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Syracuse Sicily surroundings , Siracusa , province

Syracuse Sicily surroundings , Siracusa , Syracuse province, Noto , Palazzolo , Pantalica , Marzamemi , Avola Antica , Cava Grande , Marzamemi , Vendicari , Trekkimg , Iblei mountain , Wine  road , Portopalo, Avola , Rosolini , Tellaro Roman Villa , Ancient Noto , Cathedral of Buscemi , Cathedral of Cassaro , Cathedral of Ferla , Buccheri , Megara Hyblaia , Leontinoi , Brucoli castle , Augusta , Thapsos

The Necropolis of Pantalica is a collection of cemeteries with around 4000 rock-cut chamber tombs dating from the 7th to the 13th centuries BC. They extend around the flanks of a large promontory located at the junction of the Anapo river with its tributary, the Calcinara, about 23 kilometres northwest of Syracuse. Together with the city of Syracuse, Pantalica was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.




1,300 BC

Access: free. Opening hours: April-September 7-19, October March 8-17. Equipment needed: hiking or gym shoes , water and an hat in summer. Mobile network: no. Total area: 3,712 hectares. Municipalities: Ferla, Cassaro, Buscemi, Palazzolo Acreide Points of interest: Bat Cave, Nordic necropolis, Byzantine village Cavetta, Anaktoron, northwest necropolis, Filliporto necropolis, small museum, Anapo River, Calcinara River, Cavagrande River
Sicily itineraries
Sicily itineraries
The Reserve, founded in July 1997, is located in the area of the “Ibleo plateau”, which characterizes much of southeastern Sicily. The territory of the reserve constitutes a remarkable complex of great interest in terms of geomorphology, nature, landscape, history, archaeology and ethnoanthropology. What to see in Syracuse Pantalica Tomb-Multicelle Graves

The pantalica site in southeastern Sicily is best known for its vast cemeteries of chambered tombs carved into the rock dating back to the 13th and 7th centuries BC. An estimated 5000 graves are distributed around the flanks of a large headland located at the junction of the Anapo River with its tributary, the Calcinara. In addition to its archaeological interest is an important nature reserve (Pantalic Oriented Nature Reserve) with a variety of local flora and fauna and natural caves (especially the Cave of the Bats). Various routes facilitate visitor access, including a disused railway line (dismantled in 1956) along the Anapo valley floor. You can access the headland directly with a car from Ferla, or by walking along the old mule track from the parking lot on the road from Sortino and crossing the Calcinara stream. In the 13th century BC some coastal settlements were abandoned probably due to the arrival of the Siculi on the island and the beginning of more unstable conditions, Pantalica offered a natural defense. Pantalica evidently flourished for about 600 years, from about 1250 to 650 BC. The current name of the site probably dates back to the early Middle Ages or the Arab period. The ancient name of the site is uncertain, but it is associated by some archaeologists with Hybla, after a siculo king named Hyblon,which is mentioned by Thucydides in connection with the foundation of the Greek colony of Megara Hyblaea in 728 BC.

What to see in Syracuse Anaktoron Anaktoron, A.

For many centuries before the Greek colonization Pantalica was undoubtedly one of the main sites of eastern Sicily dominating the surrounding territory including subsidiary settlements. Around 650 BC, however, it seems to have been a victim of the expansion of the city of Syracuse, which at that time formed an outpost at Akrai (Palazzolo Acreide). However, it was still occupied during classical antiquity, since artifacts from the IV-III bc (Hellenistic period) are attested, as well as during the late ancient or Byzantine periods. After the 12th century it was probably largely deserted and obscured by Sortino. The remains visible today consist mainly of numerous prehistoric burial chambers carved into the limestone rock, sometimes equipped with a porch or a short entrance hallway in front of the burial chamber, originally sealed with stones or a slabs. There are also some large houses carved into the rock with uncertain dates (often called Byzantine, but perhaps of earlier origins). The so-called Anaktoron or princely palace, located near the top of the hill, is also controversial. The thought of some archaeologists was originally a late Bronze Age building inspired by bronze (Mycenaean) buildings, it was more certainly occupied in the Byzantine period. The remains of a large defensive moat cut into limestone are clearly visible at Filiporto (on the western side of the headland, closer to Ferla). This probably dates back to the 4th century BC. and represents a defensive work of Greek military design, probably in line with the policy of Dionysius of Syracuse, designed to protect allied sites inland. What to see in Syracuse Pantalica VaseFuneral pot

