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Visiting Sicily's Stunning Scicli

Updated on January 15, 2017
bdegiulio profile image

Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures, experiences, and makes the world a better, more tolerant place.

Church of St. Ignatius

Church of St. Ignatius
Church of St. Ignatius | Source

Before wrapping up my tour of Sicily I would be remiss if I did not share with you our visit to the beautiful Baroque community of Scicli (pronounced Shi-Kli). Located in a gorge just a few miles from some of the most beautiful beaches in Sicily, this beautiful town is renowned for its wonderful Baroque architecture and stunning churches.

Tracing its origins back to 1500 BC, Scicli certainly has a long and storied history. Like much of Sicily this community has changed hands numerous times over the centuries having been controlled at one time or another by the Greeks, Arabs, and Normans to name a few, before becoming part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1860.

Scicli

Scicli
Scicli | Source

Like many other communities here in the Val di Noto of southeastern Sicily, Scicli was totally destroyed by the devastating earthquake of 1693. Due to the popularity of the Baroque architecture at the time, many of these cities were rebuilt in this Baroque style. What this means for the visitor of today is an opportunity to visit a stunningly beautiful community constructed with the unique and flamboyant flair of a time that has passed us by. You will certainly enjoy your visit to Scicli.

Church of San Matteo

Church of San matteo
Church of San matteo | Source

What most visitors instinctively want to know when visiting a new region is what is there to see and do? Here in Scicli, wandering the streets and alleys is your reward for deciding to visit. There are a number of churches, palaces, and piazzas worth visiting and you will stumble onto most of them as you walk Scicli’s streets. Of particular interest is the abandoned Church of San Matteo, which is perched high on a hill overlooking the town. While the trek up may seem daunting it is worth every step as you will be greeted with the most amazing view of Scicli from this unique perspective. Along the way you will pass by some caves chiseled into the rock, known as the Chiarafura caves. These were dug out of the hills surrounding Scicli and were at one time inhabited. As recently as the 1950s the poor of the community used these caves for shelter.

Interior of San Matteo
Interior of San Matteo | Source

The church of San Matteo was at one time the mother church of Scicli up until about 1874. A peek inside through its massive front doors reveals a church that looks in remarkably good condition despite its years of neglect and abandonment.

While you’re up here rest for a bit and take in the scenery out over the town from this bird eye view, it truly is a spectacle setting.

The view from the climb to San Matteo.
The view from the climb to San Matteo. | Source

When back down in town be sure to visit the church of San Bartolomeo. This church dates back to the early 15th century and if you remember the year of the earthquake you will quickly realize that this church must have survived the catastrophic event, which it did. Its façade, seen here below was renovated in the late 18th century as the Baroque style was transitioning to the neo-classical architecture. Of all the churches in Scicli, San Bartolomeo has the most ornate interior with a number of notable works of art by Mattia Preti and Francesco Cassarino among others.

Church of San Bartolomeo

Church of San Bartolomeo
Church of San Bartolomeo | Source

In addition to a number of churches there is also the Palazzo Fava, which is the largest palace of Baroque architecture in town. The Palazzo Spadaro, which is the Town Hall and the Palazzo Beneventano, built in the 17th century and certainly one of the most beautiful palaces in Sicily are also wonderful examples of the Baroque architecture.

Palazzo Beneventano

Palazzo Beneventano, notice the balconies.
Palazzo Beneventano, notice the balconies. | Source

The community also enjoys a number of annual events, which if you happen to time your visit correctly will just add to the local flavor and culture of Scicli. The month of May brings the annual La Madonna a Cavallo festival, which celebrates the town’s liberation from the hands of the Arabs. Easter is also a joyous time to be in Scicli as the celebration of Cristo Risorto (Risen Christ) takes place with the statue of Christ being carried through town on the shoulders of its residents.

