“Between wonder and beauty, the wildness of the island”
by Gino Morabito
Archimedes is said to have protected her with a gigantic system of mirrors, the reflection of which set fire to the sails of Roman enemies. We are in Syracuse and more precisely in Ortigia. The centerpiece is Piazza del Duomo, a wonderful rift within the maze of streets that cross the island. Walking through the alleys is a discovery, among balconies, churches, squares and shops populated with people and history.
The beauty of the buildings and the triumph of the Baroque perfectly express the greatness that this place must have represented in the past. But Siracusa is not only Ortigia, it is also the archaeological area, tasting excellent fish, getting lost in the noises and smells of the central market, cooling off with a granita that satisfies our senses and restores us; is letting yourself be caught in the legend that surrounds the Dionysus Ear and witnessing a classic tragedy in the wonderful Greek Theater. After falling in love with the city, we continue our journey to the capital of Sicilian Baroque. Of Noto remains in the eyes the amber yellow color of its buildings and churches, the fiery sky at sunset and the breathtaking view over the roofs of the city. Declared, in 2002, a World Heritage Site by Unesco, it reveals to the visitor a very precious series of gems of pure beauty, including archaeological, artistic and landscape heritage. Definitely to be protected, with its delicacies, Caffè Sicilia. The mecca for those looking for the authentic flavors of this land; a journey through cannoli, cassate, pistachio ice cream and Savarin al Marsala.
Drunk with such beauty and eager to have more, we continue towards the Vendicari Reserve and Calamosche beach. Better known by the locals as “Funni Musca”, it is a sandy cove that stretches for about two hundred meters, bordered by two rocky promontories that shelter currents, with the result of a calm and crystalline sea. An enchanting natural swimming pool ideal for snorkeling. Swimming towards the reef on the sides of the golf course, where the seabed is deeper, caves, cavities and ravines host a varied marine fauna. Direct access to the beach is guaranteed by a dedicated entrance, taking a path of about one kilometer. A small sacrifice widely rewarded when, once arrived, a real natural paradise opens up before our eyes. From Calamosche we head towards Modica, which is also included in the list of world heritage sites. The Cathedral of San Giorgio, the Cathedral of San Pietro, the Palace of Culture, the Garibaldi Theater are some of the recommended stops for those wishing to fully enjoy the culture and traditions of a city which, in addition to its great architectural and historical richness, is a destination tourist of gourmands and gourmets who come from all over to taste the famous chocolate. Its peculiarity lies in the ancient workmanship and in those Aztec origins, in a colonization of men and tastes. The production process was brought by the Spanish conquistadors directly from Mexico and involves the cold working of cocoa with brown sugar. This means that the sugar cannot melt and gives the Modica chocolate its particular grainy consistency. The destination to be reached for enthusiasts and curious people to discover black gold is certainly the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto.
Immersed in the fields of the characteristic cherry tree that fill the landscape and conquer the sea, we come across Pachino. From there, pushing the gaze to the northeast, the village of Marzamemi. Terminus city, city of sea and fishing, it hosts the Frontier Film Festival. In the Spinazza area, the soft sand and the infinite blue seabed offer us the ideal location for an enchanting summer stay. Folklore and religiosity for the feast of San Francesco di Paola, on the first Monday after mid-August, with a procession of boats, cockpit and regatta. Stopping for an aperitif in Piazza Regina Margherita or tasting the typical bluefin tuna bottarga is like traveling through time. The Arab origins of Marzamemi can also be found in its name, which would derive from “marsà ‘al hamam”, that is, “bay of turtle doves”, for their copious passage in spring. A glass of Nero d’Avola looking at the Isolotto Brancati and its burgundy-colored cottage, and in the blink of an eye we are in Portopalo di Capo Passero, the southernmost municipality in Sicily. Four thousand souls and a particularity: it is wet both from the Mediterranean Sea and from the Ionian Sea. Once upon a time, the small port once stood on the latter, where the fishermen’s houses are still present, even if they are almost decaying. To the east stands the island of Capo Passero, protected from above by the Spanish fortress dominated by an imposing bronze statue of the Madonna. Portopalo also includes the isola delle correnti and that of Capo Passero: the first ideal for those who love wild and unspoiled nature; the second located just in front of the village from which it takes its name. An area of about thirty-five hectares separated from the mainland by a shallow strip of sea. It can be reached by swimming, canoeing, pedal boats or with a small boat rented if necessary. And here we are immersed in a very fine amber beach that slopes gently into a turquoise sea. An exotic scenario that is radically transformed in the northern area, where the coast becomes jagged and rocky. Vivid suggestions that still provide us with a good reason to travel to Sicily.