Sicily is an island where you can get lost in art cities, archaeological sites, amazing landscapes. And then, you can go from the peaks of Etna covered with snow to the blue waves of the sea, on the coast from which you can see some legendary archipelagos. You can enjoy the most hidden towns; they are small gems located in these unique corners of the world. Welcome to the villages in Sicily, so secret that you will want to reveal them to everyone!
Our journey starts from the south of Sicily, from the provinces of Ragusa and Syracuse, and in particular from Scicli and Marzamemi. Let’s pack…gooo!
Scicli, the land of Baroque
Here is the Baroque queen, Elio Vittorini describes it as:
«The city of Scicli stands at the intersection of three valleys, with houses on all sides on the cliffs, a large square straddling a stream, and ancient ecclesiastical buildings that crown in several points, like baroque acropolises, the semicircle of the altitudes…».
This territory is varied, the sandy coast is characterized by the Mediterranean scrub, then the almond and olive trees decorate the hinterland. People who want to add a pinch of adrenaline to their holiday will love canyons and gorges…you can feel like in Colorado!
The monuments you have to put into your bucket list include both civil and religious architecture, even if the past of this city has a strong medieval identity. In the 14th century there were two castles: the so-called Castellaccio – nowadays we can see only a few remains on the top of San Matteo hill – and Castello dei Tre Cantoni, today there are no more than a bunch of ruins.
Among the churches, the Church of San Bartolomeo Apostolo (15th century) stands out. It is a Baroque-Rococo ‘casket’ that hosts a cycle of stuccoes ranging from the 18th to the 19th century. Another remarkable church is the one dedicated to Santa Maria La Nova. It has Byzantine origins, and its history has been long and troubled. Note the neoclassical interior and the quadrangular choir signed by Giuseppe Venanzio Marvuglia.
Villages in Sicily: listen to this tidbit
While you are visiting Scicli, spend a few minutes at Palazzo Beneventano, located between the ancient, fortified citadel at the top of the hill, and the modern eighteenth-century city. It is enough to know that the art historian Sir Anthony Blunt had the audacity to call it ‘the most beautiful Baroque palace in Sicily’
with a pale yellow-gold color that in the sun acquires an indescribable opulence.
So, it is not a coincidence to find it on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Marzamemi, let’s jump into a painting
Among the villages in Sicily, one of the most colorful and lively is Marzamemi. It is a district of the municipality of Pachino and the root of its name is uncertain. According to the linguist Corrado Avolio, the toponym derives from the Arabic marsà al-ḥamāma, that means ‘bay of turtledoves’, due to the conspicuous presence of these birds during the spring. It is a hypothesis but what matters is the beauty offered by this place. It has seduced directors such as Gabriele Salvatores who shot his film ‘South’ here in 1993, this village has also been the set of famous films such as ‘The Star Maker’ and famous TV series like ‘Inspector Montalbano’.
Tourists fall in love with the beach in Spinazza district, the soul of Marzamemi is fishing and visitors can breathe this tradition in every street. From the memory of the ancient tuna fishery to the fishermen’s boats, the seafaring culture is also clear in the typical products that delight the palate: red tuna bottarga, dried Pachino tomatoes, cantaloupe melon and then a sip of Nero d’Avola wine to toast to life.