A variety of fascinating destinations,
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Island of thousands of faces and tales, land of the giants and Cyclops, volcanic source and refuge of Odysseus, the Earth myths of heroes and travelers. Sicily is a big triangle , set in the middle of the Mediterranean like a big wild coral. This island counts as one of the most culturated regions of the world . Visible traces of the past: Phoenicians , Carthaginians , Greeks, Romans, Arabs , Normans, French, Spanish.
Packed with Unesco World Heritage sites, sandy Mediterranean beaches and hills striped with dry stone walls and dotted with carob, almond and olive trees, the southeastern corner of Sicily has a character all of its own.
Despite the presence of several glorious cities - Ragusa, Modica, Scicli and Noto, each of which has a distinct atmosphere, festivals and mouth-watering food and wine - the region remains little visited outside August.
That looks set to change as a new airport in Comiso opens up the region to more visitors from Europe and elsewhere. Twice-weekly Ryanair flights began in september 2013 from London. Flights from Brussels and Rome also began recently, and seasonal charters are likely to follow.
Comiso airport lies on the outskirts of the pleasant little town of the same name, which is just a 20 minute drive from the beach resort of Scoglitti. So now is the time to hop on a flight to southeastern Sicily - a place to wander and wonder, relax, eat, drink and enjoy the friendliness of the local people.
There are several itineries for the southeastern of Sicily. We suggest you the most important and worth to be visited.
BAROQUE - ROUTE:
We suggest to visit RAGUSA and RAGUSA IBLA, SCICLI, MODICA, NOTO, COMISO, VITTORIA, CALTAGIRONE and Syracuse
MONTALBANO - ROUTE:
Inside the Baroque town hall of Scicli you can sit at the desk of the fictional italian detective, eponymous hero of the popular Montalbano TV series (BBC4 in the UK) which is shot across this region. Detective Salvo Montalbano investigates in the (fictiv) Sicilian coastal town Vigàta. The figure of the quirky investigator comes from the pen of Sicilian writer Andrea Camilleri, who in the age of 70 achieved with the Montalbano mysteries the literary breakthrough, this far beyond the borders of Italy. Therefore, you can also visit the sites of the film set: PUNTA SECCA, DONNAFUGATA, IBLA, MODICA and SCICLI
WINE AND FOOD - ROUTE:
we will visit VITTORIA, COMISO, CHIARAMONTE, RAGUSA and MODICA
ARCHAEOLOGICAL - ROUTE:
the musts are KAMARINA, COMISO, KAUKANA, AGRIGENTO, SIRACUSA and PIAZZA ARMERINA
Of course other monuments/sites can be involved in your tour, these are just some suggestions. We can combine your tour according to your wishes and preferences.
TOP 10 things to see and do
Ragusa and Ragusa Ibla
A maze of glowing limestone streets of Baroque palazzi and churches clings to the hillside. Ibla has 14 Unesco World Heritage buildings in an area of less than one square kilometre. At the center of this compact city is the delightful, sloping, palm-adorned Piazza Duomo, dominated by the Cathedral of St George. Its curved, columned, luminous facade is one of the most attractive in the region. For a great view climb the steps towards Upper Ragusa (the modern town) to the terrace of the Church of Santa Maria delle Scale and look back at the tiled rooftops, campanile, domes and facades of Ibla lit by the evening sun.
Syracuse and Ortigia
The heart of ancient Syracuse, recently restored and revived, Ortigia is a bridge-linked little island off the tip of the modern city. Wander the narrow, often black-paved streets that offer up gems at every turn. In contrast to the relative architectural homogeneity of the Ragusa area, here you'll find everything from the great Greek Temple of Apollo to Byzantine, Norman, Medieval, Baroque and Neoclassical palazzi, courtyards and churches. to one side is the large protected harbour that made Syracuse one of the greatest trading centres in the world. Today Ortigia has an understated liveliness, with intimate wine bars and fresh fish restaurants.
The Duomo, Syracuse
This extraordinary cathedral - ancient Greek columns (5th century BC) hold up Islamic crenelations (10th century) behind a Sicilian Baroque facade (18th century) - has been a place of worship in continuous use for some 2500 years.
Neapolis Archaeological Park
A park of some of the most famous monuments of the word. Inside the Neapolis Archaeological Park (from the greek "new city"), there are most of the classical monuments of the Greek and Roman Syracuse. It was built using the funds of the Fund for the South, between the 1952 and the 1955, with the aim of gathering inside a unique area all the monuments of the ancient neighborhood.
Just in the entrance of the park there is the Basilica of St. Nicolò Cordari (eleventh century BC), which now houses a tourist office. The church was built on a Roman pool of a rectangular shape, visible only from the outside. In Roman era it was just used as a water tank, then it turned into a hypogeic church, it has some grotto, and in one of them it was once possible to see the paintings, no longer distinguishable. In all probability they were the tombs of Christian martyrs. In the Norman period, the church was abandoned and the hypogean basilica was built above it.
Along the road that leads to the Roman Amphitheatre (II-IV century BC), there are arranged stone sarcophagi, found in the necropolis of Syracuse and Megara Iblea. It is located almost in front of the basilica and represents one of the most representative buildings of the early Roman Empire. Continuing our journey, we meet the Altar of Hieron II (III century BC), which is the third largest monumental work that has come to us of the ancient district of Neapolis.
Later, on the right, near the Greek Theatre (fifth century BC), which is the largest theater in Sicily and one of the largest of the entire greek world. In this area there are the remains of the great Altar of Hieron II (III century BC) and the famous Latomie (from litos = stone and temnos = cut, and stone quarries), including Latomia of Paradise where we find the mythical cave called Caravaggio Ear of Dionysius and the evocative Rope Makers Cave.
