SAMBUCA DI SICILIA
The Most Beautiful Village in Sicily
46km from Verdura Resort
With Renaissance palaces, Baroque churches and a romantic 19th-century theatre, it’s little wonder Sambuca di Sicilia is often dubbed ‘The Most Beautiful Village in Sicily’. Perched upon the slopes of a hill in the Belice Valley, the charming enclave bursts with Arabesque charm. Spend the afternoon meandering around Sambuca di Sicilia’s ancient Saracen alleys, bask in the beauty of the striking Church of St. Caterina d’Alessandria and be sure to taste the local cheese, vastedda, from the Belice Valley.
SANTA MARGHERITA DI BELICE
A literary inspiration
41km from Verdura Resort
Just half an hour’s drive from Verdura Resort, the enchanting 16th-century town of Santa Margherita di Belice exudes Sicilian grandeur. The elegant Gattopardo Villa is home to striking fountains and a mesmerising garden, while the Palazzo Filangeri di Cutò served as the inspiration for author Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel Il Gattopardo. Recent archaeological digs revealed Roman, Greek and Byzantine findings, making Santa Margherita di Belice ripe for discovery. Step back in time at the Museum of Memory in the remains of the village’s ancient Mother Church.
THE VALLEY OF THE TEMPLES, AGRIGENTO
A UNESCO World Heritage Site
50km from Verdura Resort
“The most beautiful city inhabited by mortals” is what legendary Greek poet Pindar wrote as he recalled his adopted city Akragas, now Agrigento. Founded in 581 BC, the vast Valley of the Temples at Agrigento boasts immaculately preserved Doric temples surrounded by leafy almond trees and centuries-old olive groves. It’s a captivating archaeological site that immerses you in ancient Greek civilisation. From Asclepius to Zeus, each commanding temple is dedicated to the gods, their striking pillars piercing blue Sicilian skies. For history lovers, The Valley of the Temples is a must-visit.
A Roman masterpiece
150km from Verdura Resort
Ancient Roman mosaics. Pretty palazzos. A giant Baroque cathedral. Piazza Armerina holds centuries worth of Sicilian secrets. Emerging proudly from a hilltop in southern Sicily, the striking town invites discovery. Its crowning glory is Villa Romana del Casale, a former Roman hunting lodge that’s home to exquisitely preserved mosaics depicting everything from daily life to dramatic mythological scenes. Perhaps most famous of all are the scenes of women exercising in the earliest-known ‘bikinis’. Once you’ve basked in the majesty of the villa, take time to stroll around Piazza Armerina’s smart 18th-century Duomo and Palazzo Trigona, formerly owned by Sicily’s powerful Trigona family.
A marvel on a mountain
20km from Verdura Resort
Framed by three dizzying peaks, Monte San Pellegrino, Monte Castello and the Gogàla cliff, Caltabellotta is a scenic medieval town, blessed with breathtaking views across Sicily. It’s a delight to wander through the winding streets of this tiny labyrinthine enclave as well as take in the beauty of Chiesa di Sant’Agostino, which houses Antonio Ferraro’s terracotta sculpture, La Deposizione, created in 1552. Scale Caltabellotta’s heights to the ruined Norman castle where you’ll be rewarded with a panorama of 21 villages sprinkled on the horizon.
A walled wonder
120km from Verdura Resort
One of the most charming and best-preserved cities in Sicily, Erice emerges from the peak of Monte Erice, overlooking Tripani harbour. Surrounded by ancient walls on three sides, the historic commune is all cobbled streets, tiny squares and enchanting churches. The commanding Norman Castle of Venus that presides over Erice from its uppermost summit is well worth the climb. Spend a morning exploring narrow alleyways before being tempted by Erice’s famous almond biscuits and pastries stacked up in the windows of local pasticcerie.
MAZARA DEL VALLO
A vibrant coastal commune
57km from Verdura Resort
Overlooking the Strait of Sicily at the island’s westernmost tip, Mazara del Vallo is a lively port town with gorgeous Baroque architecture and great restaurants and cafés. One of Italy’s main fishing centres, Mazara del Vallo is steeped in history, founded by the Phoenicians, who used it as a stopover en route to Spain. Make time to explore Mazara del Vallo’s Casbah – an alluring Arab quarter with traditional taverns – and the atmospheric Basil Cathedral of the Santissimo Salvatore, located on the Piazza della Repubblica. Mazara del Vallo is a dynamic destination where art, ethnicity and culture collide.
A historic port of call
75km from Verdura Resort
Famed for its iconic namesake wine, Marsala is a charismatic port town soaked in antiquity. It’s where Garibaldi and his 1,000 men landed on 11th May 1860 to begin their unification of Italy. Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Carthaginians and Arabs have all left their mark here. In the heart of Marsala, the Duomo – dedicated to Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century – grandly occupies Piazza della Repubblica. Uncover Marsala’s rich maritime past by visiting the Baglio Anselmi Archaeological Museum where you’ll find a Phoenician boat from the First Punic War.