We were so enamored with Scicli that we returned here twice during our visit to south-eastern Sicily. We had dinner one evening in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable as we dined outside at the Ristorante QuoreMatto, located in a small piazza with the church of San Michele the Arcangelo looming over us. It made for the perfect Sicilian setting.

Dinner in the Shadow of San Michele

Church of San Michele the Arcangelo
Church of San Michele the Arcangelo | Source

Getting There

The nearest airport to Scicli is in Catania and there is daily bus service that connects the airport to Scicli with the AST bus company. The trip takes about two and a half hours. The AST buses connect most of the towns in this region of Sicily and Scicli is only about 10 kms from Modica. Scicli can also be reached by train (trenitalia) as it is on the rail line connecting Siracusa and Ragusa.

We used a rental car to get around while here, which certainly provides a certain degree of freedom and flexibility but be aware that once you get off of the autostrada the roads can get very narrow. Certainly utilize a GPS if you opt to drive. The most direct route from both Catania and Siracusa is to take the A18 autostrada south to Ispica and then follow SS115 toward Scicli.

The view up to San Matteo
The view up to San Matteo | Source

This corner of Sicily has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since its inscription on June 26, 2002. There are eight towns here in south-eastern Sicily that are included under the heading of “Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto”. Some of the other towns included with Scicli are Modica, Ragusa and Noto. All were devastated by the 1693 earthquake and rebuilt in the late Baroque style.

If you are planning a visit to this corner of Sicily I would suggest a visit to as many of these towns as your time allows. They are all unique in their own right yet all are splendid examples of the late Baroque architecture, which has presumably brought you to this corner of the world. If time limits you I would suggest Noto and Scicli to visit. They are smaller and easier to maneuver around than the larger Ragusa and Modica, and have just as much to offer. In addition they give you more of a small town feeling and both communities can certainly be seen in a day. I hope you enjoyed this visit to Scicli and the beautiful Val di Noto.

Ciao for now.

Scicli
Scicli | Source
show route and directions
A markerCatania, Sicily -
Catania Province of Catania, Italy
get directions

B markerSyracuse, Sicily -
Syracuse, Province of Syracuse, Italy
get directions

C markerScicli, Sicily -
97018 Scicli Province of Ragusa, Italy
get directions

A markerScicli, Sicily -
97018 Scicli Province of Ragusa, Italy
get directions

© 2013 Bill De Giulio

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    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Blackspaniel1. Oh yes, the Greeks settled in Sicily around 750 BC and there is a very noticeable Greek presence there. Many of the great temples on Sicily were built by the Greeks. Thanks for visiting, have a great day.

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 2 years ago

      Beautiful images. I am assuming the Greek coin meant Sicily was once either a trading partner of Greece or a part of Greece. That is what came up on one Ebay module.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Elisha. Thank you. I do feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to visit Sicily. It really is a beautiful place and worthy of a visit. Hopefully you get there someday. Thanks so much for stopping by, have a great day.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi rajan. It is a rocky, hilly piece of property that they built Scicli on. The town is actually built in a gorge and surrounded by the rocky hills that you see. Very beautiful town and they have done a good job of introducing greenery into the community. Thanks for the share , pin , etc. Have a great day.

    • Elisha Jachetti profile image

      Elisha Jachetti 3 years ago

      Your pictures are gorgeous. I really would like to travel there some day. You are very lucky to have had this experience.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Hi Bill, Scicli is a beautiful place to visit and I love the Baroque style of architecture. Your pictures are stunning and complement your descriptions to a T. The town seems to be built on a hilly tract of land. Good to see greenery intermix with the concrete structures.

      Voted up and beautiful. Sharing and pinning as well.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi brownella. Lucky you to be off to Italy this fall. You will love it. And if you like old churches you are going to the right place. Enjoy. Ciao!

