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A guide to the locations of the Montalbano TV series

ON THE TRAIL OF INSPECTOR MONTALBANO

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Montalbano sugnu!" So the famous fictional Sicilian detective announces his presence as he calls at the homes of suspects, witnesses and friends. In his perennial quest for whodunit, Inspector Montalbano’s manner and his glorious sun-soaked baroque environs couldn’t be more different from the dark and damp Danish crime dramas that compete for TV audiences.

Adapted from the best-selling books by Sicilian author Andrea Camilleri, the TV series of Inspector Montalbano is set in and around the fictional town of Vigata, which was originally based on the Camilleri’s home town of Porto Empedocle a few kilometres west of Agrigento. However, when RAI, Italy’s state broadcaster, decided to transform the books into a hugely successful TV series, the great Inspector was seconded to the more picturesque area of Ragusa in southeast Sicily. If you’ve followed Montalbano’s small screen escapades, you might have wondered where exactly the series was filmed. Here is our guide to a few of the locations:

1. Punta Secca

Inspector Montalbano is lucky enough to wake up every morning in his seafront house in “Marinella”, which is, in reality, the small village of Punta Secca, just south of Santa Croce Camerina. His house is now a bed and breakfast and is situated just off the main square, recently renamed… yes, you got it… Piazza Montalbano.

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2. Scicli

The police station in “Vigata” where Montalbano plies his trade is actually the town hall of Scicli in the beautifully conserved baroque street of Via Mormino Penna. When things are getting particularly serious, Montalbano is summoned to meet his boss at the regional police HQ in the fictional town of “Montelusa”. In reality, however, the HQ is conveniently located just a few steps down the road from the town hall, in Palazzo Iacono. Scicli’s old town centre is part of the World Heritage Site of the Val di Noto and, while less known than its fellow UNESCO members (Ragusa, Noto and Modica), is most definitely worth exploring.

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3. Ragusa

Many of the "Vigata" scenes are filmed in and around Ragusa Ibla’s gorgeous Piazza Duomo, which is overlooked by the impressive Cathedral of San Giorgio, built in 1738. Montalbano, whose passion for detective work is equalled only by his love of good food, is a regular lunchtime client of “Trattoria San Calogero”, which in real life is Trattoria La Rusticana (Corso XXV Aprile). In the same street is another building that has featured in the series: the powder blue neoclassical Circolo di Conversazione, once the meeting place for the town’s aristocrats.

The panoramic shots of Ragusa Ibla that set the scene for many of the episodes are taken from the Church of Maria delle Scale, which lies midway between Ragusa Superiore (on the top of the hill) and Ragusa Ibla (way down below on a rocky crest that rises from a deep gorge). This lovely church was only partially destroyed by the 1693 earthquake, as can be seen from the Gothic Catalan-style arches in the right aisle. As its name suggests, the church is reached via 242 steps, though the vistas that spread out once you reach it are worth the effort.

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4. Modica

Modica is yet another glorious baroque town rebuilt, like Scicli and Ragusa, after the earthquake of 1693. Eminently photogenic, the location managers of the Montalbano series simply couldn't leave it out! Therefore, in certain episodes, we are treated to backdrops that include the magnificent Church of San Giorgio and the handsome façade of Palazzo Polara, amongst others.

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5. Il Castello di Donnafugata

One of Montalbano’s greatest nemeses was Mafia boss Balduccio Sinagra, whose magnificently luxurious abode is actually Il Castello di Donnafugata, the 19th century home of Baron Corrado Arezzo de Spuches, about 18km west of Ragusa. Open to the public, the castle is well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

6. Beaches

Apart from swimming off the beach outside his house in Punta Secca, Montalbano often finds himself on the long expanses of sand in Donnalucata and Sampieri just south of Scicli. The beach at Sampieri is also home to the “Mannara”, an evocative ruined brick factory that doubles as a tuna fishery in certain episodes of the series. Apart from their associations with Montalbano, both beaches are amongst the loveliest on this stretch of the Sicilian coastline.

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Why not come and discover Montalbano's homeland for yourself, staying in one of our villas in the southeast of Sicily?

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