Enough of the beach
Leisure activities in the southeast
Sicily is Italy’s largest wine-growing region and there are a few very good wineries in Noto and the surrounding area which you can visit. Here are a few examples:
An offspring of the family that administers the Catello di Fonterutoli, Filippo Mazzei belongs to Italy’s most prominent vincers. Having always been in love with Sicily, Mazzei combed the island on his search for an estate, which would fulfil his dreams. Firstly, he had to be able to produce wines. More importantly, however, was that the place had to have a feelgood factor. In the end he found the wonderful Zisola property close to Noto, which, in addition to the Alberello-grape variety, is home to an extensive citrus plantation as well as a captivating manor. Gambero Rosso 2011
Felice Modica – Bufalefi winery
Excellent wines. A small Trattoria belonging to the winery lies opposite the Palazzo Nicolaci in Noto.
The Planeta family is an old Sicilian family, which only started producing wines twenty years ago despite beeing agriculturally active since the 15th century. One of ist six wineries, Buonvini, is situated near to Noto. Their wines can be found in all good wine stores.
Feudo Ramaddini, Pachino/Marzamemi
This winery also produces excellent wines. Opened wines can be bought here relatively cheaply.
Feudo Rudini, Pachino/Marzamemi
Rudini’s wines can be bought in some of Noto’s shops as an open wine or in 3 or 5-liter tubes. Excellent value for money.
Diving, surfing and boat rental
There are a few oppurtunities between Syracuse and Marina di Ragusa for renting out boats as well as for diving and surfing. Since keeping information regarding these activities up-to-date is very elaborate, we ask you to let us know about your exact wishes when booking a holiday home. We’ll then send you more recent information.
It’s taken us a while to think of which activities to recommend for your children and have decided to concentrate on just a few.
There are enough of the best things for children: Sun, sea, nature and the best ice cream in the world.
We can, however, also recommend the following activities.
Buccheri Adventure Park
Even without going up to the crater, an Etna-tour for children is a great experience. You can drive up with the car to the Rifugio Sapienza station, which lies at 2000 m. Just the drive up and a walk by the station are worth the while. Contrasts between the dark lava rock, ranging from shades of dark red to black, green moss and the occasional flower create a unique atmosphere. A cable car then brings you up to 2600 m, from where you would normally continue by jeep and by foot. Depending on a child’s age, an ascent to the summit is also possible. The whole journey to the peak costs around €60 per person though.
Puppet theatre (also for the child in the adult)
Sicilian puppet theatre (in Italian: Teatri die pupi or Opera die pupi) uses elaborately made puppets to tell stories from the Middle Ages and belongs to local popular art. Big towns such as Syracuse (La Compagnia die Pupari) and Acireale, north of Catania (Teatro Pupi Macri), are home to the these theatres; alone Palermo has five to boast about. Traditional plays talk about events surrounding Charlemagne and his councellors or about Roger II of Sicily. As always, there are good and evil characters and brave knights in shining armour fighting against scoundrels. Just as young princes and wise kings belong to the story, so do the beautiful princess and the innocent maid.
A barrel organ placed in front of the tiny stage accompanies the storytelling. The puppets, which are made by hand and adorned with extremely elaborate details, can weigh up to 20 kg and measure up to 150 cm. At the height of puppeteering on Sicily, artists contented to make the nicest and most imaginative puppets.
If you can’t think of anything else and want to make your children the happiest on earth, there’s always Etnaland. Sicily’s biggest leisure park lies between Catania and Paterno.
There’s an incredible number of nice, old theatres in Sicily, where events are still very popular. The most famous theatres are probably the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania and the Teatro Massimo in Palermo. It’s also worth going to the Teatro Biondi, Palermo’s second home of theatre and to the Teatro Sangiorgio in Catania. The Teatro Vittorio Emmanule in Noto is a small and intimate house, which gives off a sense of beeing stuck in time. The open-light theatres in Taormina and Syracuse, where operas, concerts and festivals take place, are spectacular places to visit. A Greek theatre festival, during which original pieces of Greek theatre take to the stage, takes place in May and June.