There are also three small medieval chapels carved into the rock popularly called The Cave of the Crucifix (near the Northern Cemetery), The Cave of St. Nicolicchio (on the south side) and St. Micidario’s Cave (in Filiporto), which retain very faint traces of frescoes and attest the presence of small monastic communities. The site was mainly excavated between 1895 and 1910 by the distinguished Italian archaeologist Paolo Orsi, although most of the tombs had already been reddened or emptied long before his time. The finds excavated by Orsi are on display in the Archaeological Museum of Syracuse. They include the characteristic burnian terracotta pots and metal objects, including weapons (small knives and daggers) and clothing items, such as bronze fibula (pins) and rings, which were placed with the deceased in the graves. Most of the graves contained between 1 and 7 individuals of all ages and sexes. Many graves have evidently been reopened periodically to admit other burials. The average lifespan of human life at that time was probably around 30 years. The size of the prehistoric population is difficult to estimate from the available data, but it could easily have been 1000 or more people. Pantalica has five cemeteries spread over a large area: What to see in Syracuse trails-pantalica The necropolis of Filiporto consists of almost 1000 tombs, located on the southwestern side of the headland (accessible from Ferla road side). In the same area are the remains of the defensive rock ditch of later era (probably 4th century BC) that crosses the headland at the narrowest point. The northwestern necropolis is one of the oldest (12th -11th century BC) and is crossed by the paved road from Ferla. The cavetta necropolis has tombs and houses carved into the rock of prehistory and later periods and can be seen from the street and designated observation platforms. The north necropolis is a spectacular cemetery of about 1000 graves that cover the very steep slopes overlooking the Calcinara River best seen from the track coming from Sortino and the observation platforms near the trail. Remains of large mansions carved into the rock lie on the gentler slopes to the east. The southern necropolis stretches along the Anapo River for over 1 kilometre and is easily visible from the roadway at the bottom of the valley (a path takes you down from the Anaktoron). The old railway station, restored, has information about the local fauna and flora. The so-called Anaktoron (a princely miceneo palace) at the top of the hill is a multi-room building of large blocks with various rectangular rooms excavated in the 19th century by Paolo Orsi. Its origins are obscure (see above) but were certainly used in the Byzantine period as evidenced by tiles and pottery. How to get there by car: From Syracuse and Catania (A18 motorway) take the Sortino exit. From Ragusa SS194 drive to Giarratana – Buccheri – Sortino (Main Access) or continue towards Giarratana Palazzolo, Cassaro Ferla (Secondary Access) Walking route Pantalica Total (round trip) 9 km divided into different routes.

The Anapo River Valley
What to see in Syracuse Anapo Valley

Route on foot Anapo Valley 13 km road trip – 13 km Return. Difficulty: easy.

Sicily itineraries
Sicily itineraries
Next to Pantalica flows the Anapo River – which is the main among the many perennial waterways in the Iblei and one of the longest in Sicily – starts from Mount Lauro and, flowing east, flows into the great port of Syracuse. Due to its geo-morphological characteristics and general orientation, the Anapo valley is usually divided into three sections. The first, between Mount Lauro and Palazzolo Acreide, extends with a vast plateau; in the second begins to take on the characteristic shape of the canyon (ravine), becoming narrow and with very steep winding walls with large meanders lush in vegetation; In the third stretch to the southeast from the slopes of Mount Climiti to the sea, the valley becomes large and arched.


Starting from Syracuse, a car tour will take you through the Medieval villages of the Iblei Mountains, small towns that can be reached through paths between the Iblei valleys. Below are the main architectural works to be seen during short stops indicated in the route.

Cassaro, Church of St. Anthony Abbot 1760


Built between 1693 and 1760 at the behest of citizens who participated through large cash donations. The sides of the staircase are embellished with original geometric decorations. The baroque facade well slender with three bells was designed by Domenico Blamato from Floridia . In the original design there was a loggia hosting a bell that was never put in place. The entrance portal is bordered by two beautiful columns adorned with superb decorations. On the sides of the portal are on display two niches that contain the statues of St. Anthony Abbot and Our Lady with the Child.


