The south-east of Sicily off season: miles of unspoiled sandy beaches, awe inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Sites, extravagant baroques towns, great food, excellent wines.
Sicily is the perfect getaway to help survive our long cold winter.
Being at the same latitude as the North African coast, Sicily has a mild climate. Spring starts early, covering the fields with wild flowers by the end of February and it’s possible to sunbathe and swim in the sea well into November. Frost and snow are unknown and summers are pleasantly warm and dry. What more could you ask for?
The lively town of Marina di Ragusa on the southern coast is a perfect travel-friendly haven. Beautiful beaches, blue sea, mountains, volcanoes, fascinating and intriguing culture itineraries and the best culinary traditions mark this part of the island.
Restaurants spill onto the beach side promenade, palm trees line the streets and a beautiful harbor marina hosts a community of visitors from all over the world who overwinter aboard their boats.
A visit to the coffee shop could have you sipping a cappuccino among a crowd of the locals, Brits, Americans, Kiwis, French and Dutch, all gathered to enjoy the warm winter sun. The area around the marina is an especially English-friendly part of town.
This is the territory of excellent products and genuine flavours. Those who turn their nose up at the view of the town’s green houses will change their mind after sampling the delicious veggies and fruits growing here: each season offers plenty of tasty culinary treats.
Touring a farmers market and discovering the local producers is a cultural initiative. It reconnects any visitor to the traditions of the centuries-old culinary knowledge handed down in the family from grandmothers to mothers.
I am happy to be here, eating naturally and appreciating the zero-mile meals prepared with crisp cherry tomatoes, fresh artichokes, juicy oranges and savory herbs from the garden.
While the coast offers seafood delicacies, the land just behind the beaches is ideal for vegetables, oil and fruit. The inland’s beautiful countryside at the foot of the Hiblean mountains is the area of Sicilian cheeses, of Ragusano Dop and of fresh tempting ricotta—the main ingredient of cannoli, the best-known Sicilian pastry.
Venturing to this coastal locale is very easy: Comiso Airport is a twenty-minute drive and the city of Catania is only 136 km away. As for golfing fanatics, Donnafugata Golf Club Resort is only 13 km from town.
Marina di Ragusa is also a perfect starting point for exploring the enchanting Sicilian towns of Syracuse, Catania, Enna, Caltagirone and Noto, all of which have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
A little over one hundred kilometers from town is Agrigento, the location of the magnificent Valley of the Temples, one of of Sicily’s most famous historical attractions.
The stunning Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina–only 90 km inland–is home to some of the best preserved Roman mosaics, spreading over 3500 square meters. Also the same distance away is Syracuse, once the most important city of the Magna Graecia (“Great Greece”, the ancient Greek colonies in Italy ).
That’s why Marina di Ragusa will now be my home base for all my East Sicily adventures.
Day Trips from Marina di Ragusa:
The Temples Valley Agrigento: 130 km/80 mi (consider at least 2 hours for the visit) http://www.valleyofthetemples.com/
Villa Romana del Casale Piazza Armerina: 90 km/60 mi (consider at least 1 1/2 hours for the visit). Better to book in advance (+39 3389515245). Ask for guide Maria Grazia (fluent in English, German and Italian). http://www.villaromanadelcasale.it/
Donnafugata Golf Resort & SPA: 13km/8 mi
Via Mongibello, 2 97100 Ragusa Tel. +39 0932 914200
Written by Luisa Castiglioni
Edited by Amay Smith
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