Discover the Val di Noto

Cruising through Sicily’s stunning and lesser known south east corner, you might start to feel a little conflicted. On one hand, you may want to tell all your friends to stop what they’re doing and come immediately! However, the desire to keep this endearing pocket of the island a secret may triumph…

Ortigia

Take Siracusa for instance, a UNESCO protected city full of energy and history, divided into the mainland and its beating island heart, Ortigia. From the interesting architecture to the buzzing, local markets and streets teeming with craft shops, it’s hard not to fall in love with. Wandering around the narrow, pretty lanes, you’ll discover something fascinating at every turn – from churches with no roofs to tiny, tucked away ristorantes serving excellent food.

And then there’s the Archeological Park, housing relics of the Greek and Roman eras. Most impressive is the huge 5th century BC Greek theatre. Believe it or not, it is still in use today for the annual Greek Theatre Festival. When you’ve finished exploring for the day, sit along the lungomare (seafront) in Ortigia and watch the sun set over the water.  

Greek Theatre of Siracusa

Elsewhere, step back in time as you visit the unmissable late Baroque towns of Val di Noto. Collectively, they make up a UNESCO World Heritage site, of which Sicily has 7. They were all rebuilt following a devastating earthquake in 1693, whereby the architects were given free rein to add their flourishes.

You’ll see this in the expressive gargoyles of twisted, wrought iron balconies and the colourful marble used inside churches. Nearest to Siracusa, Noto is a great spot for lunch or gelato. Dine among the grand, honey coloured buildings or climb up a bell tower on the main street, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, for magnificent views across the town.

Noto

Heading west along the winding mountain roads, the sight of Modica as it appears will take your breath away. Its remarkable buildings seem to tumble down the sides of 2 hills, with the heart of the town nestled in between. If you’re feeling especially active, you can scale the stone staircases that separate the upper and lower parts of the town.

All that exercise surely deserves a treat, which Modica is perfect for! Famed for the art of chocolate production, you’ll find the oldest chocolatier in Sicily here, Anticua Dolceria Benajuto. Tuck in to the delicious cocoa treat, which uses an Aztec recipe and comes in a range of unusual flavours such as cardamom and nutmeg.

Modica Chocolate

Other Baroque gems of the Val di Noto include Ragusa and Scicli, brimming with grand palazzi and divine dining options. Fans of the detective series Inspector Montalbano may recognise filming locations in Scicli and might also like to visit Punta Secca on the south coast, where you’ll find Montalbano’s fictional home.

After site-seeing to your heart’s content, indulge in a well-deserved glass of local wine, Nero d’Avola, at one of the region’s stunning sandy beaches such as Fontane Bianche – bliss!

Scicli

View our full range of villas in Sicily

Introducing Sicily: a fantastic new Villa Plus destination

Fascinating ancient ruins, beautiful beaches and awe-inspiring Mount Etna… Sicily has all the hallmarks of an unforgettable villa holiday. And that’s why we’ve just added it to our great range of destinations! To celebrate the launch, let’s take a look at what the largest Italian region and Mediterranean island has to offer.

Ancient history and charming towns

Italy has no shortage of historical wonders and Sicily is no exception. To begin with, there’s atmospheric Siracusa (Syracuse) on the south-eastern coast next to the glittering Ionian Sea. This ancient city is famous for its captivating archaeological park where you can step back in time and discover ruins like the monumental Greek theatre and intriguing Ear of Dionysus.

The southeast is also home to Val di Noto, one of the island’s 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. After the area was destroyed by a huge earthquake in 1693, charming new towns were built with striking Baroque-style architecture. Visit Noto, the most famous of them all, to climb the bell tower of Chiesa di San Carlo Borromeo and soak up the unrivalled rooftop views.

Active volcanoes and beautiful beaches

No trip to Sicily is complete without a visit to Mount Etna, the highlight of the island’s natural landscape. The largest active volcano in Europe, this spectacular peak stands over 9,000 feet high on the east coast. To reach the summit and marvel at the dramatic surroundings, jump in a cable car, book a 4×4 jeep excursion, or – if you’re an adventurous sort – hike from the base station!

For a more relaxing way to admire the island’s beauty, take a trip to one of the gorgeous beaches all around the coast. The small resort of Fontane Bianche, in the south east, is known for its fabulous stretch of powdery white sand and dazzling clear waters. Or head to nearby Calamosche, a quiet little sandy bay in Vendicari Nature Reserve that’s flanked by two rocky headlands and perfect for a spot of snorkelling.

Delicious food and delectable drink

With its Arabic, French and Greek influences, Sicily’s cuisine has something to delight all taste buds. Snack on Arancini, the famous rice balls bursting with ragu, pistachio nuts, cheese and spinach. Feast on a bowl of Pasta alla Norma, the island’s signature pasta dish featuring a rich and delicious sauce made with aubergine, tomatoes and salted ricotta. Or indulge in some infamous Cannoli, deep-fried crispy pastry tubes filled with creamy sweetened ricotta.

And then wash it all down with a glass of wine from one of the island’s vineyards. You’ll find plenty across Sicily growing its most well-known grape varieties, including the flagship red Nero d’Avola. Visit a few to admire the glorious views, enjoy some tastings and pick up a few bottles to take home as a reminder of your trip. Not that you’ll forget it in a hurry!

Tempted to spend your next villa holiday in this magical Italian island? Check out our brand new range of Sicily villas and be one of the first to book.