Ferla, Basilica of St. Sebastian 1481 / 1741


Reconstructed after the earthquake of 1693 on an existing church of 1400 on the design of the architect and sculptor Michelangelo Di Giacomo da Buccheri, completed in 1741 in ibleo Baroque style. After the redevelopment, the church was more impressive than the previous one to the point of competing for the title of Mother Church.






Buccheri, St Mary Magdalene Church.


Reconstructed in 1750 with a facade by the Buccherese architect Michelangelo Di Giacomo preserves inside the marble statue of the Magdalene carved in 1508 by Antonello Gagini, a 16th century wooden crucifix placed in the central altar, in the left aisle a canvas from 17th century depicting St. Michael and a painting depicting St. Ambrose, patron of the country,from 18th century.




Buscemi, St. Anthony Church from Padua


Defined as a particular example in the Sicilian Baroque landscape for the movement given to the facade. The interior, which probably follows the architectural structure of the seventeenth century, houses an eighteenth-century wooden statue of  Our Lady of Sorrows of great plastic intensity, and some tombs of the Requesenz family’s memebers . This church was in fact the votive church of the Requisenz family.


Palazzolo, Basilica of St. Paul


The Church of St. Paul, patron saint of Palazzolo Acreide, rebuilt in the 18th century thanks to charity is truly spectacular. It has a stunning three-floors tower baroque facade with high columns and arches ending with the elegant bell tower at the top. The three aisles stretch between masterpieces of religious art, be they sculptures, paintings or architectural details, such as those that emphasize the originality of the fourth altar on the left that seems to defy every law of physics. The attention, however, is immediately transmitted to the altar, framed by two large spiral columns: in the center, behind the large canvas of Crestadoro depicting the Conversion of St. Paul, there is the statue of the saint wielding a sword, carved on wood , Vincenzo Lorefice 1567.


Canicattini Bagni , Alfano Bridge


The bridge of St. Alfano built in 1796 connects Canicattini Bagni to the feud of St. Alfano. The two statues on the sides of the large arch carry a bread and a wicker wine bottle. Legend has it that the two statues represent two characters named Currarinu and Calamaru two campmen divided by deep hatred and rivalry, they one day met on the bridge to challenge themselves. The duel led them to kill each other.




