Italian Islands
South West Sicily





Almost within sight of the North African coast, South West Sicily, is a great destination because it has varied and sought-after leisure and learning possibilities. The south coast alternates with craggy cliffs and long, sheltered sandy beaches, like Porto Palo, Capo San Marco, and Siculiana Marina. The hinterland boasts rolling hills and verdant valleys and is lush, unspoilt and sparsely populated. The Valley of Temples and Eraclea Minoa either side of Agrigento and both in a panoramic natural setting, display a wealth of archaeological treasures from the classical world. The prettiest time to visit both attractions is the spring when the land is bedecked with colourful wild flowers and almond blossoms. Although this region cannot boast its own active volcano, like Etna, just outside Sciacca is Monte San Calogero, which vents sulphurous vapours from within its volcanic core. Since ancient times, people have been coming to Sciacca for the health-giving properties of these vapours and for the therapy of the thermal baths. Why not give them a go – many other spa treatments are on offer too. This region also contains the Pelagian Islands of Lampedusa, Linosa and the uninhabited Lampione, connected to the Sicilian mainland by boat from Porto Empedocle – interestingly the South of Lampedusa is slightly closer to Africa than it is to Sicily!

Porto Empedocle Porto Palo Menfi Sambuca di Sicilia Sciacca Eradea Minoa Caltabellotta Ribera Raffadali Siculiana Agrigento Canicatti Palma di Montechiaro Marina di Palma Licata Caltanissetta Linosa Lampione Lampedusa Pantelleria The Pelagians Sicily
Porto Palo

Porto Palo is a small harbour village founded on fishing that is just starting to be recognised as a quiet, relaxing, beach holiday resort, with long sandy, sun-trapping and mainly south-facing beaches, the majority of which, especially near the harbour, have a convenient supply of bars and restaurants. The long interest in this seaside spot can be dated by the prominent Norman tower on the hillside. The surrounding countryside is beautiful with flourishing vineyards which produce Porto Palo wine, and also Menfi’s desirable Mandra Rossa varieties. The Belice nature reserve extends from Selinunte to Porto Palo bordering the beach and providing enchanting walks. Given its easy access and proximity to Selinunte, 4 km away to the town of Menfi, or eastwards through farm landscapes to Sciacca, a large popular port and spa town, Porto Palo is a good location for a Mediterranean holiday experience.

Sciacca

Sciacca, an Arabic name of uncertain meaning, recalls its formative development under Arab rule, adding to the stamp of Roman influence. Its earliest coordinated colonisation was in the Hellenistic period when it became an outpost of Selinunte whose inhabitants frequented its thermal baths, which the Romans later called Thermae Selinuntinae. Sulphurous gas still spouts out of vents (‘Stufi di San Calogero’) at the peak of the prominent volcanic mountain, Monte San Calogero, which is almost 400m (1,312 ft) high and six kilometres north of the city, reached by an ascending winding road. The mountain’s peak, near the Sanctuary of San Calogero, is a viewpoint that offers a dramatic panoramic sweep of the city, the blue Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Sciacca, below. Although surrounded by modern buildings, Sciacca has a charming old town, fashionable boutiques, ceramic shops and a cafe-strewn main square. The port is a lively area of activity where fresh fish can be purchased from the local fisherman every evening. A pleasant place to walk is in the pretty 19th century gardens featuring tropical plants, or along the palm-lined avenue above the cliffs, or you can take a dip in one of the many therapeutic thermal pools or have a mud bath! Sciacca is well endowed with superb beaches (especially San Marco and Torre Macauda), historical Baroque and Gothic-Renaissance styled churches, including the Church of the Carmine, Church of Santa Margherita, and buildings like the San Salvatore and San Calogero Gates. Add to these features the various celebratory festivals and the famous Carnevale, and it is clear that this seaside town is truly packed with amenities and attractions for everyone.

Siculiana Marina & Raffadali

Siculiana Marina is a pleasant small resort by a lovely beach with golden sands and clear waters. There is an excellent restaurant specialising in fish and seafood, and there are a few other places for dining out too. The small winding road that connects Siculiana to Raffadali (roughly 17.5 km distance) is extremely panoramic through untouched countryside. The landscapes around Raffadali are of undulating hills and valleys with fields of grazing sheep. The town itself has two excellent and renowned pasticcerie specialising in Sicilian pastries, cakes and ice creams. Although there is not a great deal to do here it is well equipped with amenities and the main square is very attractive with plenty of benches set out for admiring the view. It is well located for visiting the vibrant town of Agrigento and the impressive Valley of Temples. Neither place is far from the archaeological site of Eraclea Minoa and the spa town of Sciacca is approximately half an hour’s drive.

Agrigento

Originally known as Akragas and founded around 582 B.C. by colonists from Gela, before its name was changed to Agrigentum by the Romans, Agrigento is in a panoramic natural setting on a plateau overlooking the Southern coastline and the famous Valley of Temples. The latter is particularly picturesque in the Spring when the almond trees are in bloom and butterflies flit about. It is an internationally renowned archaeological, architectural and artistic town. It was the birthplace of the ancient philosopher Empedocles and the more recent Novel prize-winning playwright and novelist Pirandello, whose house is now a museum. The medieval centre of the town is interesting too with its Romanesque gothic cathedral. At sunset, the townsfolk meet to wander up and down the main street, Via Atenea. Agrigento’s port, Porto Empedocle, is the link for ferries to the Pelagian islands of Lampedusa and Linosa. One of the best beach resorts in the South, around 20 minutes drive away is Siculiana Marina.

Property Rentals in South West Sicily
(HOLIDAY VILLAS, APARTMENTS, COTTAGES, RESIDENCES + HOTELS)
Villa Mediterranea - Porto Palo di Menfi, Sicily
Sleeps: 6 (4/5 + 2) Bedrooms: 3 Bathrooms: 2 Beach: 150m Village centre: 1.2km
Air conditioning Satellite TV Washing machine Barbecue Garden
Villetta Margherita - Sciacca, Sicily
Sleeps: 2+2 Bedrooms: 1 Bathrooms: 2 Beach: 5 mins (car) Village centre: 2km
Sea view Garden Terrace Barbecue Washing machine
Casa Pietrarossa - Raffadali, Sicily
Sleeps: 4 Bedrooms: 2 Bathrooms: 1 Beach: 17.5km Town: 4km
Pool Stables Courtyard Barbecue Terrace
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