Unique Places in Sicilia

  • Small boats around Ganzirri lake
    Small boats around Ganzirri lake
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    Favignana
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Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Sicilia

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    Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro

    by mircaskirca Updated Jul 30, 2011

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    Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro (The Zingaro Nature Reserve) is a real paradise of nature. It's a protected area spread along a spectacular section of coast on the eastern side of the Golfo di Castellamare, where high wall rock, diving into the blue sea, alternate with 7 km string of coves with many stunning beaches. The altitude of its peaks goes from the 610 m of Pizzo Passo del Lupo to the 913 m of Mt. Speziale. From the sea level to the highest peaks you can meet different kinds of ecosystems, all extremely significant.

    There are two entrances to the reserve: San Vito Lo Capo (Ingresso Nord) and Scopello (Ingresso Sud). At the San Vito entrance (daily April to mid-Sept 7am-8pm; mid-Sept to March 8am-4pm; entrance 3€ - June 2008) you'll find a car park and hiking information. You can pick up a map of the various trails running through the reserve; Scopello is a ten-kilomethre walk south from the San Vito entrance.

    The reserve can be crossed only on foot, allowing enjoyment of one of the most pristine environments of the Mediterranean and sightings of the numerous animal species living here. Its wild coastline is a heaven for the rare Bonelli eagle, along with 40 other species of birds and 700 plant varieties, some unique to this stretch of coast. It can get painfully hot in July and August, and the path has little shade. Hikers should note that there are no shops, bars or restaurants in the park, so come prepared.

    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Beaches

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    Santa Margerita Belice

    by fgfi Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Santa Margherita Belice is where writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa spent his summer time. The Gattopardo (The Leopard) his novel, is one of my favourite book. Through the story of Prince Tancredi the writer recreates the fascinating atmosphere of Palermo, and Sicily in general, at the time of the princes and barons.
    Now you can there find ruines of the old church of Tomasi's palace and a literary park.

    Santa Margherita belice
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    • Architecture
    • Arts and Culture
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    Cimitero Vincolato in Palazzolo Acreide

    by picek Updated Nov 24, 2009

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    Palazzolo Acreide is town with long history in Siracusa province. It begins with settlements of Siculians and becomes more developed in Antiquity when Akrai was founded in 664 BC on a plateau over the river Anapo in Iblean mountains. It is now one of the Unesco sites.
    We didn't look for archeological site this time but we stoped to see this amazing cemetary at the end of town, not far from the main road.
    Large vaults of old and noble families are the artwork (see intircate stone carving and sculptures from Christian and antique stories) and fine architecture; many are formed into small chapels and are mostly placed by the wall. Graves of other citizens are simplier graves/tombs covered with stone yet carefully designed and maintained. Cemetary is fairly green and shaded with evergreens, especially with cypress trees which soften the contrast to predominant stone material for graves.
    The cemetery is great example of finest stone carving and grave making for which Italians are famous for.
    Cemetery is open from 8 am to 6 pm on normal working day.

    graves of nobles doors to chapel ordinary ones front face of ordinary graves
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    • Arts and Culture
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    Salita Lucio Marineo, Vizzini

    by picek Updated Oct 3, 2009

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    That colorful flight of steps is located in Vizzini city centre, right next to the remarkable Town Hall at centrally located Piazza Umberto I. Some source said they were completed in 1996; like those of Caltagirone the steps are decorated with majolica tiles. If you take a closer look these are mostly floral patterns, but also scenes from daily life, faces and architecture. It doesn't take hard climb to the top of the stairs where they enter narrow, stone paved street. From there you may continue walking upwards and later return back to the Piazza through some of another side streets - very pleasant ones with lots of history and fine details - and not at all crowded with traffic and people (in the afternoon - but if you wait for evening then it may be different). Back at Piazza you can also notice Verga's House, another nice piece of architecture.