Already renamed“The Capital of Baroque“, it could not remain off the list of beauties UNESCO World Heritage Site: in 2002 it enters with great right!
Noto is one of the finest jewels of the Sicilian baroque.
You can admire its splendour even before you reach it, as it is a perched village on a plateau overlooking the Asinaro valley.
Important center of ancient Sicilian population(Siculi), Roman, Byzantine and then Arab center, it was totally destroyed by the tragic earthquake of 1693.
However, this natural disaster was a key element in the baroque reconstruction of the actual
urban architecture, so that today it is a magnificent city of art.
They were called the brightest artists of the time, from all over Sicily, who designed it
like the scenography of a movie, studying the perspectives to make it perfect.
There are many attractions that this town offers, starting with the Royal Gate that outlines its elegant entrance. An arch of triumph dating back to the 1800s, designed and built on the occasion of the visit of the King of the Two Sicilies, Ferdinand II.
Along the way in, you will arrive in the town hall square surrounded by four buildings:
the municipal palace, the church of the Holy Saviour (1791-1801), the bishop’s palace and
the beautiful cathedral of San Nicolò (1771), which dominates from the top of a scenic staircase.In the XVI Maggio square, the church of St. Dominic (1727) stands with a curved facade,
and the Dominican convent with a beautiful bugged portal. In the church of the Crucifix is preserved
the statue of Our Lady of the Snow carved by sculptor Francesco Laurana in 1471.
To be emphasized the traditional “flowered” of Noto, a great festival in which, only once a year (the
third Sunday of May) the city becomes a riot of floral arrangements that color and perfume intensely the beautiful streets of this wonderful town.
The Arch of Triumph
The triumphal arch, along the main artery, marks the beginning of the city. Topped by three symbolic sculptures – a tower with battlements (power), a dog (loyalty) and a pelican (sacrifice) – the monument was erected during a visit to Noto of Ferdinand II of Bourbon, which inaugurated it in 1838.
St. Francis Church at the Immaculate
The Church of St. Francis at the Immaculate stands on top of an imposing staircase . It was built, along with the convent attached, in 1704-1745. The church has only one nave, according to Franciscan custom. All white, the walls are decorated with rococo-style stucco.
St Dominic’s Church
A beautiful Baroque church was built between 1703 and 1727 under the direction of the architect Rosario Gagliardi, it is actually one of the best preserved Baroque works in the city.
The Cathedral
What-see-to-Noto-CathedralThe cathedral, which sits on top of a monumental staircase, was started a few months after the earthquake, but was not completed until 1770. The facade, devoid of ornaments and extravagances, incorporates baroque motifs and classic elements. The three naves of the church are divided by high pillars with double lesene. In the chapel, at the back of the right aisle, is preserved the Silver Ark of the patron saint of the city, San Corrado.
Ducezio Palace
In front of the cathedral is Palazzo Ducezio which houses the town hall. Designed by architect Sinatra, the palace, raised from the square where it stands, was built in 1746-1830 with a single floor. A hundred years ago a second floor overlapped. Interesting, inside, the representation room full of golds and stucco.
Nicolaci Palace of Villadorata
The Palazzo Villadorata, overlooking Via Nicolaci, a narrow side street, with a large facade enlivened by balconies protruding in wrought iron supported by all sorts of ledges, with human and animal figures in the midst of volute and Arabesque, the most extreme of The Noto Baroque. Built in 1731, the palace, which for a long time was the residence of the princes of Villadorata, was recently purchased largely by the city council. In it there are ninety rooms, and in the ceilings there are frescoes of the 18th century. Interesting the “Room of Mirrors”
The Church of Montevergine
In the end the road is closed by the church of Montevergine, attributed to the architect Sinatra. Outside it is concave in shape, closed between two side towers; inside there is a single aisle, along which there are Corinthian columns.
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The site was inhabited by the 12th century BC but its history is known from the settlement of the Corinthians of Syracuse in 664 BC when Akrai was founded.

The city grew in beauty and wealth so much that it beat coin between 210 and 125 BC. When the Romans arrived the city became salaried civitas, a fixed tribute was paid to Rome.

Akrai was destroyed by the Arab army around 827 A.D. and all traces of the ancient city were lost for centuries. The population built a new city, first mentioned in 1145 by the geographer Edrisi who called it Balansùl or Palatiolum.

He arose on a small rocky outcrop under the first site on behalf of the Normans around the castle. The city became rich again when religious orders arrived there in the sixteenth century. The current structure of the city is the result of the Baroque reconstruction after the earthquake of 1693. Today Palazzolo Acreide is a city full of folklore, religious festivals and lively cultural life, especially in the summer.

St Paul’s Church


The Church of St. Paul, patron saint of Palazzolo Acreide, rebuilt in the 18th century thanks to charity is truly spectacular. It has a stunning three-floors tower baroque facade with high columns and arches ending with the elegant bell tower at the top. The three aisles stretch between masterpieces of religious art, be they sculptures, paintings or architectural details, such as those that emphasize the originality of the fourth altar on the left that seems to defy every law of physics.

The attention, however, is immediately transmitted to the altar, framed by two large spiral columns: in the center, behind the large canvas of Crestadoro depicting the Conversion of St. Paul, there is the statue of the saint wielding a sword, carved on wood , Vincenzo Lorefice 1567.

Mother Church


The main church dedicated to St. Nicholas, built on a pre-existing Norman church, has a square and simple facade. It preserves many works of art from the altars: almost all of them are made of polychrome marble and adorned with precious pillars and carvings. Paintings by Olivio Sozzi, such as the one depicting the Souls of Purgatory, are flanked by high-value works such as the Martyr of St. Hippolytus that many scholars attribute to Mario Minniti, or the beautiful monumental altar where you can admire the painting St. Nicholas from Myra by Paolo Tanasi. Also notable are the statue of Christ at the Colonna, between the main altar and the chapel on the left, and the painted cross of the 16th century.

