In this Sicilian travel blog, I will give you tips, information and inspirations on the Southeastern part of Sicily. In this part of Sicily, you can find historical Sicilians Baroque culture like the UNESCO-listed cities of Syracuse / Ortygia, Noto, Modica and Ragusa. As a beach girl, I visited of course the beach of the fishing village Marzameni. See below my route and tips and information on my accommodations, restaurants and places to visit in beautiful Southeast Sicily.
Legendary Syracuse & Ortygia
I drove from my accommodation in the Etna area to the peninsula of Syracuse called Ortygia. The distance is about 70 km.
Tip: Most of the time I take the scenic roads instead of highway; it takes more time, but you see more and get a better feeling of the country.
I walked the labyrinth of small streets in this amazing part of this old Ortygia. In 1693 an earthquake ruined the town and they rebuild it baroque style. You will find a lot of restaurants, cafes, a street market and nice mansions; it all has a great vibe to be honest. It was lunchtime and went to the well recommended Fratelli Burgio for a tagliere; which is a wooden platter with small bites of delicious food. Nice to try a lot of different kind of food in my instance the fish version (20 EUR).
Time to explore Ortygia a bit further, walked via the small streets to the square of Piazza del Duomo with the Cathedral of Syracuse. The Cathedral or Duomo is built on a Greek Temple in the 7th-century a very beautiful church!
The next highlight is the Fontana Aretusa, this ancient spring with fresh water is located next to the ocean where you spot the cruise ships in the back. The spring contains a lot of big fish, ducks and water vegetation like papyrus plants.
Strolling around this ancient town brings be back in time. I passed some small beaches with crystal clear water. It was hot even in the beginning of September. Time for another Sicilian delicacy; granita. Kind of ice-cream but with a crystalline texture. Location: Gelateria Gusto on Via Roma 2,50 EUR.
Strolling with my granita I passed the Fontana di Diana on the Piazza Archimede. Time to get back to the car which was parked at the northern part of Ortygia.
Where to Stay and Eat
Time to jump into the water to cool off, I random stopped at Lungomare Tremoli near Avola. Then drove to San Lorenzo to find accommodation, but hard to find something what I liked in my budget. Had a drink at a cool beach place called Lido Agua Beach. Searched the web and ended up at Agriturismo Le Zagare di Vendicari for the night including breakfast (110 EUR). I liked it here, they didn’t speak English, but the room was nice and the facilities even more! Big pool with the gardens and farm fields all around.
Close to Marzameni and Noto next to the Natural Reserve of Vendicari. I was tired of entire day and stayed at the Agriturismo for dinner (30 EUR), which was a very good choice! Romantic tables with candles outside on the terrace and the food was very very good; ravioli with pistachio pesto, parmigiana di melanzane and almond pudding. Loved it here! Breakfast was very extended, perfect base to continue my journey to Noto.
Baroque in Noto
Noto was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693 to another Sicilian Baroque village. Most of the buildings have these golden, yellow brownish sandstone color, same for the Basilica Cattedrale di San Nicolò. You pass baroque Palazzo Castelluccio, Basilica Santissimo Salvatore and churches like San Domenico and San Francesco.
All feast for the eyes! Loved to stroll around and admire the architecture of these impressive buildings. More to come in Modica and Ragusa. Time for a coffee break at Dolceria Costanzo. It was another hot day, a cold coffee granita (3 EUR) tasted perfect! Time to drive to Marzameni via the SP19.
Chilling in Fishing Town Marzameni
I like to combine things on my holiday, culture but also beach and chill time. The weather is great and temperatures in the high twenties. Time to chill at the beach a for couple of hours in Marzameni. For couple of EURs you can park your car in the center close to the beach. I looked for a free and quiet spot next to the rocks in the white sand. A lot of seaweed in the water, but still amazingly blue and clear. Love it!
Marzameni is a fishing town full of colorful restaurants, cafes and shops. Loved the vibe here. Had a popular dish here the fried calamari and verdures at Fritti in un Coppo for lunch (10 EUR) but later I saw more appealing places to eat to around the Piazza Regina Margherita. The local harbor is full of colorful boats, perfect stroll in the sun back to the car.
Culture and Chocolate in Modica
After my beach time I drove to Modica, my last stop for the day. It was already a culture day in Noto but didn’t want to miss Modica. Driving through the agricultural area, with limes, wines and many other crops. The Sicilians use every part of the ground to grow something. Passing Ispica on to Sicily’s most distinctive town Modica. Modica consist of two centers, alta and bassa in English, upper and lower. It is situated between two narrow valleys, which makes it unique.
Tip: To explore Modica take the Trenino Barocco (historical train), indeed very touristic, but you don’t have to walk all the way up and that for only 5 EUR.
Perfect for me after a long day, left with the 16:00 train, which goes every hour. During the train ride they play a tape with explanation of the historical building you pass, even in English. You visit 10 of the most historical highlights of Modica; like the masterpiece Duomo San Giorgio located on top of a 250-steps staircase and Chiesa San Pietro.
Tip: Take the train up and walk back, I stopped on the way back at Church San Giorgio and walked down to the departure point on the main street Corso Umberto I.
Next to the impressive baroque churches, Modica is also famous for the grainy chocolate. The use and ancient method to make the chocolate, which you can buy at Antica Dolceria Bonajuto. This is Sicily oldest chocolate factory. You can get the chocolate in many flavors. So, if you like chocolate like me this place is a must do; and do is, buy and eat the chocolate!
Where to Stay and Eat
I booked my accommodation for one night (54 EUR) at Modica Old Town Rooms in the middle of the center of Modica next to Chiesa del Carmine. The entrance is dark and narrow, but the rooms are fresh and clean with a perfect shower; I even had a small French balcony with a nice view!
I went for the best pizza del giorno (12 EUR) at Egopizza close to my accommodation, which they recommended to me and even got a discount of 10%. There are a lot of restaurants in Modica; which got a lively center in the evening when it gets a bit cooler. Great vibe here!
Tip: After visiting the Duomo San Giorgio in the afternoon, get a cocktail at this great bar on the hill with great view; Gli Orti di San Giorgio. Great atmosphere and the cocktails are the best, perfect for an apritive!
Strolling in Ragusa Ibla
From Modica it’s only a 15 min drive to the next town of Ragusa. Ragusa is located on a mountain hill and divided in an old and new town. Ibla is called the old town and the most historical interesting part with a labyrinth of small streets and beautiful piazzas and churches like; Duomo di San Giorgio. Another creation of the architect Rosario Gagliardi built in 1744, with a beautiful facade that looks like a wedding cake. The square is not that big, compared to the other towns, a lot of houses and buildings are built close to the church. Ibla is compact, with steps up and down; a joy to walk around and admire the small houses and get lost in time!
On the different piazzas you could drink some coffee with local sweets with a view on the Duomo. Walking back to the car I followed the Corso XXV Aprile to the Giardino Ibleo; a public garden with stunning views, ambling pathways with palm trees, churches & fountains. But enough culture, baroque churches, piazzas for now, time to head to the South and Mediterranean Coast of Sicily.