Sicily is in itself a big open-air museum. It’s actually incredible how many historically important relics just lie around and aren’t protected and marketed.
Museo Regionale Archeologico in Syracuse
The museum is Sicily’s biggest and houses findings of the island’s south-eastern prehistoric as well as Greek and Roman past. Alone the findings originating from Syracuse could fill up several museums. The pride of the museums’s collection are the “Venus Landolina” and an archaic kouros, a limestone statue of a young man.
Museo Archeologico Regionale in Agrigent
Archeological findings from ancient Akragas and the early history of inner Sicily’s peoples‘ culture are exhibited here. One of the halls houses a 7.75 m-high model of a Telamon-statue, of which the original can be seen at the Zeus-tempel. The romanesque San Nicola monastery church, in which a sarcophagus depicting the tragic love-story between Phaedra and her stepson Hippolytus can be seen, is also part of the museum.
Galleria d’Arte moderna
Home to art from the period between 1800 and 1900, back when Palermo for a decade or two honed the reputation of being a culture-metropole with some grand – mostly Sicilian – artists, who were eventually forgotten. Around four hundred works from the Classic, Romantic, Period of Promoterism, Art Nouveau and Neo-liberalism periods have all found a home in the beautifully restored Santa Anna alla Kalsa monastery.
Galleria Regionale della Sicilia
Situated in the gothic-catalan Palazzo Abatelli, the museum tells the story of Sicily’s artistic past and includes busts of Eleonora of Aragon, created by Francesco Laurana, Antonello Gagini’s sculpture of a young boy’s head and several panel paintings including Antonello da Messina’s “Virgin Annunciate”.
Museo Tegionale Pepoli
Housed in the former Santuario dell’Annunziata-Monastery, the museum is one of the most important for Sicily’s medieval and modern art. It owns a work from Antonello Gagini and a painting from Tizian. Worked gold articles, carved coral as well as vases and tiles made of majolica give ample evidence of trapanese masters’ abilities.
Cycling in Sicily
Most areas now have bike and scooter rentals. However, they are relatively expensive compared to rental cars.
A mountain bike costs around 60 € for 3 days, around 120 € for a week
A racing bike costs around 60 € for 3 days, around 120 € a week
A touring bike costs around 45 € for 3 days and around 85 € for a week
A city bike costs around 45 € for 3 days, around 85 € for a week
An e-bike costs around 65 € for 3 days, around 130 € for a week
You can rent scooters from € 30 a day. The price of course varies depending on the season and duration of the rental. If you are interested in renting a bike, we can e.g. recommend the provider Ciclofree. The bicycles are delivered directly to the holiday home. www.ciclofree.it
Here we would like to refer you to the sizilien-rad.de website. The operators are really very professional and, like us, are among the first Sicily specialists.
Every part of Sicily is suitable for a hike. The problem, however, is not the lack of routes but rather the weather. There’s just no fun in plodding away in heats of 40°C in the shade. The best time of year to go hiking in are April, May and as of September. The sight of Sicily blossoming in the spring is a true spectacle and can also be helpful when signs usually showing the way have gone missing.
Since we only knew the Ricotta sold in German supermarkets, we never understood why so many dishes in Sicily are made using this ingredient. That changed almost as soon as we visited the island for the first time. Our meals in the first few months consisted of Cornetti di Ricotta for breakfast, Ravioli die Ricotta in the evening and warm Ricotta straight from the farm on Sundays. Granted, the latter in itself doesn’t offer an incredible culinary experience. It does, however, become a whole new thing when spread on a piece of bread and enjoyed with a sip of red wine.
There is a riding stable very close to Noto. Excursions for children and adults are offered here. The ride lasts 1-1.5 hours. Children and adults pay € 25 per ride.
If you are interested, please let us know. You have to book the excursion at least 2 days in advance.