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Scicli is a charming and rather undiscovered town with a wealth of Baroque architecture to discover. It is in the south of Sicily between Modica and the coast. It is one of the Val di Noto towns classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site for their late baroque architecture.
Scicli sits in the intersection of two valleys, the valley of San Bartolomeo and the valley of Santa Maria di Nova in a rocky hilly setting. It is quite beautiful and adds to the charm of the town.
Less visited than the other towns in the Val di Noto group it does non the less have a beautiful old centre with many Baroque buildings that were built following the huge earthquake of 1693. This was the late Baroque period in Sicily and hence the architectural style for rebuilding. Lucky for us it was a particularly beautiful style!
The key examples of the baroque architecture can be found in the churches but its influence can be seen on many of the mansions and houses in the town.
The San Matteo hill rises up from the town and Scicli's castle sits at the top of the hill commanding views of the town and countryside below.Scicli castle has in the past been used by both Arabs and Normans. The castle dates back to the 12th century though most of the current castle was built in the 13th century.
A little further down the hill is the San Matteo church. This was once the main church of the town and the residents lived near the church on the hillside giving them a defendable position. As defences became less important the town moved down the hill and is mostly in the valley below.
The main square in Scicli is the Piazza Italia and this is surrounded by fine palaces. The most elegant part of town however is the pedestrianised Via Penne which is lined with baroque houses and churches. Its outside cafes and bars make it an excellent spot to stop and admire the views.
Look out for the Palazzo Beneventano which is nearby and is the most fanciful of Scilis's baroque buildings with many faces and beasts carved into its decorative facade. Other highlights include the churches of San Bartolomeo and Santa Maria la Nova which sit in their respective valleys.
San Bartolomeo church is richly decorated and has a baroque facade. Santa Maria la Nova is built in a neo-classical style and contains some important art works.
Scilia has an interesting network of cave dwellings in the hillside near its castle including a rock church but sadly for the moment these are closed and undeveloped. Hopefully in the future these will be opened up to visits adding to the interest of Scicli to visitors.
Places to visit nearby
You can find more local travel ideas in the guide.