The beautiful town of Scicli, a stones throw from the beach


Villas in Sicily near Scicli >>

ModicaLess well-known than its prestigious neighbours (Ragusa, Noto and Modica) but just as fascinating and beautiful, Scicli is well worth a visit if you’re ever in south-eastern Sicily. 

It sits in a gorge just a few miles from the long sandy beaches of Sampieri and Donnalucata and is overlooked by a towering rocky mass on which the Church of San Matteo sits.

The town shares much of its history with the other UNESCO Heritage Site towns of the Val di Noto, most specifically the fateful earthquake of 1693, during which over 3,000 of the town’s population died. Scicli, like the towns in the area, was totally rebuilt in pure Sicilian Baroque style. Today, it is a joy to wander round.

Scicli’s history, of course, long predates 1693, and it is thought to have taken its name from its founders, the Sicels, one of the three main tribes that inhabited Sicily before the arrival of the Greek colonists. Like the rest of the island, it was passed from one invading conqueror to another, reaching its economic and cultural peak during the Arab and Norman dominations.

There is a lot to see in Scicli including a number of lovely churches such as those of Sant’Ignazio, San Matteo, San Bartolomeo and Santa Marìa la Nova.

This latter has a Byzantine wooden statue of the Virgin Mary.

The many aristocratic palazzi, such as Palazzo Beneventano, are also fun to see, brimming over with characterful gargoyles, elegant swirls and decorative fancies.

A stroll along Via Francesco Mormina Penna is also strongly recommended as it provides a perfect example of a late Baroque street, harmonious in its wholeness and equal to anything found in the neighbouring towns of greater fame.

A series of annual events dot Scicli’s calendar, some of which are worth a look if you’re in the area:

- At Easter there is a procession to celebrate the “Uomo Vivo” (or Man Alive) which continues right down to the seaside at Donnalucata

- At the end of May the town celebrates its liberation from the Saracens with the Madonna a Cavallo festival: according to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared riding a white horse, sword in hand, to encourage - the Norman armies against their Arabic foes.

If you're a fan of the hit detective series Inspector Montalbano, you may like to take a wander down the beautifully conserved baroque street of Via Mormino Penna where you'll find the fictional police station from the TV show. The base from which Montalbano strived to work out whodunit is actually the town hall of Scicli, and the fictional regional police HQ is a few steps away in Palazzo Iacono.

Of course there's much more, but this has hopefully whetted your appetite to explore this really lovely little town!

Scicli, in case you were wondering, is pronounced shi-kli !

Villas in Sicily near Scicli >>

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