Sciacca, Sicily

© Hans R van der Woude –

A medium sized town of more than 40 000, Sciacca is one of Sicily’s top tourist destinations.

In Agrigento province and not far from the Valle dei Templi, Sciacca is a seaside town with an interesting history and culture and many urban and natural attractions.

Time has stood still in Sciacca’s town centre. Laid out like an amphitheatre around the port, the vibrant centre of the town, its narrow and picturesque streets are full of early twentieth century houses. A visit to Sciacca should follow its old walls – still largely intact and imposingly thick – which were built in medieval and renaissance times and take you through the many monuments of this beautiful, old city -the Steripinto, built by the Spanish in Catalan style, the visible ruins of fourteenth century Castello di Luna, the medieval churches of San Nicolò and the cathedral – the former with its original Norman structure, the latter rebuilt in baroque style in the modern era.

An interesting time of year to visit Sciacca is February and the beginning of March to take part in the town’s carnival and enjoy its mild winter climate. It is a festival which dates back to the ancient Roman Saturnalia starting from the Peppe Nappa local mask which lasts from Maundy Thursday to Sunday with floats in procession, street parties and the bonfire of Peppe’s cart at the end. All this is accompanied by the aromas of barbecued sausages being sold along the town’s streets.

And it’s not lacking in natural attractions either. Mt. San Calogero and its nature reserve is behind the town and its famous olive groves, and the well known Castello Incantato guarded by hundred of heads carved into rocks or tree trunks in particular, are a great place for walkers.

Two recommendations for beaches on this varied and attractive coast of moderately high cliffs and endless bays: Capo S.Marco and Sovareto’s beach, both of which are sandy and popular and a few kilometres from the centre with clear, blue seas.