    2nd photo: walking further from Salita Marineo - it's quite steep slope, nice views open soon
    On 3rd photo: street splits, one or another brings you back to the main square
    Photo 4 and 5: from the main square. Facade of baroque style Town Hall and civil buildings

    not just stairs slope side street town hall
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    Vizzini, small and charming

    by picek Written Oct 3, 2009

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    If we weren't missed the sign for Caltagirone we'd probably give that place a miss but I am glad we didn't - we landed with the car directly at its charming core, the Piazza Umberto I. Vizzini is town nestled on the ridge of Iblean Mountains in Catania province, very old place indeed. History tells it was first established in Greek times, when its modern form took place in Middle Ages around the castle. 'Thanks' to the earthquaqe in 1693 it was rebuilt in Baroque fashion and Baroque is easily recognized from religious buildings which are quite plenty in town. If time permits take a stroll through the town. We did it and enjoyed spirits of oldfashioned narrow streets paved with stone, with numerous balconies at facades, interesting doorways and reflections in window glass. On the return back to Piazza we had a cup of coffee - the atmosphere was laid back there; in the afternoon in siesta time men were sitting and talking outside coffee bars, not many of people around otherwise. Not even tourists.
    Ah, and I cannot forget those fine stairs next to Town Hall which were inspired by more famous ones in Caltagirone: they're just less of them and they actually lead you into the narrow street on the slope, well worth your climb for better view of the city.

    For those interested in literary history: Vizzini is birthplace of Giovanni Verga, the story teller and writer; the famous opera Cavalleria Rusticana was based upon his stories.

    Vizzini
    Related to:
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    Scala dei turchi. Amazing place.

    by Miguelzgz Written Feb 26, 2009

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    One of the most beautifull places we have been. Not crowed as it is not very advertised in Sicily. In fact we went there because a very gentle lady told us about it in a restaurant. When we reached that area, we almost desisted because it was not easy at all to find that village..finally we did it, and it was really, really worthy. Check this link http://sicilia.indettaglio.it/ita/comuni/ag/realmonte/turismo/turismo.html

    Our pictures doesn't show all the beauty of it.

    We decided to spend some extra money in the hotel there as it was our last nights. The hotes is fantastic, and it was not very, very expensive(it was low season, mid october). Hotel Villa Romana, Porto Empedocle. http://www.tripadvisor.es/Hotel_Review-g652023-d603573-Reviews-Villa_Romana_Hotel-Porto_Empedocle_Sicily.html

    Nice restaurant, and more restaurants in the village. Seafood and pasta.

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  • Don't always believe Guide books

    by Chucketti Written Oct 21, 2008

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    I think it's a bit too late for Carla to get any use of my experience since I am writing several weeks after her planned trip, but someone else might be interested.
    I've climbed Etna on October 16 starting from Catania on a public bus going to Rifugio Sapienza via Nicolosi. The bus leaves daily at 8-15 from the Catania train station and you must make it for the return trip by 4-30 PM.
    I did not have intention to climb to the top, actually - according to the travel guides you can look at excellent views during the Circumetnea train trip.
    It was a chain of accidental events plus my innate curiosity that ended me on the top.
    I met another tourist at a museum who said lets go tomorrow but did not show up.
    At the bus stop in Nicolosi the tourist office insisted that you are not allowed higher than a certain red line on their map without an alpine guide.
    At the cable car entrance looking at the prices I opted to 26 euro cable cabine only instead of 49 for the package including a jeep and a guide (frugality plus hate of organized excursions).
    The cable car brought me into an unmarked territory looking at the tourists piling into jeeps and covering me with dust. A sign on the road said: keep to the footpath if you don't want to eat dust. Where are the footpath? - I asked a guide guy - nowhere, he answered: buried in the sand.
    A young couple was also confused - so, divided by three, our confusion diminished and we set out over the black sand.
    We caught up with the jeeps after about 1-1.5 hrs at the top of the most recent crater of 2006. Which was very amazingly puffing white smoke from a warm soil (I have never seen a vulcano before). 3.5 hrs left till the bus return. what to do? Going for a walk. Going, going - Oh, what's that on the very distant top puffing through a greenish double-head surface? Some moving little points... People! They are there - why not me?
    It was not an easy hike - one step up in the deep flowing sand, two steps slipping down. And hard to breath (I don't know - maybe the rarified air? Or maybe my age? It was two days before my 61-st birthday).
    Finally, we are 5 people on the green sulphur-covered soil at the huuuuge main crater: that young couple, three French people amd me. Looking into the crater in amazement. No, I can't describe it - how unexpected was this impression, and how different from that lower crater, and from the glimpses of Etna from Taormina. Maybe because I am a poetic type (I actually wrote a poem about this adventure). But I don't want to apologize for my excitement - it was the absolute best experience from all the 2-weeks Sicily trip.
    I am sure that everyone can do it (If i did - see above) - and feel rewarded.
    Etna is not just another mountain often hiding behind the clouds - if you know, it expired Goethe (I feel like in a good company!).
    Good luck who wants to try.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Levanzo

