AVOLA, AN OPEN-AIR MUSEUM
Laghetti di Avola
Laghetti di Avola
Avola is situated in the South of Syracuse, in an extraordinary landscape, between the golden beaches of the Ionian Sea and the green valleys of the Iblei Mountains. The favourable climate has allowed to cultivate excellent quality food, such as lemons, almonds, vines and honey. Thanks to their unmistakable flavor, Mandorla Pizzuta (an almond variety which is perfect oval in size, as Leonardo Sciascia wrote), and Nero d'Avola wine (originated from the homonymous vine dating back the late 15th century) enjoy international recognition and are well-know all over the world.
The today's city has been rebuilt on the huge plains overlooking the sea, about eight kilometers away from the old settlement, that was destroyed by the earthquake of 1693. The old Avola city was founded by the Sicani in the seventeenth century B.C. On the top of Aquilone Mount there are still the ruins of the Castle, built during the Aragonese reign and enlarged by the Normans, which became one of the most important fortresses in Sicily, thanks to its impregnable position controlling the whole southern area of the present province of Syracuse.
The urban layout of the today’s Avola, with its hexagon shape, was designed by the Jesuit engineer and architect Angelo Italia, and reflects a typical Renaissance city. At the center of an imaginary cross, at whose ends other minor squares stand, there is the large square Piazza Umberto I with the eighteenth-century Mother Church dedicated to Saint Nicola from Bari (with its tower façade in which three architectural orders are superimposed), the former Ducal Palace with the Clock Tower (1865); the Civic Museum (of the mid-nineteenth century) and Palazzo Sutri, of which the imposing eighteenth-century portal still remain. The city preserves many civic and religious buildings in the Baroque style, so it is considered as an "open-air museum".
In Avola it is possible to admire the spectacular nature reserves of Vendicari and Cavagrande del Cassibile. The Oasis of Vendicari is a real uncontaminated paradise, with its fully intact ecosystem which still remains intact over the centuries and where every year thousands of migratory birds find rest before migrating to Africa. In this oasis, there are the Sveva Tower and the Tonnara, still working until the beginning of the twentieth century.
The Cavagrande del Cassibile reserve preserves a remarkable naturalistic and archaeological heritage, with a vast Necropolis dating back to between 1000 and 800 B.C. which, after Pantalica, represents the largest tomb complex of Sicilian civilization on the island, with about two thousand artificial grotto tombs. It is crossed by the river Cassibile, from which its name comes, that digged deep canyons over the millennia. Do not miss a cool bath in the fascinating waterfalls and small lakes Laghetti at the valley bottom of the reserve.
On the coast between Noto and Pachino, at the mouth of the river Tellaro, it lies the ancient Greek city of Eloro, dating back to the VIII-VII century B.C., which had the strategic function of defending the southern area of Syracuse. There are also visible remains of walls and fortifications from the fifth century B.C., with square towers, and traces of the ancient Via Elorina, with the streets grooved by the wheels of the wagons.
Among the cultural treasures of this area, you can not miss a visit to the Villa del Tellaro, a jewel of Roman architecture, dating back the late Imperial era (4th century AD), with its precious mosaics that stand out for their depth, pictorial meaning and chromatic exuberance.