Many of you are thinking about summer holidays. Maybe you are thinking of Sicily as a destination for your holidays and you might be looking for some ideas. Here I come to help you, proposing an itinerary for a road trip to Southeastern Sicily.
Itinerary for a road trip to Southeastern Sicily
If you plan to embark on a road trip to Southeastern Sicily, you will most likely rely on Catania Fontanarossa as landing airport. An alternative could be Comiso airport – near Ragusa – but unfortunately not many flights are operated from there. For this reason I consider Catania as the start point for this road trip to Southeastern Sicily.
Road trip to Southeastern Sicily: Catania
If you land in Catania, you can’t but include this beautiful city in a road trip to Southeastern Sicily. There are many things to see in Catania, so I recommend stopping at least one night to see more attractions possible, but also to enjoy the city by-night.
Among the things that shouldn’t be missed in Catania, we find the elegant Piazza del Duomo with its famous Fountain of the Elephant (symbol of the city) in the center of this this square. There are also the Baroque Cathedral dedicated to the patron saint of the city St. Agatha, the Town Hall Palazzo degli Elefanti and the Fountain of the Amanano. A must-see in the neighborhood of Piazza del Duomo is also the Chiesa Badia di Sant’Agata, where you can go up the dome and admire a breathtaking 360-degree view over Catania.
Catania offers many attractions and it would take a whole post to quote and describe them all, so I will suggest you to see the Roman Theater, the ruins of the Greek theater, Ursino Castle, the Benedictine Monastery of San Nicolò, the Massimo Vincenzo Bellini Theater.
Among the things to do in Catania, I suggest a walk to the Villa Bellini, the most important garden of the city, a ride to Via Etnea, Catania’s shopping street, and to the Piscarìa, its famous fish market. Oh I forgot! While walking, a must-do is to eat an arancino or all the other delicious street food Catania offers!
Road trip to Southeastern Sicily: Syracuse
After visiting the beauties of Catania, let’s move southward. After a 40-minutes drive, you arrive at the second stage of this road trip to Southeastern Sicily: Syracuse. Even in this case, the city deserves at least an entire day.
The day in Syracuse begins with a visit to the Archaeological Park of Neapolis. Here you can see with your own eyes the ancient origins of the city of Syracuse. Inside the park, you find the quarries, which are caves used in the past as prisons. The most famous one is the Ear of Dionysus, a cave made by the tyrant of Syracuse Dionysus with a particular form to listen to the speeches of the enemies who were imprisoned in it. But certainly the most famous attraction of the Archaeological Park of Syracuse is the Greek Theater, which dates back to the 5th century BC and is still used today in the summer for classical Greek shows. The are also Roman evidences, in fact the park also houses a Roman Amphitheater, dug into a hill.
After visiting the archaeological park, let’s explore the historic center of Syracuse. It is located on an island connected to the mainland by two bridges. This island is called Ortigia and is a place that fascinates its visitors with its maze of narrow streets that characterizes it.
Of course, Ortigia Island is not only narrow and quaint streets, but here all the main attractions of Syracuse are located. We find in fact the most elegant Piazza Duomo, which I recommend to see even in the evening, the Fontain of Arethusa, the Fountain of Diana, the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, just to name a few of the attractions of Syracuse.
Road trip to Southeastern Sicily: Noto and its surroundings
After a day spent in Syracuse, we keep on driving southward. Our next destination is about thirty kilometers far from Syracuse.
Noto is famous for its baroque and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002, along with other late-baroque cities of the Val di Noto region.
As soon as you arrive in Noto, you are welcomed by the Porta Reale (Royal Gate), through which you enter the main street of the town, Corso Vittorio Emanuele III. Walking through the entire street, you’ll meet all the main monuments (religious and otherwise) of Noto. Among them, you’ll find the Cathedral of San Nicolò, Palazzo Ducezio (seat of the town hall), Palazzo Nicolaci with its famous baroque balconies, the Church of San Carlo al Corso and so on.
After having seen the baroque beauties of Noto, it is time to get in your car and drive to the coast. Between Noto and Marzamemi, it is possible to visit the wildlife Oasis of Vendicari, where in addition to the tuna-fishing building, there are the most beautiful beaches of the Ionian coast of Southeastern Sicily: Eloro, Marianelli, Calamosche, Vendicari and San Lorenzo.
Last stop of this day is Marzamemi, a fishing village that has now become one of the main tourist attractions and one of the most instagrammable places of Southeastern Sicily.
Road trip to Southeastern Sicily: Modica
Let’s get in the car and continue our road trip to Southeastern Sicily, moving to the province of Ragusa. Coming from Noto, the first stop is Modica (my town). With the three stops in the province of Ragusa included in this road trip to Southeastern Sicily, the journey continues among the late-baroque towns declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 2002.
You can start the tour in Modica from its upper area, more precisely from the Church and cloister of Saint Mary of Jesus. This dating back to the 15th century cloister is one of the very few buildings which resisted almost intact to the disastrous earthquake in 1693. Not far from the cloister you find St. John’s Church. Going up on its bell tower, you will find yourself at the highest point of the town. Continuing on, you find one of the panoramic spots of the town, which is called Pizzo, from where you can enjoy a fantasic view over the lower part of the historic center of Modica.