    by mircaskirca Updated Jul 30, 2008

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    Levanzo is the smallest of the three main Egadi Islands. Those who stop over here must love the sea deeply, but they must love land as well. They must be fond of living the nature, of walking or riding a mule along paths winding steeply up to the mountain, they most love people.

    Outside, in the only road that crosses the land, at Cala Dogana, islanders and foreigners live together. They share their days and their daily things. They talk, joke and tell stories or they simply keep quiet. Those who love Levanzo, love the simplicity of things, that simplicity that is not superficiality, but on the contrary, is the essence of life. Levanzo is a special island, and those who really love it are special people and must know their love will be forever.

    The town faces the sea, the houses onto the street that is almost a terrace over the small port. Leaving the town for a pleasant walk westward and passing Punta Pesce you reach the Faraglione. Grotta del Genovese is the main attraction for most visitors, famed for its prehistoric cave paintings. You can enjoy the sun and the crystal-clear waters of the sea at Cala Minnola, a lovely rocky cove, where you can swim in peace in tranquility.

    Ferries, operated by Siremar (www.siremar.com) and hydrofoils, operated by Siremar and Ustica Lines (www.usticalines.it) depart several times daily from Trapani. Ferries depart from the Stazione Marittima, and hydrofils from further along Via A.Staiti. You can buy tickets at booths on the dockside. We took hydrofoil; one-way ticket was 9,80€ (June 2008).

    Levanzo Levanzo lovely tiled chapel Favignana agave in flower
    Related to:
    • Sailing and Boating
    • Beaches
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Scopello

    by mircaskirca Updated Jul 23, 2008

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    The small and quaint village of Scopello perches on a ridge a couple of hundred metres above the coastline. It consists of a little more than Piazza Fontana - a paved square and a fountain - and a couple of alleys running off it. On one side of the square sits the gateway and enclosed courtyard of the village's 18th century baglio (manor house), now the focus of local life.

    The courtyard buildings house a ceramics workshop, art studio, craft shop, a couple of bars and a pizzeria-restaurant. With the lights on it's a magical place at night, though in July and August you wish it would be a little more quiet. The rest of the year traditional village life is more about people: men playing cards at the tables, people gossiping around the fountain and neighbours helping out in each other's fields.

    There is nothing really to do except swim in one of the most idyllic coves of the island. Just below the village is the beach at tonnara (an old tuna fishing processing station), a popular place to enjoy a swim. From Scopello it's only a 2 km walk to the entrance to the Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro (Ingresso Sud).

    Piazza Fontana from the courtyard lovely church lovely church at night it's magical bar and pasticceria Scopello
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    San Vito Lo Capo

    by mircaskirca Updated Jul 23, 2008

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    The promontory of San Vito Lo Capo shares its name with the beach and the fishing village which developed around an old Saracen fortress, later turned into shrine dedicated to San Vito. San Vito Lo Capo is a charming coastal town in north-western Sicily, located in a valley between spectacular mountains. Extending below Monte Cofano, a high pointed limestone cliff visible from a distance (the mountain is popular with local climbers and is also home to numerous caves), the town is near the Zingaro Nature Reserve and the hamlet of Scopello, where some scenes of the movie Ocean's Twelve were filmed.

    San Vito Lo Capo, an almost unspoilt gem and the pride of the province of Trapani, is an ancient fishing town with a strongly Arabic flavour which is well worth exploring. Here lights, perfumes and flavours mingle to produce a landscape with typically Mediterranean colours and waters: low white houses clad in bougainvillea and a kilometre-long beach of pure white sand and turquoise blue sea. Via Savoia with its shops and restaurants is the focus of the evening promenades, and there is also a little square with a fortress like Chiesa di San Vito.

