Sicily, the Mediterranean’s largest island, is located just off the toe of Italy’s “boot.” Its rich history is reflected in sites all over the island and it is also home to Mount Etna, one of Europe’s highest active volcanoes. With its diverse landscapes and cultural treasures, Sicily is a destination that should definitely be on your bucket list. While the island is vast, there is one particular unspoiled, sun-drenched corner of South East Sicily which is full of wonder. So book a long weekend, fly into Catania, rent a cute Fiat, and enjoy! Here are three must see towns in South East Sicily.
The Historical Town Of Siracusa & Ortygia Island
(1 hour south of Catania)
Founded by the Greeks over 2,700 years ago, Siracusa is one of the oldest and most influential cities of the Mediterranean region.
Make sure to allocate at least a full day to explore its delights – in particular, the old town of Ortygia. Ortygia is the historical centre of Siracusa and contains many historical landmarks. You cannot go wrong no matter what street you turn down, so just wander and get lost! Along the way you’ll see Piazza Duomo, the Temple of Apollo, the Fountain of Arethusa and Diana, and many other beautiful sites.
There are endless restaurants and bars to choose from but make sure to have an evening cocktail in the beautifully illuminated courtyard of Cortile Verga. The quirky menu has something for everyone and every drink is expertly mixed. Stay overnight in the charming antique hotel Henry’s House and wake up to stunning views of the harbor and breakfast on the beautiful outdoor terrace.
The Baroque Architectural Delight Of Noto
(1.3 hours south of Catania)
Noto, a small town with a historic centre that is comprised almost entirely of crumbling Baroque palaces, churches and houses, is a feast for the eyes. Its cathedral, rebuilt after 10 years of difficult work, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The main attraction in Noto is to simply roam around the narrow streets, admiring the golden-colored stone buildings, facades and balconies. Start your adventure under the Arco di Trionfo and stroll down corso Vittorio Emanuele. Once you work up an appetite, make a pit stop at the chic Anche gli Angeli, where you can also buy local Sicilian products and read books. If you have some extra time on your hands, soak up some rays at the nearby Calamosche beach or make the hike to Cavagrande lakes.
The Quaint Fishing Village Of Marzamemi
(1.5 hours south of Catania)
The third and final stop, near the tip of Sicily’s south, is the pretty seaside village of Marzamemi. The old centre of the village is organised around the extremely picturesque Piazza Regina Margherita.
On the south side of the town is the little fishing harboor with its bobbing fleet of colorful wooden boats, and on the other, a series of charming buildings, including the Church of San Francesco di Paola.
Make sure to enjoy an apéritif at one of the many seaside bars (such as Bar La Balata) and stop for food on the delightful ocean veranda at Cortile Arabo or the picture-perfect terrace at La Cialoma. On your way home, grab an authentic Italian gelato at II Tuo Gelato 2.