Outside the fence of the Archaeological Park, further south, at the beginning of the so-called Via Panoramica that leads to the top of the hill Temenite, there is a theater carved into the rock Archaic cavea with straight rather than curved, called "Theatre Linear".
This region came to Christianity early and is dotted with catacombs. Syracuse has a vast complex (3rd to 6th century) beneath the little ruined church of San Giovanni. A 30- to 45-minute tour (also in English) takes you through a grid of underground streets and domed caverns (once Ancient Greek water cisterns) lined with rock-cut tombs, some arched and once colourfully painted.
The Main Street
The 1km Corso Vittorio Emanuele leads right through the majestic heart of historic Noto, moving from shady public gardens through the monumental 19th century arch, Porta Reale, to the imperious Duomo amid Baroque and Neoclassical palazzi. Climb the bell tower of the church of the Jesuit College for an overview before admiring the long college facade (now home to shops and cafes) leading to the delightful Piazza XVI Maggio. Here the Neoclassical theatre looks up at the beautiful golden Baroque facade of the Church of San Domenico.
Modica's competing cathedrals
During the rebuild of the region after the devastating earthquake in 1693, Modica Alta (upper town) and Bassa (lower town) competed in the creation of their new cathedrals, and they continue to compete today. Both are now Unesco World Heritage sites. St George's stands gloriously on the hillside showing off a Baroque facade modelled on St George's in Ibla, its interior rich in silverwork and paintings. Walk down flower-adorned steps and narrow alleys to St Peter's, which won the race to be constructed first and is of an earlier Baroque design. St Peter's sits on Modica's broad main street (a river until it was covered in 1902), where the city's citizens gather of an evening to promenade, chat, drink and eat.
Chocolate arrived in Modica from South America via Spain in the 16th century. The method of making it has changed little since. Taste it, along with other local delicacies, at the city's wood-pannelled chocolate shop, run by the same family for six generations.
Scicli is the smallest and most chilled of the region's four main Baroque cities. In a valley close to the coast, its main street is a Unesco World Heritage site and its unobtrusive Palazzo Beneventano was descibed by British art hitorian (and spy) anthony Blunt as "Sicily's most beautiful baroque palace"; it certainly has some of the most bizarre gargoyles. Scicli is also home to the Scicli Group of contemporary artists and there are several interesting little galleries showing their work.
The small county
From the octagonal tower castle of Naselli family, where you can see the beautiful 16th century Serliana. San Biagio church with Pietro Novelli canvas of Santa Teresa, the Basilica of St. M. delle Stelle with beautiful frescoes on the wooden ceiling, Piazza delle Erbe, with his Fishmarket from the nineteenth century, today home to the Bufalino Foundation, a famous poet and writer from Comiso. It continues with the church of the "Madonna of the announcement," whose reconstruction was assigned to the famous architect Vaccarini. In the church you can admire valuable stuccoes and a crucifix which belongs to the Minorite "Fra 'Umile da Petralia". Finally, the Church of St. Francis or the "Immaculate Conception", a National Monument, the grave of Baldassarre Naselli built by Antonio Gagini.
The last "Gattopardo"
The Neo-Gothic castle of Donnafugata, is part of the typical proof of the eclecticism of the nineteenth century. The history of the castle is connected to the life of one of the last "Gattopardi" of Sicily, Baron Corrado Arezzo. He transformed the summer residence into the castle that can be visited and admired today. The magical atmosphere set us in the history which describes us Tomasi di Lampedusa in his "Gattopardo". The main floor with a sequence of spaces, such as the music room, the billiard room, the coat of arms rooms and the park with the typical games of that era fascinate us and let us relive the typical romanticsm of that times
Visit the archeological site and antiquarium, which is set in a 19th century winery. The separation of the individual halls allows to discover the area's history, from its founding to the final destruction by the Romans. A gazebo is dedicated to underwater archeology. Finds of the sea of different eras are exhibited here
Santa Croce Camerina
The archaeological site dating from the 3rd century BC, when Kaukana was used by the Romans as a harbour. You can see the rests of some houses of that times and in the center of an ancient Byzantine church you can admire the mosaics.
The Valley of the Temples
The Valley includes remains of seven temples, all in Doric style. The ascription of the names, apart from that of the Olympeion, are a mere tradition established in Renaissance times. The temples are:
Temple of Juno
built in the 5th century BC and burnt in 406 BC by the Carthaginians. It was usually used for the celebration of weddings.
Temple of Concordia
whose name comes from a Latin inscription found nearby, and which was also built in the 5th century BC. Turned into a church in the 6th century AD, it is now one of the best preserved in the Valley.
Temple of Heracles
who was one of the most venerated deities in the ancient Akragas. It is the most ancient in the Valley: destroyed by an earthquake, it consists today of only eight columns.
Temple of Zeus Olympic
built in 480 BC to celebrate the city-state's victory over Carthage. It is characterized by the use of large scale atlases.
Temple of Castor and Pollux
Despite its remains including only four columns, it is now the symbol of modern Agrigento.
Temple of Vulcan
also dating from the 5th century BC. It is thought to have been one of the most imposing constructions in the valley; it is now however one of the most eroded.
Temple of Asclepius
located far from the ancient town's walls; it was the goal of pilgrims seeking cures for illness.
The Valley is also home to the so-called Tomb of Theron, a large tuff monument of pyramidal shape; scholars suppose it was built to commemorate the Romans killed in the Second Punic War
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