Street of Wine of the Val di Noto
In the Val di Noto, the territory of Siracusa is one of the places to visit in Sicily.
Its naturalistic and panoramic variety together with the complex and precious historical and cultural stratification makes the Val di Noto like an open book whose pages just wait to be turned. The Street of Wine of the Val di Noto traverses this multifaceted territory and surround the visitors in a special travel experience in the locations and their age-old history: art cities and small villages, archaeological parks, pristine landscapes, clear blue sea, wine and typical products.
Siracusa and the Val di Noto: what to see
Siracusa preserves the legacy of the past, a summary of the thousand-year-old cultural stratification of this part of Sicily. The island of Ortigia, the greek temples, the Neapolis archaeological area with the greek theatre and the roman amphitheatre, Christian catacombs and Byzantine necropolis, Arab courtyards, Swabian palaces, Baroque churches are a vivid testimony of the succession of people, culture, languages, customs and traditions that left permanent traces throughout time.
Gentle, sweet slopes alternate with rocky caves dug over time by the rivers, ancient seamen boroughs coexist with small mountain towns: fields of prickly pears, almonds and olive trees, citrus groves, vineyards as far as the eye can see only make room for uncontaminated reserves and natural parks.
Located in the Hyblaean Mountains plateau, in the ample district of the Pantalica Nature Reserve, the Anapo valley and the Cava Grande river, surrounded by the lush Mediterranean scrub, the Pantalica archaeological site represents one of the oldest settlements in eastern Sicily (between 13th and 6th Century BC) as well as one of the largest necropolises in Europe, counting approximately 5000 rock-cut tombs obtained in the cliffs overhanging the valley.
Nestled in the Hyblaen high grounds, the boroughs of Palazzolo Acreide, Buccheri, Buscemi, Cassaro, Ferla and Sortino enjoy this unique landscape.
Mountains a lot smaller than the other Sicilian ones, the countryside full of rocks; but nevertheless very fertile and rich and grassy, thus the flocks and herds have plenty to feed. It’s copious of wheat, wine, apples and cattle.
Another nature reserve is located among Syracuse, Avola and Noto: Cavagrande del Cassibile, one of the “Sicilian wonders” (Jean-Pierre Houël). A natural oasis famous for its small lakes, the waterfalls created by the Cassibile river, the lush vegetation composed of plane trees, willows, oleanders, ivy and fern, the two thousand rock-cut tombs of major archaeological value.
Following the coast to the south, between the quaint boroughs of Avola and Pachino, lies the nature reserve of Vendicari with its crescent golden beach, the reel, the clear sea, the Swabian tower built in the 15th century by order of Pietro d’Aragona and the ruins of the 18th century tonnara.
In close proximity is located the sea borough of Marzamemi: its tonnara, built by the Arabs, was the most important tuna fishing facility in eastern Sicily for a long time.
The Baroque of Val di Noto is considered one of the highest moments in the European Baroque Art History and city planning. In 2002 eight historic centers of the Val di Noto – Caltagirone, Catania, Militello, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo Acreide, Ragusa, Scicli – have been inserted in the Unesco’s World Heritage List under the common denomination of “Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto”, chosen as testimony of the exuberant genius of late Baroque art and architecture in Sicily.
In 1693 a terrible earthquake struck most of the cities in this area, among which Noto. Rebuilding started immediately, in search of a new identity that found its expression in Baroque art and architecture, a typically Sicilian harmonious mixture.
In the alleys of Noto it is still possible to admire the facades of the majestic churches, the ancient palaces with facades and balconies richly decorated with saucy masks, cupids and fauns, twisting pillars decorated with bunches of grapes.
The borough of Palazzolo Acreide is located in the Hyblaen mountainous plateau. It was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1693 and is a wonderful example of 16th century baroque architecture. West of the modern city, the Akrai archaeological park preserves the ruins of the ancient polis founded by the Syracusan Greek in 664/3 BC: the Greek theatre, the Bouleuterion and the temple of Aphrodite.
Together with the ‘Syracuse’ site, with the historical centre of Ortigia and the rock necropolis of Pantalica, they represent the jewels of the crown of a territory that is unique for its historical, archaeological, artistic, ethnoanthropological heritage, which also extends to its food and wine.
Itineraries and guided tours