If you are looking for something just a bit different on your holidays to Sicily, we have just the thing you. |
In the south east of the island, almost cut off from the rest of Sicily by breath-taking mountains and canyons, are four magical towns that offer you what could well be the best Sicilian holiday experience you’ll ever have.
Each is unique, but all of them will delight and captivate you with their stunning architecture and enchanting character.
All of the towns are relative “newcomers”, as they were rebuilt after a massive earthquake in 1693. This means that each of them is a showcase for graceful Baroque architecture in their houses, streets and magnificent churches.
So, let’s start you off on your tour right now!
Noto – a Trip Back in Time
Noto, just 90 km from Catania, opens up a side of Sicily that you could easily miss on regular holidays to Sicily. Like the other towns on our tour, this too is a UNESCO World Heritage site. As you enter the town and begin to explore its streets, you’re taken back centuries to a Sicily that is hard to find today: bars with white-aproned waiters; small shops selling handmade local lace in hidden alleyways; small but beautiful gardens next to old palaces that may, from the outside, seem to be decaying, but offer a not-to-be missed opportunity to drink in the atmosphere and character of a bygone era. Be sure to check out the magnificent San Nicolò cathedral in the town’s centre and the ornate fresco decorating the inside of its cupola.
On to Scicli
Just an hour from Noto is the much smaller town of Scicli. This town is a favourite with artists such as Viennese Katia Bernhard, Franco Polizzi and many more, who come here not only because of the light, but also because it’s one of the few places where it’s still cheap enough (sort of) to live as an artist.
As you stroll through the narrow streets, take a close look at the buildings. Some may seem run-down and in need of a facelift, but look for the balconies: many are decorated with figures and sculptures, some of which are totally bizarre.
Visit the Palazzo Beneventano in the centre of town to see some amazing Baroque decorations, then enjoy a quiet, long lunch in a small café or restaurant. We say long because time seems to run at a different rate here.
Ragusa – A Hidden Treasure
Our third destination is Ragusa. Be prepared to have your breath taken away as you round the bend and see the town rising up like something from a magical fairytale. Everything here seems to be on a slant because the town is built on a hill. Small streets, winding passages and alleyways give this place an air of mystery that draws you in for hours of exploration.
If you’re up for a walk, climb up the steep Discesa Mocardo staircase to an area of caves, carved into the hillside, where the poor and sick once lived. After your exercise, go back down for a cup of espresso and a sweet cake – you deserve it.
Last Stop: Modica
South of Scicli is Modica. One of the most important cities in Renaissance Italy, Modica has a more “modern” feel to it. Take a tour of the Old City, precariously balanced on rocky precipices that can be reached by climbing up a staircase with breathtaking views. Climb the 250 steps to the San Giorgio Cathedral for a true carnival of Baroque architecture and art.
This town is a mixture of old, older and new – and yet it all seems to meld together into one amazing experience that will leave you enchanted and wanting to come back for more.
So, there we have it! Holidays in Sicily don’t come any better than this. Add in some of the lovely hotels in the area and you have the perfect recipe for the perfect holiday. Ciao bambino!
John Dixon is Managing Director of Prestige Holidays and visits Italy at least twice a year. He has been providing luxury holidays to Sicily as well as luxury holidays to many other destinations worldwide for over 30 years.
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