Jan
10

The Val di Noto

The South East of Sicily is often called the Val di Noto, dating from the times when the Arabs divided the island into 3 valli.  Comprising the UNESCO listed baroque towns the Val di Noto offers something for everyone, and though Siracusa is probably the most famous of its towns the area has a host of towns, beaches and secrets that the visitor will appreciate.   The Val di Noto is the ‘Greek bit’ of Sicily – it was here that the Greeks first landed in 600 BC and where the colonies flourished.  The south east of the island retained its Greek roots even during the Arab conquest, and it was only with the Spanish overlords from the 13th century onwards that society changed inexorably.   Even so, the south east of Sicily retains a sense of ‘Greekness’.  it is seen as being the most cultured part of the island, and while lacking in infrastructure is becoming the most appreciated area of Sicily.  From the UNESCO city of Siracusa, with the beautiful teardrop island of Ortigia and the vast archaelogical park, you can travel south to Noto – the garden of stone – and prime example of a Baroque planned city.  The VEndicari nature reserve offers 13km of pristine beaches and lagoons for migrating birds and Mediterranean flora.  The south east tip of the island – Capo Passero is the southernmost tip of ‘mainland’ Italy and the meeting point of two seas.  The Baroque jewels of Scicli, Modica and Ragusa are best explored at leisure.  The southern coastline takes in the resorts of Pozzallo, Sampieri, Donnalucata and Marina di Ragusa and offer endless stretches of golden sandy beaches.   Inland the hill towns of Chiaramonte Gulfi and Monterosso Almo are more akin to Tuscan hill towns than to Sicilian villages.  Famous for its olive oil, fruit and vegetables and citrus fruits as well as almonds, the south east of the island offers local delicacies and rich fare for those who love to eat.

The stunning countryside changes within a few kilometres, from open coastal plains to verdant rolling hills to moors and dales crisscrossed with dry stone walls.  Lush and green from october to June this part of the island has no rain usually for 3 months in the summer and the fields become yellow and dry in the hot summer sun.

With the new airport at Comiso (Ragusa)  and with low cost carriers keen to use the airport as a destination, the potential for this part of Sicily is huge.  The last few years have seen an increase in quality hotels and residences, there is a continual upgrading of roads and services in the region and Ragusa is deemed the best part of Sicily to live in with the highest quality of life index of the island.