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Located on the coast of south-west Sicily, the town of Realmonte is best known as a coastal resort because there are several very fine beaches close to hand, and also the impressive cliff scenery that provides a backdrop to several of the beaches - the beaches at Siculiana Marina and Scala dei Turchi are excellent beaches near Realmonte.
The Scala dei Turchi (Turkish staircase) beach is one of the best beaches on Sicily and certainly ranks amongst the best in Italy. The small beach leads to wonderful blue and turquoise waters and behind it is a dazzling wall of white limestone.
The sea has eroded the limestone into a sort of natural staircase that you can climb up to get fabulous views over the sea, beach and cliffs. Be warned however it does get very crowded in July and August.
The Gelonardo beach has cliffs made of gypsum crystals which gleam in the sunlight and the Pergole beach is also popular.
In the cliffs at Costabianca an open air theatre has been carved out and every year theatrical productions are performed here.
But there is much more to Realmonte than the sea, and if you can tear yourself away from the beach there is a lot to discover in Realmonte itself and the surrounding region. Within the town there is little that predates the 17th century - but you should be aware that the region has been inhabited since the early stone age, with remains of Australopithecus Africanus, a predecessor of homo sapiens and traces of 'pebble culture' dating back almost 3/4 million years found in the vicinity - among the oldest in Europe, from the time when primitive man was first starting to learn that stones could be fashioned into tools.
A second important historical building is a Roman villa uncovered near the town and dating from the 1st century AD. The villa includes an impressive roman floor mosaic in black and white tiles showing Neptune riding a dolphin and also a fight between Scylla and Charybdis. The quality of the mosaics and the presence of a heated pool in the villa at Realmonte suggest that it belonged to a wealthy nobleman of the time. The layout of the rooms within the villa has also been exposed and some of the other rooms also feature mosaics. The wall around the villa stretched to the seashore, much as an exclusive seaside villa might do today.
Near Realmonte there is a huge underground salt mine with kilometers of tunnels whose walls have incredible black and white patterns on them formed by the layers of salt deposits and erosions. As well as this natural display miners have carved a cathedral into the salt tunnels with an altar, a crucifix and frescoes. If you get the chance be sure to visit. Places however are extremely limited as it is still a working salt mine. Usually the mine is opened once a month for 30 people. Contact the mine owners for a chance to visit.
Places to Visit Nearby
Need more history? Perhaps the site of the roman town of Erbesso, very active during the First Punic War might be on your schedule (the Erbesso lighthouse now stands where the city once stood).
After all that history, return to the beach near Realmonte - perhaps the one at Scal dei Turchi and a chance to see a 16th century tower before enjoying the 'rock staircase' that leads you back to the sea...