Sicily’s intoxicating capital
90km from Verdura Resort
Palermo’s history and artistic heritage make this city a world in itself. As Sicily’s capital at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Palermo’s been a melting pot of civilisations for centuries. Marvel at the scintillating mosaics of Palazzo dei Normanni, Europe’s oldest royal palace. Admire the Annunziata, Antonello da Messina’s most famous work at the opulent Palazzo Abatellis. Lose yourself in the catacombs of the Convento dei Cappuccini. At night, get carried away at the bustle of the markets, wandering around Baroque facades before enjoying a performance at Teatro Massimo, Italy’s largest opera house.
Home to carnivals and spas
10km from Verdura Resort
Tumbling down a scenic hillside, hugging Sicily’s southern coastline, Sciacca is just a 20-minute drive from Verdura Resort. Its natural thermal spas and colourful annual carnival make it an outstanding destination for a day trip. Sciacca’s historic city centre is home to 16th-century ramparts and Norman churches. Perch at a café on Piazza Angelo Scandaliato and drink in the views of the sea and the fishing port below from this charming square, before shopping for Sciacca’s famed local ceramics and handicrafts.
The footprint of the gods
80km from Verdura Resort
According to legend, Segesta was founded by the Elymians, descendants of the Trojans. Built on the slopes of Monte Barbaro in the shadow of Castellammare del Golfo, the ancient Greek temple site was one of the most important centres in the Mediterranean. Segesta’s magnificent Doric temple is one of the world’s best preserved with intact columns, while the 4,000-seat amphitheatre on Monte Barbaro’s peak slopes down towards the shimmering sea. Each summer, Greek plays – unmissable cultural spectacles – are staged here.
Archaeology on an awesome scale
35km from Verdura Resort
Built in 650 BC by the Greeks, Selinunte is the largest archaeological park in Europe. Occupying a stretch of Sicily’s south-western coast, the imposing site is dominated by seven temples, sanctuaries and mysterious caves; truly a land of myths and legends. What’s more, Selinunte is fringed with golden sandy beaches and crystal clear sea, perfect for unfurling your towel and spending an afternoon in the sun after exploring the area’s amazing ruins.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site
280km from Verdura Resort
Once upon a time, Syracuse was the largest city in the ancient world; the epicentre of historic civilisation. Today, its grandiose past endures at the Archaeological Park Neapolis with its Roman amphitheatre, the Orecchio di Dionisio ear-shaped grotto and Ara di Gerone II, a monolithic sacrificial altar to Hieron II. Located in Sicily’s south-eastern corner, facing the Ionian Sea, Syracuse invites exploration. The city’s heart is in the tiny islet of Ortigia, filled with medieval buildings, quaint trattorias and lively markets.
Europe’s tallest active volcano
250km from Verdura Resort
A Sicilian force of nature, Mount Etna steams, grumbles and occasionally emits golden jets of red-hot lava. This awe-inspiring active volcano in eastern Sicily straddles a lunar-like landscape of black sand and volcanic rock. It’s a truly majestic sight. When staying at Verdura Resort, you can enjoy a thrilling helicopter ride to the summit of Mount Etna. An expert guide will meet you at the peak and lead you around the otherworldly volcanic craters.
CASTELLO DELLA COLOMBAIA, TRAPANI
The gateway to the Egadi Islands
130km from Verdura Resort
A commanding fortress on an islet of Trapani port, Castello della Colombaia – Castle of the Dovecote – dates back to the Middle Ages. It’s proudly stood guard on Sicily’s north-western coast for centuries, defending the bustling port town of Trapani from invaders. The gateway to the Egadi Islands, Trapani enchants, in particular with its restored old town, the splendid Basilica-Sanctuary of Maria Santissima Annunziata and picturesque marina, perfect for strolling along in the evening. Be sure to sample Trapani’s excellent seafood.
Sicilian la dolce vita
270km from Verdura Resort
Overlooked by the dramatic Mount Etna and spilling across two bays, Taormina is an elegant resort town brimming with stylish boutiques and cultural hotspots. So beautiful is Taormina, Goethe once called it a “patch of paradise”. Echoes of Taormina’s past linger with a marvellous Greek theatre, 10th-century Palazzo Corvaja and 13th-century Cathedral of Saint Nicolò. Meander around Piazza Duomo’s fountain, pause with a gelato in the Duke of Cesarò gardens and shop antiques and handicrafts at Port Messina.
CALA ROSSA, FAVIGNANA
A paradisiacal beach
140km from Verdura Resort
A vivid cerulean curve of Tyrrhenian Sea, Cala Rossa is one of Sicily’s most beautiful beaches. Hidden on Sicily’s tiny neighbouring island, Favignana, the azure paradise offers invitingly tranquil waters, encircled by layers of calcarenite rock. The unique formations are quite a sight. To reach Cala Rossa, you can take a boat from Trapani to Favignana. Make a day trip out of it and spend time getting to know Favignana’s main town, which has a sleepy, old-world atmosphere. Why not rent a boat and circumnavigate the island?
A cool, cultural metropolis
270km from Verdura Resort
An ancient port city on Sicily’s eastern coastline, Catania resides at the foot of Mount Etna, its buildings made from dark, volcanic stone. The second largest city after Palermo, Catania is a cosmopolitan destination, with superlative restaurants, vibrant markets and a buzzing creative scene. Combine a visit to Mount Etna with an afternoon in Catania to experience its verdant garden squares, lively fish market and famous Elephant Fountain. Don’t leave without sampling the city’s local dish, pasta alla Norma, made with tomatoes, aubergine and ricotta.