After a thrilling trip to Etna our journey in Sicily took us to Noto Valley, one of the three ancient administrative partition of the Kingdom of Sicily. This area includes the island’s south-eastern part, from Catania to Ragusa.
It’s a very large area, extremely rich in historic, architectural, natural and cultural heritage. That’s way we took a long break here, longer than our whole on the road trip in Sicily. We spent ten days in Vendicari Nature Reserve, located between Noto and Pachine, one of Sicily’s most charming corners.
The major highlights of these 30-kilometre long stretch of land are doubtless the nature – luxuriant and partly protected by the reserve – the sea with its many beautiful beaches and bays, and the land’s food products, as the world renown Pachino tomatoes and the juicy lemons.
But let’s start with Vendicari Nature Reserve. It covers about 1500 hectares inhabited by countless birds, amphibious animals and reptiles, framed by a deeply restoring landscape.
A very fascinating site is where the remains of the ancient Tonnara (the whole combination of nets used for tuna fishing) are placed. The origin of this place is a connection to Sicily’s Arab heritage and dates back to 17th century. The site went through several renovations, ownerships and negligence. The fishing activity ended during the Second World War, what remains is imposing and very charming, although fragmentet.
The reserve’s coastline is coddled by a clear sea, rich with posidonia, a kind of seaweed which is considered to be a reliable indicator of the water’s good conditions. The beaches are all open to the public, exception made for the part committed to the sea turtles’ nesting.
Beyond the reserve further to the south, there is San Lorenzo, a small town with even more beautiful beaches, with well organized beach resorts, restaurants and bars. Close to San Lorenzo there is Marzamemi, an ancient fishermen village. The old town’s center is an amber jewel which stuns the visitors especially at night, when the street lights sparkle on the warm shades of the old buildings.
Since a few years Marzamemi is focusing its energies in the tourism industry and its enchanting beaches are among the most popular beaches in the area. Unfortunately some of the beach resorts try hard to look stylish, but lack quality when it comes to food and service.
For our ten days in this part of Sicily we opted for a full immersion in nature. We stayed in a camping place called Agricamping da Vinci, very close to the reserve’s entrance. It’s in the middle of a huge lemon tree woods, with wide camping spots under the shadow, efficient service and a warm, welcoming touch.
Further information about Vendicari Nature Reserve: Riserva Vendicari.
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