The delightful, historic town of Ispica in the south of Sicily is often missed out on the traditional tourist route… but do not underestimate its appeal! As with many of the captivating southern Sicilian towns, Ispica has a wealth of Baroque architecture. You’ll see wonderful examples in the cathedrals and churches perched on characteristic piazzas. Sit and watch the world go by while enjoying an espresso or an aperitivo at one of the many bars and restaurants - a key part of Sicilian life.
Standing on a hill, Ispica is surrounded by a stunning natural park and archaeological attractions. The town is also just a short drive from the marvellous beaches of Marispica, the nearby coastal region. With wide expanses of sand and dunes, as well as the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean, Ispica offers something for everyone.
As you’ll find all over Sicily, Ispica has a fresh food market where you can stock up on BBQ supplies. You'll find a few shops and local markets, as well as larger supermarkets. The region is also famed for its wealth of succulent Pachino tomatoes that you must try!
Wandering around Ispica, you’ll find a plethora of bars and restaurants in all the piazzas and in front of the beautiful, historic churches. Expect a laid-back, local vibe with classic pizza and pasta dishes, as well as delicious cannoli and granita for dessert! Nearby, the bustling port town of Pozallo has some seafront eateries where you can enjoy lunch or dinner with a sea view. Or you could try Portopalo di Capo Passero, a small beach resort with seaside cafes and restaurants. The pretty coastal town of Marzamemi is also around 30 minute's drive from Ispica. Dine alfresco in the colourful central square, Piazza Regina Margherita, where the walls are draped in vines and bright plant pots.
The wild sand dunes of Marispica slope down to a long stretch of sandy coastline. Four of the beaches in this area have been awarded the much coveted Blue Flag status. There are a couple of lidos that offer bar and restaurant facilities, and of course sunbed hire. All along this stretch that includes Santa Maria del Focallo Beach, you will find walking trails among the dunes ideal for a sunset stroll. There are plenty more beaches to explore along the coast. Many are rugged and with no facilities, such as Punta Cirica Beach, an unusual and striking series of semi-circular bays.
Take a trip to the Vendicari Nature Reserve. This area of natural beauty has wonderful walks and is known as a bird sanctuary where you might be lucky enough to spot flamingos! There are walking trails and rugged, unspoiled beaches of golden sand. Facilities are limited so why not pack a picnic and make a day of it?
Modica, around 35 minutes' drive from Ispica, is famous for the art of chocolate production. There are shops, museums and souvenirs dedicated to the delicious treat! Children may like to climb on board the little train that runs through the streets to learn about chocolate. You can also visit the oldest chocolate shop in Sicily here, where you can take a behind the scenes tour and of course, tuck into all the goodies.
The area around Ispica is famous for its caves and gorges. Known as the Parco della Forza and housing the Cava d’Ispica, there are an amazing number of burial chambers or catacombs to explore. History buffs may like to join a guided tour which often incorporates historic churches such as Santa Maria and San Nicola in Ispica.
The UNESCO protected Baroque towns of Modica, Scicli and Noto are all reachable in approximately 35 minutes’ driving. Each has their own unique charm, from the grand, honey tinted buildings of Noto to the winding staircases of Modica. Fans of the Inspector Montalbano detective series will love Scicli, which is prominently used as a filming location for the show. You can scale the steps up to the church of San Matteo perched high above the town for magnificent views