St Sebastian Church

What-see-to-Palazzolo-Acreide-Church S Sebastiano

The Church of St. Sebastian stands on a monumental staircase that connects the entrance to the church with the square in front that was lowered during the post-earthquake reconstruction; it was completed in 1768. Its facade has the characteristic shape of a tower with the central part that rises and ends with a bell tower. The interior is divided into three aisles and contains many valuable works of art including a S. Margherita di Cortona attributed by some to Vito D’Anna, by others to Olivio Sozzi.

The Church of the Annunciation


The Church of the Annunciation has a beautiful facade that retains in part the spirit of the time in which it was built between the 13th and 14th centuries. In 1474 Antonello da Messina painted The Annunciation for this church, now preserved at the Bellomo Museum in Syracuse. The facade, which was rebuilt in the 18th century, has beautiful spiral columns and a traberation decorated with carved fruit festoons. Inside a beautiful Lady of Carmel, carved in the 1700s, and the main altar with precious marble inlays that reproduce paintings of flowers and beautiful birds.

Church of the Immaculate Conception

The Church of the Immaculate Conception, announced by the beautiful staircase leading up to the original convex facade, guards the statue of Our Lady with the Child made in 1472 by Francesco Laurana.

Palazzolo Garden


Located in The Square Marconi has four large long paths with a wide variety of centuries-old trees, hedges and bushes. On the central avenue is a stone statue, the “Flora”, by Giuseppe Giuliano.

Antonio Uccello’s House Museum


Antonino Bird, creator of the “House Museum”, was a poet and an anthropologist. Uccello focuses its attention on creating scenes consistent with the environment in order to show the visitor how the exhibits were used. He has been involved in making some exhibition areas versatile by making them suitable for temporary exhibitions concerning the different aspects of folklore, sometimes enhancing its aesthetic and artistic value, proposing in some other way the interpretation of his more hidden symbolic and communicative meanings.
Location: Machiavelli Street 19
Info: 0931 881 499
Opening times: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily and 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Ticket: € 2 ; Reduced price € 1

Museum of Travellers in Sicily


The “Museum of Travellers in Sicily” is a small museum that displays ancient maps, original prints, photographs, old books from the time of the Grand Tour in Sicily in the 18th century. Attached to the exhibition is the library that, through texts and computer consultations, documents the history of the “journey to Sicily”.
Location: Palazzo Vaccaro – Via Maestranza 5
Info: 0931 472181
Opening times: Closed Monday; Tuesday – Sunday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Tickets: €2

June 29 St. Paul’s Day


A’Sciuta of Sao Paulo: it is held on June 29th and is one of those popular festivals not to be missed. At 1pm the statue appears on top of the steps of his church and a deluge of colored ‘nzareddi (paper strips) flood the entire square (and many of the surrounding streets), covering everything between the sky and the street..

August 10th St. Sebastian’s Day


The feast of St. Sebastian is celebrated on January 20, the day on which the martyrdom of the saint is celebrated, and then again from 9 to 17 August. The latter is the “real” festival, which reaches its highlight on the 10th, when a large crowd waits in front of the church for the exit (slit) of the statue, welcomed into the square with a shower of ‘nzareddi (strips of paper color) and fireworks.

St. Michael Archangel

The first Sunday after September 29, the spectacular unveiling of the statue of the saint with rich multicolored fireworks. The statue is carried “on uncovered shoulder” in procession through the streets of the neighborhood, followed by believers and women traveling barefoot; among the rites during the procession there is the denudation of children who are stripped and raised in front of the statue of the archangel to ask for its protection against evils.

The Carnival of Palazzolo


The Palazzolo Carnival is one of the oldest in Sicily; dating back to the Middle Ages when the barons allowed dancing and having fun before Lent. Among the most beautiful carnivals in Sicily with fun parades of floats followed by crowds of grotesque masks and live music almost at every corner. All people wear masks with richly colored costumes and enjoy the great spectacle.


