, you need a 30 minutes’ walk to reach the beach. If you want to have a quiet day we suggest you not to go in July or August, because the long walk under the hot sun could be too hard to people who are not used to the hot Sicilian weather, moreover the beach could be too crowded.

Lido Baiamuri

Between Marzamemi and Portopalo, the generous bay of Morghella opens up. A look at the blue of the crysrtalline sea where at your dsposal ther will be 56 sunbeds, 8 daily beds, 8 seasighting, a lounge bar area, a temporeary boutique.

Vendicari Natural Reserve

With its uncontaminated coast 8 km long, Vendicari reserve allows the tourists to have a lot of activities. The plant lie and wild life variety attract those who love nature to have long walks in close contact with nature.


Instead, as for the history lovers, they would be fascinated by the ancient ruins of the “Tonnare” from which the prince of Villadorata controlled his fish trade, the old lighthouse and the “Sveva Tower”.

Cittadella dei Màccari Beach

Its name derives from the opposite Màccari feud. Cittadella beach is the latest of the natural reserve of Vendicari’s beaches. Like the other reserve beaches, it is featured by a crystal clear sea and by a fine and golden sand surrounded by maquis; there are also little caves made by the sea waves that divided the beach into two bays.

Agua beach Resort

Located just off the south entrance of Vendicari, San Lorenzo offers a beach that remembers Caribbean colors. Agua beach resort is equipped with all comforts: there are beach umbrellas, very big and far between them; you will also find a self-service, if you decide to have lunch there, you can make use of it. You’ll find a cozy atmosphere and a kind staff.

Isola delle Correnti

The island of the currents for its position represents a sort of ideal boundary between the Ionian and the Mediterranean Sea. The currents generated by the encounter of these two seas give life to ripples and colors in continuous evolution ... hence the name “Isola delle Correnti”. “Lido Playa Carratois” and “Le Dune” are equipped with sun beds, bar area and a tavern where it is possible to have lunch on the sand.

Sampieri Beach

In the province of Ragusa, Sampieri Beach is characterize by of the fewer Sicilian examples of industrial ruins the Fornace Penna. Its construction dates back to between 1909 and 1912 at the wish of Baron Guglielmo Penna. It should be borne in mind that for some years it has been renamed by the successful television series of Commissioner Montalbano “La Mànnara”.

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* Michelin star

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Viva il bistrot

Type: Bistrot
via Rocco Pirri n. 19
+39 334 793 3384

W Villadorata

Type: Restaurant
contrada Portelle sn
+39 342 816 3083


Type: Trattoria

via Principe Umberto n. 46
+39 0931 968 608


Type: Trattoria

via Rocco Pirri n. 12
+39 0931 835 786

Norma Bistrot

Type: Bistrot
Via Rocco Pirri n. 59
+39 348 193 9792

Anche gli Angeli

Type: Bistrot

via Arnado da Brescia n. 2
+39 0931 576 023

Fontana d’Ercole

Type: Trattoria

piazza XVI Maggio n. 11
+39 0931 837 772


Type: Pizzeria

via Tommaso Fazello n. 23
+39 328 927 7913


Taverna la Cialoma

Type: Trattoria

P.zza Regina Margherita
+39 0931 841 772

Cortile Arabo

Type: Restaurant

piazza Villadorata
+39 0931 841 678


Cortile Spirito Santo

Type: Restaurant

Via Salomone n. 21
+39 0931 181 5404

Caseificio Borderi

Type: Street Food

Via de Benedictis n. 6
+39 329 985 2500

Al Mazarì

Type: Restaurant

Via Giovanni Torres, 7/9
+39 0931 483690

La Lisca

Type: Restaurant

Via E. De Benedictis n. 25
+39 0931 623 944

I Rizzari

Type: Restaurant

Via Libertà n. 63
Brucoli ( Augusta )
+39 0931 982 709


Accursio *

Type: Restaurant

Via Grimaldi n. 41
+39 0932 941 689


Type: Restaurant

Via Grimaldi n. 55
+39 331 236 9404


Duomo **

Type: Restaurant

Via Cap. Bocchieri n. 31
+39 0932 651 265

I Banchi

Type: Bistrot

Via Orfanotrofio n. 39
+39 0932 655 000

Locanda Don Serafino *

Type: Restaurant

Via A. G. Ottaviano n. 13
+39 0932 248 778

marina di ragusa · scoglitti


Type: Bistrot

Lungomare A. Vespucci
Punta Secca (RG)
+39 0932 183 6006


Type: Trattoria

Piazza Cavour n. 12
Scoglitti ( Marina di Ragusa )
+39 0932 871 688

licata · taormina

La Madia **

Type: Restaurant

Corso F.  Re Capriata n. 22
+39 0922 771 443

St. George **

Type: Restaurant

Viale S. Pancrazio n. 46
Taormina (ME)
+39 0942 23 537

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