    The town is renowned for the Couscous Festival, which is held at the end of September to celebrate the foodstuff originally brought to Sicily by the Arabs, but now a traditional Sicilian food with native Sicilian recipes. For one week couscous is prepared by cooks from all over the world while concerts, workshops, cookery lessons and exhibitions of local produce are organized around the couscous theme. This mix of traditions and experimentation is becoming an ever growing success.

    Arabic flavour to the architecture fortress like Chiesa di San Vito shadow of a lovely street lamp charming shop with a local produce picturesque doorway
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    Capo D'Orlando - uninvaded by tourists

    by PeterWilliamson Written Jul 19, 2008

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    It is easy to get around by train in Sicily, but check the timetables. Your idea of Trapani is a good one. Ferry service goes to the 3 Egadi islands. (not sure about public transport). A better and easier alternative might be Taormina. Train fron Palermo Airport (Falcone - Borsellini) to Palermo and then take the Palermo Messina line. If you want somewhere closer on the same line, try Cefalu (great Beach and good bars nearby) For somewhere off the tourist track and with beautiful beaches (cheaper) well before Taormina try Capo D' Orlando - not invaded by tourists but a lot to offer. Taormina and Cefalu have lots of tourists. My pick Capo D'Orlando - you will love it !

    Coastal drive and great Beaches Capo D'Orlando Great Granite and hospitality-Giulio's Meet Tanya View of Eolian Islands reached from Capo d
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    • Food and Dining
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    Scala dei Turchi

    by mircaskirca Updated Jul 19, 2008

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    The landscape here is among the most stunning with the waters of a crystalline sea on one side and white cliffs on the other. A unique rock formation known as the Scala dei Turchi (Turkish Steps) is a wonderful natural amphitheatre created by erosion, overlooking the sea along the coast of Realmonte in the province of Agrigento. It is made up of marl, a sedimentary rock consisting of limestone and clay, with a characteristic pure white colour. Scala dei Turchi stands between two sand beaches and access is from the coast. When you reach the top of the cliff, you bill be rewarded with the splendid view of Agrigento coast.

    There is a story that long ago a young couple, Rosa and Peppe, from the village of Realmonte loved each other deeply, but their respective families were opposed to their relationship. Realizing that they could not live apart, the tragic lovers decided to throw themselves from the top of Capo di Monte Rossello. Their bodies which were never found rose from the waters, transformed into two rocks that are joined together forever.

    Scala dei Turchi became a tourist attraction for both, the singularity of the cliff, white and peculiar forms, and also because of the popularity gained by Commissioner Montalbano, the main character of a successful series of novels and short stories published by Sicilian writer Andrea Camilleri, where such places are mentioned.

    more pics in the Travelogue

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    So many little places to discover

    by lichinga Written Aug 17, 2006

    If you will be so patient as to tune yourself in the right mood, then your eyes will be able to see beyond the veil of official tours, well-known monuments and well-kept churches.... and you will enter the world of real Sicily. So many places that are not evident, though completely reachable.

    Salina island as seen from Calabria

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    Etna Nord - Piano Provenzana

    by ralfar Updated Apr 27, 2006

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    as you leave Linguaglossa, you pass some solitary houses,farms, a restaurant, and finally the two chalets, Ragabo and Brunek Rifugii ( 3 hour solid uphill walk) on a good winding road. . from there you can organise your treks in fantastic serroundings. the ancient and recent lava flows cut through the forests mercilessly and you find tracks running into walls of lava!! you can walk up to Piano provenzana approx 3/4 km up to the new ski resorts. from then on it is the final trek up to the summit, the last 1000 meters. fantastic and harder now!! the views are extraordinary, to say the least. special attention to the weather at this altitude...as well as a decent knowledge of trekking in woods, altitude change etc.

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    Nebrodi Park

    by ralfar Written Apr 27, 2006

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    The Nebrodi Park is one of the vastest in Italy. It is a protected park where one can trek for days on end, without unneccessary dangers ( and abit of common sense). i was there in december, and it was fantastic for walking ( weather wasnt that good). the tracks are clear, unless you venture off them, which becomes tricky. i did not see many views becuae of the bad weather, but you may be luckier and see alot of Sicily, Etna opposite, the Eolian Islands!! thats alot.

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Sicilia Hotels

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