The nature reserve “Vendicari Wildlife Oasis” was established in 1984 by the Sicilian Region. Located precisely between Noto and Marzamemi, it is home to one of the most amazing ecosystems in the world. Crystal clear sea, long and golden beaches, incredible landscapes, Mediterranean vegetation, bird watching observers that will allow you to admire flamingos, herons, storks and other splendid birds. The historical profile is also important: in fact, there are some latomie (stone quarries) of the 5th century BC. used in the ancient Greek city of Eloro for the construction of temples and monuments. La Trigona: a square-plan Byzantine Cuba with three apses, an upper dome and an eastward opening so that, as a tradition, the light of the full moon  by entering  the building announced the beginning of   Holy Easter. Dating back to medieval times the Swabian Tower  built by Pietro of Aragon, Count of Alburquerque and Duke of Noto (1406-1438), to signal and repel attacks by Saracen and Barbarian pirates. Another marvel to visit, from more recent times – 700 – is the Tonnara di Vendicari ,  also called Bafutu; the activity of the Tonnara has always been facilitated by the presence of salt pans.

The peculiarity of Vendicari oasis e is given by the different biotypes that compose it: from the pools that form the marshes to the rocky and sandy coast or the typical Mediterranean scrub. Both the terrestrial environments surrounding the marshes and the aquatic environments are characterized by an extraordinary variety of habitats and exceptional biodiversity: this is due, as far as the former is concerned, to the presence of very different substrates, to particular hydrogeological characteristics and the different physical-chemical characteristics of the waters. Thus terrestrial environments enumerate valuable phyto-sociological associations, specific to these systems and a wide variety of species, some of which have almost disappeared in the rest of Sicily. There is a very dense Mediterranean scrub, which in general characterizes the territory with lentils, myrtics, Spartium junceum, wild olive trees, etc.,  The coastal sandy environment includes, distributed in parallel strips to the coast from shore to inland, sea rocket, salicornia, beach-grass, Eryngium creticum, maritime euphoria, sea lily; flowering beach, cornflower beach, sea fennel, in the strips behind the dunes; an exclusive, dense and uninterrupted strip of Mediterranean scrub with juniper, along with ephedra, lentischio and fillirea in the innermost and most undisturbed dunes. This wide variety of intact environments is the essential basis for the varied presence of ecological niches, elsewhere unimaginable, that offer refuge to a large number of animal species, many of which are endangered in Sicily. So Vendicari represents not only an important nerve area in the migratory and wintering routes of many bird species (over 200 species, some residents and some nesters, including the spatula, ash heron, stork, flamingo, ibis wild goose, pink seagull, black-winged stilt, stone curl, others) but it also gives refuge to many mammals (Silicon embody, dormouse, hedgehog, pygmy shrew, vole, porcupine, fox, weasel, wild rabbit),  amphibians and reptiles (colubro, grass snake, leopard rat snake, green lizard, marsh turtle) and insects.
Also important is the marsh environment, where there are numerous species of aquatic fauna (fish, crustaceans, reptiles) and submerged vegetation (algae and several fanerogames, proper to these environments).
The marine environment in front of these marshes – characterized by shallow seabeds consisting of both rocks covered by algal associations and sandy and grasslands of the Oceanic Poseidonia, and populated by appreciated fish fauna (sea bass, sea bream, dassie) – is among the areas identified by the Law for the establishment of a marine reserve (AMP).


Parallel to the entire coastal section of the reserve there are a series of easy paths (accessible from the entrances Eloro, Calamosche, Main Entry Tonnara and Citadella) that can be walked almost non-stop, either individually or in segments.
From the main entrance, where the Information Point is located and a first hut to observe the birds,   you can proceed both left (north) and right (south). In the first case, moving between the coast and the Great and Small Marshes, in succession you will meet the beach ,  the Tonnara (old tuna  factory ) , the Swabian tower station and the visitor center (7min), an observation point (14min) and the beach of Calamosche (37min), from which with a detour (18min) is you can reach the entry of the same name; Heading south, immersed in the beautiful vegetation with juniper scrub, between the shore and the banks of the Roveto and the swamps of the Sichili, you will meet in succession the mouth of the swamp of Sichili (beyond which you reach an additional observation point on the Sichili swamp with a slight detour), the beach and South entrance  (30min).