    • brownella profile image

      brownella 3 years ago from New England

      Beautifully written and informative. I am planning a trip to Italy this fall and am hoping to get to see at least a little of Sicily so this list will come in handy, especially as I have a weakness for old churches. Thanks for sharing :)

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Sheila. It really is like a whole different world over there. The architecture is something that is just not found over here. Thanks so much for visiting Scicli and the vote, share, etc... Have a great day.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      This is just a wonderful hub! Your pictures and descriptions are awesome. I just love the Baroque architecture, you know these people created these beautiful, ornate buildings with pride and love. Our architecture of today is nothing in comparison. I would love to visit here someday! Voting up, beautiful, useful, interesting and sharing! :)

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi ologsinquito. It's not at all commercialized. It really is the authentic deal. The towns that get commercialized are the ones that we've all heard of. These small Baroque towns that most people have never heard of are really authentic and quaint. Thanks so much for the visit, have a great weekend.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi ologsinquito. It's not at all commercialized. It really is the authentic deal. The towns that get commercialized are the ones that we've all heard of. These small Baroque towns that most people have never heard of are really authentic and quaint. Thanks so much for the visit, have a great weekend.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Candy. Hope you get there someday soon. It really is a beautiful corner of the world. Have a great day.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Peggy. Not many folks here are familiar with Scicli. It's sometimes gets overlooked by Ragusa , Syracusa, and some of the other wonderful towns in Sicily. We liked it because it's smaller and easier to get around. Thanks so much for the pin to your Italy board and for the share, etc.. Have a great weekend.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Glimmer Twin. I appreciate the nice comments and support. Who knows what the future holds, I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to make the trips that we've taken so far. Have a wonderful weekend.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi traderjim. You are correct, we have yet to visit Puglia but we'll get there some day :) I'll stop by to read your hubs on the area, thank you. And thanks for stopping by, have a great day.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      It does look beautiful and not too commercialized, from what the photos showed.

    • hugsnstitches profile image

      Candy H. 3 years ago from Yakima, WA

      This article has made me want to visit Sicily! Hopefully I can persuade my husband someday. Great pictures too.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      What a gorgeous place Scicli is in Sicily. I had never heard of this town prior to reading this wonderful hub. Your photos as always are great. If I never make it there at least you have given me an inside look. UUBI votes and sharing. Going to start an Italy board on Pinterest and putting this hub there. :)

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

      I am just waiting for your travel book to come out. I don't even know what to say that I have not said before. Your photos are beautiful and you cover all the great spots to visit. Shared around.

    • traderjim profile image

      traderjim 3 years ago

      It is a great place to visit.

      BTW it seems you have never been in my region, Puglia. (I've written a few hubs about it). :)

      I think it deserves a stay as well.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi FlourishAnyway. Thank you. Scicli was one of those gems that make you want to return. Just a beautiful little corner of the world. Thanks so much for the visit, have a great day.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Beautiful architecture and some of your photos are truly stunning. No wonder you returned to this beautiful place.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thank you Kathryn. Glad you enjoyed the visit to Scicli and thank you for the very kind comments. I do feel blessed to have had the opportunity to visit Sicily. We are already thinking about our next adventure :) Hope you had a great weekend.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Mary. Your comments brought a smile to my face :) Thank you. This whole writing about my travels really has taken a hold of me. Ever time I go somewhere all I can think about is how to write a hub about it. My thanks again for your wonderful support, comments, votes, etc... Hope you are having a great weekend.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Suzie. When you get to Italy I'm sure you'll venture over to Sicily and you'll love it. There is so much to discover and the history and architecture really are amazing. The climb up to San Matteo was worth every step.

      Thanks again Suzie, your support is always appreciated and never taken for granted. Have a wonderful day.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Mike. Thanks for stopping by, it was beautiful. The history in this corner of Scicli is amazing. Glad you enjoyed the tour. Have a great day.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Joe. Boy did we struggle some of the names of these towns :) Luckily our host where we stayed schooled us in the proper pronunciation.

      Sadly I do not speak fluent Italian, I really should learn more. I know just enough to get by and sometimes be dangerous. And yes, Sicily have it's own dialect. One of our friends who traveled with us speaks pretty good Italian and no one in Sicily could understand him?