Going down the lower part of Modica, you can visit the two cathedrals of the town, dedicated to Saint George and Saint Peter, both in Baroque style; you can also walk along Corso Umberto I among shops, bars and restaurants. An obligatory stop is the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, home of the renowned Chocolate of Modica. Here you can taste this particular type of chocolate, offered in various flavors.
After having filled up with chocolate of Modica, it’s time to say goodbye to Modica from its panoramic spot of the Eastern Quarter, which gives you a postcard landscape of the town.
Road trip to Southeastern Sicily: Scicli
Scicli is at about ten minutes drive from Modica and even here the baroque style is everywhere. There are lots of churches to visit, one more beautiful than the other. Don’t miss the ones dedicated to Saint Theresa, Saint Michael the Archangel, St. John the Evangelist, Madonna delle Milizie (Our Lady of the Militia), Saint Bartholomew. If you like walking, you can also go up the Saint Matthew’s Hill, where the same-name abandoned church is located and from where you can admire a splendid panorama from above over Scicli. The Baroque palaces are also worth visiting, first of all Palazzo Beneventano. Oh I forgot! You can also visit the office of Inspector Montalbano, inside the town hall.
If you want to see other locations of the TV series “Inspector Montalbano”, you can move by car to the coast. In Sampieri you will find the Fornace Penna and continuing beyond Marina di Ragusa, you will arrive at the house of Inspector Montalbano in Punta Secca.
Road trip to Southeastern Sicily: Ragusa
I suggest you to drive on the old Modica – Ragusa state road to reach Ragusa. When you arrive in Ragusa, you will be welcomed by a beautiful view of Ragusa Ibla, the historic center of the city declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002.
We start this tour in Ragusa from St. John the Baptist’s Cathedral, and then start walking down towards Ragusa Ibla. Of course you can also do it by car, but on foot you have the chance to see unique views and walk through the narrow streets of the old town. You get to the church of Santa Maria delle Scale (Our Lady of the Stairs in English), where you can admire one of the most photographed views of Ragusa. From there, take the stairs that are right next to the church (hence its name) and begin to descend following the signs leading to St. George’s Cathedral. Along the way, in a maze of narrow streets and stairs, there are various churches and palaces. The highlight of Ragusa Ibla is undoubtedly its main square: Piazza Duomo. Here you can see St. Georges’s Cathedral, another example of the late-Baroque style that distinguishes this area of Sicily.
Continuing to descend the square and taking Corso XXV Aprile, you arrive at the wonderful Giardino Ibleo, where there are three churches and a panoramic terrace that offers a spectacular view of the Iblean landscape.
Organizing a road trip to Southeastern Sicily
The one above is the itinerary designed for a road trip to Southeastern Sicily. It covers three Sicilian provinces (Catania, Syracuse and Ragusa) and is designed for not driving for long distances, so as to optimize the time and be able to see as many attractions as possible.
If you organize a trip like this, you have to keep in mind how many days you have at your disposal, the budget and even how much you want to walk and drive. One thing to do soon after booking the flights is to think about car rentals and accommodations.
Organizing a road trip to Southeastern Sicily: car rental
Using the public transport (buses and trains) in Sicily isn’t really the best option, because travel times are considerably longer than when traveling by car.
As far as the car rental is concerned, I would like to introduce you to the Easyterra.it portal. It is a website that compares the prices of car rental service providers, looking for the most advantageous solutions at the time of research. Easyterra collaborates with both the main car rental suppliers (Europcar, Hertz, Avis and Budget, just to name a few) and with local car rental suppliers, in order to offer customers a complete overview of the most convenient car hire solutions.
By entering where you want to collect the car and the collection and delivery dates, the website will give you various price options for the same vehicle. In my opinion, the “worry-free” option is the most convenient one because, although it is more expensive than the “budget”, it offers coverage of the deductible (so we can rest assured in case of damage to the vehicle), unlimited mileage (fundamental for a road trip), fair fuel policy (withdrawing the car with a full tank and returning it with a full tank) and a car provided by a car rental service provider with good reviews from customers.
Organizing a road trip to Southeastern Sicily: accommodation
The choice of accommodation for this road trip to Southeastern Sicily depends on your personal needs, your budget and how long you want to stop in the different stages. There are options for all budgets and needs, from hotels to b&b, to farms. This last option allows you to get even more in touch with local tastes and traditions, for example by trying the typical cuisine prepared with raw materials at 0 km.
For the itinerary proposed above, I suggest to stop at least 1-2 nights in Catania, as many in Syracuse, one in Noto (to be able to visit the surroundings), a couple of nights in a town at your choice among Modica, Scicli and Ragusa (given the proximity between them, it is OK to choose one of the three locations as a base). Of course, these are just suggestions, you will then be able to establish everything according to your interests.
If you are looking for other ideas for a trip to Sicily, click here .
Article written in collaboration with Easyterra