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.
Table of Contents
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.
Exploring the village
We had a coffee and then decided to explore some of the little streets off of the piazza.
The sunlight bleaches out the beige buildings and grayish stones on the floor of the piazza, but there are little pops of color everywhere.
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.
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.
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.
After a gelato, we made our way back towards the car, stopping here and there for a snap or two.
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.
The sweaty walk was worth it, and we enjoyed a lovely afternoon of swimming and relaxing in the sun.
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!
Have you visited either of these places? Share your experiences in the comments!
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