Sicily welcomed us with surprisingly good weather this time of year. Well, we are used to the fact that in March nature is very, very slowly coming to life and temperatures higher than 10 degrees are rare. Fortunately, the southern end of Italy is completely different. We spent long, sunny and mostly warm days of the last week visiting ancient Syracuse and the cities of Noto and Palazzolo Acreide in the Val di Noto.
A week ago we left Katania and around the volcano Etna. Golf caught on the last commemorative photo with a terrifying looking mountain at this time of year.
On Monday, we visited Syracuse. It was very significant center in antiquity, today is full of monuments of the past, but still a provincial city that derives a large income from tourism. Nothing unusual. In addition to the buildings from ancient times (Greek and Roman), Syracuse is full of traces from subsequent eras, especially the late Baroque, very popular in Sicily.
The ancient city was located on the island of Ortygia, which in the nineteenth century connected with the mainland by the bridge (today called Ponte Umbertino). We are on Piazzo Archimede, we look at the richly decorated Fontana Di Diana. Behind us, there is a house in which the famous ancient mathematician Archimedes was born and lived.
The main square of Syracuse is Piazza Duomo, full of magnificent baroque palaces and churches.
The most important of the monuments here is the cathedral (Duomo di Siracusa) visible on the right.
We are approaching the southern end of Ortygia, occupied by Castello Manice, which is inaccessible to visitors.
The water in the bay is very clean, it can even encourage the brave to swim. The air temperature reaches 25 degrees, but the water does not exceed 15-17 degrees.
Narrow and slightly wider, but with beautifully flowered streets, we pass through the center of Ortygia and go to the new part of Syracuse, located on the mainland.
We are on one of the two bridges connecting Ortygia and Syracuse. From Ponte Santa Lucia we look at Ponte Umbertino. This boat will soon flow under the bridge.
Last look at Syracuse. We are at Piazza Santa Lucia and look at the two churches located at the northern end of the square, the basilica (on the right) and the church of Saint Lucia with the catacombs (on the left).
From Syracuse we went to Noto. It is one of eight cities and towns located in the Noto Valley, which have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Today we can admire the beautifully decorated churches and palaces, but remember that the cause of the construction of these buildings was a devastating earthquake in 1693, which ruined the aforementioned cities. Noto, which was completely destroyed, was located in a new place and built from scratch.
We enter the city from the east through the Arc de Triomphe, followed by Corso Vittorio Emanuelle.
We admire the beautiful church and monastery of San Salvadore on the main street of the city.
We reach the main square of the city – Piazza Duomo. The main building is of course the cathedral (Basilica Minore de San Nicolo) which is also the most important monument of Noto. It’s worth taking a look at it longer because it is considered one of the best examples of the Late Baroque style from the beginning of the 18th century.
Opposite the cathedral is the town hall.
In Noto itself, despite its small size, there are as many as 50 churches! Today, most of them are closed or have other functions. It is worth entering each of several dozens of narrow streets, because with certainty at the end of it you will find something interesting. It is at the steep Via Giovanni Bovio.
We spent the next day relaxing and sunbathing on the beach. We went to Avola, famous for its beautiful sandy coast. We were not disappointed, because the views are really wonderful there.
In Avola, as in any other Sicilian city, you can buy fresh vegetables and fruits straight from the truck on practically every main street.
Since we’re in the automotive industry …
The last day of sightseeing is another of Baroque villages located in Val di Noto – Palazzolo Acreide. Here it was a little more modest, the churches and palaces are covered with a slightly thicker layer of patina, but you certainly can not deny this place a charm.
We start from the most beautiful, though slightly out of the way, chapel in the city – Chiesa Dell’Anunziata. Particular attention should be paid to the details of the façade, including life-size fruits such as pomegranates and grapes decorating the front entrance to the temple.
The main square of the old Palazzolo Acreide – Piazza Sao Paolo with the church dedicated to the patron of the square.
Walking along the neglected streets of the center, we come to the next baroque temples, which were built as part of the reconstruction of the city after the destruction of the late seventeenth century.
In Sicily, spring is fully.
We are in the „new”, located slightly above the city. In Via Roma, near the town hall square, this is the view.
We are going back to the old baroque part of the city. In Palazzolo we will not meet many tourists this time of year. Thanks to this, we can easily walk around the empty streets and admire the atmosphere of the town. You can see that many houses require major renovation, but will they look just as beautiful after it?
We’re back in the area around Piazza Sao Paolo. In front of one of the churches, the most popular means of communication in Sicily – the Fiat Panda 1000. The vitality of these vehicles, which were produced in the 1980s, are still successfully overcoming the hilly and uneven roads of Sicily.
At the end, the panorama of the old Palazzolo Acreide seen from the stairs leading to the „upper city”.
Next week we’re going to Agrigento, south of Sicily. We will not fail to hook up the center of the island to see how life in the province looks like in the peripheral region of Italy.