      Thanks so much Joe. Hopefully you're having a great weekend also.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Alicia. I very much appreciate the kinds words. In some of these old Sicilian towns the architecture is just something that we do not see here in North America. We really found it fascinating. Many thanks, have a great day.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Pam. That is exactly the way to best enjoy these small towns, by wandering their streets. You just never know what's around the next bend. It really is a beautiful and unique corner of Sicily. Thanks so much for the visit.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Matt. This corner of Sicily is often overlooked yet is beautiful had has a number of wonderful Baroque towns worth visiting. Keep it on your list! Thanks so much for the visit and kind words.

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      This is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing some of the history of this place, as well as the beautiful photos and the list of "places to see". If I ever venture out of the US, I will check your page to see if you have written about wherever I go. You're a great travel writer!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      I want an amazing button! Amazing for the town of Scicli and amazing for this wonderfully amazing hub. You are the best tour guide with all the information you give us, but I have to say I like your photos the best. You truly capture any place you visit!

      I'm with Billybuc, time to write a travel guide!!!

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 3 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Bill,

      Many thanks for such a wonderful trip around Scicli and your photos are stunning! Love the view to San Matteo, so typical of hilltop villages in Italy. The baroque architecture is amazing and when you consider the workmanship required it really is to be admired and respected. Thanks Bill for this and all your Sicily articles which have proved to me it is a must for us when in the south! Votes, shares and pinned to Italy!

    • Mike Robbers profile image

      Mike Robbers 3 years ago from London

      Another great place to visit in Sicily and an incredible photo tour as well. Scicli seems very beautiful, with such a rich history and influenced by so many civilizations in the past.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 3 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Bill, I'm glad you included the proper pronunciation because I was "all over the map" in my attempts to give the city's name a decent utterance. As with your other Italian tour guide hubs, you've done a remarkable job combining good, solid writing with a feast of lovely photographs. Do you speak fluent Italian, Bill? If you do, does Sicily have a different dialect? Thanks for a stellar hub, my friend! Aloha, and have a great weekend!

      Joe

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is another enjoyable look at Italy, Bill. I love the fact that you show us interesting architecture as well as beautiful views. Thank you once again for sharing your lovely photos and information that is both interesting and useful.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

      I would love to wander the streets of Scilily. What beautiful photos. It looks so beautiful and I love all the ancient history. I really enjoyed this hub. Awesome!

    • Iammattdoran profile image

      Matt Doran 3 years ago from Manchester, UK

      Great hub, bdegiulio! This is somewhere I've been wanting to go for years. I doubt I'll get there for a few more years yet but one day... This hub gives me such food for thought though and just makes me want to get away - the best kind of travel writing! Good stuff

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi srsddn. Thank you. We really enjoyed Scicli and you are right, our trip would have been incomplete without visiting this beautiful site. Glad you enjoyed the tour. Thank you for the vote. Have a great weekend.

    • srsddn profile image

      srsddn 3 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

      bdegiulio, Your Sicily venture would really have been incomplete without Scicli (Good that it is pronounced differently). There is so much history to dig out and learn a lot. Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience of yours. Voted up. Have a nice time.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Joelle. Dinner that night in front of the church of San Michele was really something special. Thanks so much for the visit and kind comments. Have a great weekend.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      What a fantastic place to visit! I can feel the warmth! I can see my husband and I having dinner near the Church of San Michele the Arcangelo and listen to some Italian music!

      Thanks for making me dream. Your pictures are fantastic!

      Have a fantastic weekend!

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Bill. I do think this one is the final chapter for Sicily, pretty much covered everywhere we went. Feels good. Thanks so much for the support and encouraging words. Have a great weekend

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      And yet another chapter of your future guidebook has been written. Well done as always. How does it feel to know you have already written books about travel even if they haven't been published yet? Very cool indeed.

      Have a great weekend my friend.

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