A brief guide to Marzamemi, Sicily

Some places are almost too cute for words. Marzamemi, Sicily, just outside of Noto, is one of these places.

A quaint scene winks at you from every corner. Sun-soaked stone buildings ring a brilliant piazza. Bright green vines, stems, and cactuses climb the walls, showing off their boldly colored buds and blooms. Tiny tables are occupied by happy coffee-sippers and gelato-eaters. The sound of the sea whispers to you on the wind. Small fishing boats bob gently on the water, just a stone’s throw from the main piazza.

Want to experience these sights and sounds for yourself? Read on for all you need to know about visiting Marzamemi and the nearby beach at Riserva di Vendicari.

Marzamemi just might be the cutest fishing village in all of Sicily. Check out this post for pictures and details on the logistics of getting to Marzamemi and what to check out on your visit. Bonus tips on a nearby beach included!
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Visiting Marzamemi and La Riserva di Vendicari

The history of Marzamemi

Located just down the road from La Riserva di Vendicari, a national park with a fabulous beach spot (discussed below), the village of Marzamemi grew around its famous tonnara, which refers to both a system of nets for catching tuna, as well as to the building where the tuna was processed.

The Arabs who ruled Sicily from 902 to 1061 built the tonnara, and then it was sold to a local prince in the 1600s. The tonnara stands today, but is no longer used for its original purpose. Despite this, the village is still known for producing seafood delicacies, such as smoked, canned, and dried fish.

Parking in Marzamemi

Marzamemi was quiet on the day we visited. There are a few parking lots. We chose one close to the water. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a website, but there’s another parking lot that does. It’s called Parcheggio Marzamemi Centro.

After parking, we made our way to the hub of the village, Piazza Regina Margherita.

Piazza Regina Margherita in Marzamemi, Sicily
Piazza Regina Margherita. The tonnara is all the way on the right.

Exploring the village

We had a coffee and then decided to explore some of the little streets off of the piazza. 

Small side street in Marzamemi, Sicily
Towards the sea

The sunlight bleaches out the beige buildings and grayish stones on the floor of the piazza, but there are little pops of color everywhere.

Flower pot hanging on a stone wall in Marzamemi, Sicily
Simply stunning

The Churches in Piazza Regina Margherita

There are two churches in the piazza, which are both dedicated to the same religious figure, San Francesco di Paola, the patron saint of Marzamemi.

The new church was built under Pope Pius Xi, who was pope from 1846 – 1878.

The old church is part of the architectural complex of the tonnara, and is also referred to as La Chiesa della Tonnara, or the Church of the Tonnara. It is connected to the main building of the tonnara by an arch. Unfortunately, it was severely damaged during the Second World War, and has been deconsecrated. It’s closed to the public due to the fact that is it not structurally sound.

L'antica chiesa di San Francesco di Paola in Marzamemi, Sicily
L’antica chiesa di San Francesco di Paola

The market

If you pass under the archway that connects the old church to the tonnara, you’ll enter a little market where you can buy souvenirs, beach necessities, and other stuff.

The small market off of Piazza Regina Margherita

The Port

At the end of the market, you’ll be at the water. The little port is full of nets and fishing boats, which still go out daily.

Fishing boat in Marzamemi, Sicily
This fisherman must have taken the day off
Marzamemi, Sicily
Looking back at the village from the little harbor

After a gelato, we made our way back towards the car, stopping here and there for a snap or two.

House in Marzamemi, Sicily

Basket shop in Marzamemi, Sicily


La Riserva di Vendicari

We stocked up on some water at a roadside stand and then hopped into the car to head to our second stop of the day: La Riserva di Vendicari. A friend had recommended it to us when we told him we’d be going to Sicily. I’m so glad he did, because we probably wouldn’t have found it otherwise!

Driving to La Riserva from Marzamemi

From Marzamemi, we took the Strada Provinciale (SP) 85 to SP 19, and arrived at the Riserva about 15 minutes later. The entrance is well indicated.

Parking in La Riserva di Vendicari

There was ample parking inside, along with a few stands for buying snacks, drinks, and fruit.

Walking to Calamosche beach

The walk to Calamosche beach is a little over a kilometer. It’s hot and I wished I had worn sneakers instead of sandals, but it’s not terrible.

Entrance to the Riserva di Vendicari in Sicily
Entrance to the Riserva di Vendicari

The sweaty walk was worth it, and we enjoyed a lovely afternoon of swimming and relaxing in the sun.

Calamosche beach, Riserva di Vendicari, Sicily
Calamosche beach

Marzamemi and the Riserva di Vendicari are easily doable as a day trip from Noto. Don’t miss them if you’re in the area!

Marzamemi just might be the cutest fishing village in all of Sicily. Check out this post for pictures and details on the logistics of getting to Marzamemi and what to check out on your visit. Bonus tips on a nearby beach included!
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Have you visited either of these places? Share your experiences in the comments!

I consulted this and this while writing this post.

More Sicily guides and posts

The Catania Fish Market and Osteria Antica Marina

Exploring Catania: A walking tour and other tips

Visiting Mount Etna

Breakfast at Caffè Sicilia in Noto

Visiting Taormina’s Greek Amphitheater and Isola Bella 

A walking tour of Ortigia Island

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