SICILY IN THREE STAGES Second Stage from Taormina to Agrigento

This stage is 424km long which we completed in five days, in order to enjoy the Baroque towns of south and a visit to Ortigia in Siracusa , a gem that should not be missed.  From Taormina we went straight to Ortigia.  We stopped at Ortigia for two nights and then we traveled south, far south, to Marina di Ragusa. We stayed two nights in Marina di Ragusa to visit the surroundings and the third day we went to Agrigento, making a detour to visit the Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina. You can also skip this last visit and go direct from Marina di Ragusa to Agrigento, which shortens distances and time.

 

The fastest way to Ortiga is along the highway A18, but if you have time is a good idea to make a detour to enjoy the scenery of Acitrezza and Acireale, two splendid coastal towns north of Catania.  Catania is a very big city and we skip it due to lack of time and because it seemed a rather chaotic place.  Instead, we went for lunch at the charming fishing village of Santa Maria la Scala, located on the Ionian coast at the foot of the Timpa, a giant cliff, about 3 km of steep road from Acireale, next to the sea.

IMG_0614       Santa Maria La Scala

IMG_0617       Lunch

ORTIGIA

The small island of Ortigia is linked to the mainland by three bridges and is the historic heart of Syracuse.  Certainly one of the most charming places in Sicily, .  The entire island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a magical place full of romantic corners, lost alleys, narrow streets and stunning architecture of the past

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Il Salotto di Maria Pia  A very comfortable, clean and well decorated B&B in the heart of Ortigia.  We booked an independent apartment separated from the B&B, no meals included but with a nice small kitchen,  located in a pedestrian zone on the ground floor, facing this lovely alley.

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Algila Ortiga   Hotel de Charme standing next to the sea on the ancient “Mastra Rua”, a street that from the 14 th century was where the most important noblemen of the city had their residences

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These are my reccommendations for a good lunch or dinner in Ortigia

La Salumeria dei Fratelli Burgio, Piazza Cesare Battisti, 4, historic food market of Ortigia

Trattoria O’ Scina  Via Domenico Scinà, 12  Among other delicatessen the restaurant recreates the Ricette di Montalbano, recipes inspired in Salvo Montalbano, the Sicilian detective created by Andrea Camilleri.

 

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MARINA DI RAGUSA

 

Marina di Ragusa is a small village and port located directly opposite the island of Malta. We choose to stay in the surroundings so as to drive easily to the beach and nearby villages and towns of the south.  The Silva Suri Hotel was a good choice for a three night stay, comfortable, clean, well decorated and its restaurant served a good breakfast.  The Lungomare Andrea Doria is the promenade along the beach, a nice place for a “passeggiata” or evening stroll, which is an evening ritual in which between 5pm and 8pm Italians go out the streets to see and be seen. After the “passeggiata” we had dinner at a wonderful restaurant right on the beach, Lido Azzurro. The roasted octopus with crunchy vegetables and green sauce was excellent, so was the fish soup and the mousse with chocolate fondue.

SIDE TRIPS

Is easy to take side trips from Marina di Ragusa to the Baroque towns of Ragusa Ibla, Modica, Scicli, Noto and the beautiful seaside towns of Marzamemi  and Sampieri.

Scicli deserves a visit, is an enchanting baroque small town in the Province of Ragusa listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Only 18km away from Marina di Ragusa, is a good place to start a nice drive along the Val di Noto and beaches.

 

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Palazzo Beneventano is a beautiful baroque building in Via Penna, 202, facing the Palazzo the Ristorante Baqqala is a very good place to have lunch or diner.

Ristorante Baqqala

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Ragusa Ibla, the most striking part of the town of Ragusa, is 25km away from Scicli and home to many baroque palaces and churches.  The impressive San Giorgio Cathedral honors the holy patron of Ragusa, stands on top of a long stairway and is a must do on your visit to the town. Take a walk along the narrow streets, stop and enjoy the wonderful views, visit the old churches and if you happen to arrive at lunch or dinner time stop by A Rusticana, Vico Domenico Morelli, 4, a traditional Sicilian restaurant serving really good food.

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Ristorante A Rusticana

 

 

IMG_0446Noto is 32 kilometres (20 mi) southwest of the city of Syracuse and 43 kilometres north or Ragusa. Noto is a very easy town to visit and it is possible to see the most important sites in one day.  Walk along the Corso Vittorio Emanuele where the most representative baroque buildings of town are: the Church of S Francesco at the Piazza dell’Immacolata, the majestic Cathedral, the Palazzo Ducezio the Town Hall, the Palazzo Landolina and the Episcopal Palace at the Piazza del Municipio, the Dominican Convent, the church of San Domenico and the Municipal Theater at the Piazza XVI Maggio.

MARZAMEMI

Marzamemi, located around an ancient Tonnara, used to be a fishing village, currently is a charming and beautiful small seaside village 22km southeast from Noto.  The center of the small hamlet of Marzamemi is Piazza Regina Margherita on which stands the old church now in disuse and the new church “San Francesco di Paola”, the old fishermen’s houses together with the Palace of the Prince of Villadorata built in 1752 by the Principe di Villadorata as his permanent residence.

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SAMPIERI

The tiny fishing village full of character and only 11km south from Scicli has a beautiful beach with golden sand and crystal water.

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FROM MARINA DI RAGUSA TO VALLEY OF THE TEMPLES

After touring the south-east of Sicily and discovering wonderful places, we started our trip north to the province of Trapani but before we stop in Agrigento to visit the Valley of the Temples, the most impressive group of monuments of all of Magna Greecet, two hours from Marina de Ragusa on the SS115 route, which goes along the coast.

The best time to visit the Valley is early in the morning, so I reccommend to stay the night before in a hotel nearby and wake up early and rested. Wear a hat, comfortable shoes, bring water, sunscreen and begin the visit. An excellent option is to visit the Archaeological Museum the previous afternoon as an introduction to the life of the Greek settlers.

Speaking of hotels there are several options at different rates and quality.  Colleverde Park Hotel, Via Panoramica dei Templi, is perfectly well located between the historic center of the city and the Valley of the Temples, has comfortable rooms and good rates.   Villa Athena is the only 5-star hotel situated within the Archaeological Park of the Valley of the Temples 200 metres away from the Temple of Concordia with an exclusive direct entrance. Simply the best.

 

 

 

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