Scicli travel guide and tourism

Photo of Scicli

Visit Scicli (Sicily, Italy )

The peculiarity - and attraction - of Scicli is largely due to its setting and the surrounding natural environment. As well as several beaches and resorts on the coast to the south-west the town is also at the intersection of the valleys of San Bartolomeo and Santa Maria La Nova, known as the "Cave" with the rocky hills of San Matteo, Rosario and of the Croce nearby.

As one of the towns in the area severely damaged by an earthquake in 1693 and rebuilt in baroque style, it also forms part of the Val di Noto World Heritage Site.

Explore Scicli: tourism and travel

Beach near ScicliFor lovers of sun and sea, it is the coast and beaches just south-west of Scicli that will be the principal attraction here. The coast of Scicli is the largest in the whole province of Ragusa and it extends from Pozzallo to Marina di Ragusa, with several seaside resorts nearby such as Sampieri, Costa Carro, Cava d'Aliga, Donnalucata and Playa Grande.

Assuming you want a diversion from the beach we suggest you take the time to explore the old center of Scicli, near the hill of San Matteo. After the earthquake that devastated much of the region in 1693 the rebuilt town kept its original medieval layout while the new monasteries and convents were built with typical baroque opulence and paid for by the local nobility, in the early 18th century.

This Baroque style is evident everywhere in Scicli, not only in the civil and religious buildings, but also in its details. The Baroque style is also sometimes accompanied by the Neoclassical style.

The most impressive examples of Baroque architecture in Scicli are found in the religious architecture, in part because many aristocratic palaces were lost as a result of urban renovation carried out between the 19th and 20th centuries. As a result many of the highlights we mention below are the churches in the town,  although we start with the castle and a little history.

Scicli castle

The first development at Scicli was around the 'Castello dei tre cantoni' at the top of San Matteo hill. The Castello dei tre Cantoni is actually composed of two separate fortifications, the Castelluccio higher up and the Castellaccio at a lower level.

This was a defensive structure that, over the centuries, was enlarged and used first by the Arabs, then by the Normans and then later as a military outpost of the County of Modica. The current castle is dated to the 13th century although studies date its origins to the first half of the 12th century.

The Castle has a triangular tower, while to the north-east stands a large wall terminating in a quadrangular tower. The reason for having an unusual triangular tower is unknown, but thought to be symbolic (possibly related to the three points of Sicily itself) rather than a military function. See also Scicli history and etymology.

Churches in Scicli

In the valley below Scicli castle the most interesting religious buildings are the churches of San Bartolomeo and Santa Maria La Nova, so we review these in some detail below.

Church of San Bartolomeo

Baroque style church in Scicli

The interior of the Church of San Bartolomeo is the most richly decorated in the city in terms of works of art. Worthy of mention is the "Deposition" by Mattia Preti (1613-1699) in the left transept. In front of the painting by Mattia Preti, in the north transept, there is a crib scene which is one the most important  of Sicily.

The origins of the church date back at least to the 15th century, and it does not seem to have been seriously damaged in the earthquake of 1693. The façade is a document of  the transition from the late Baroque to the Neo-classical architecture: the façade was started at the end of the 18th century by Antonio Salvatore Mazza then redesigned by Salvatore D’Ali (19th century) and concluded in the third order only in 1815 by P. Ventura. In 1822 the wrought iron gate by S. D’Ali was added.

The church interior has a single nave and a Latin cross plan. On either side of the entrance  there are marble tombs built  by Francesco Lucchese (17th century). Among the paintings we mention the Immaculate Conception with Saints Bartholomew and William, by  Francesco Cassarino (1582-1637), located in the south transept near the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows. Also notable is the altarpiece of 'the Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew' by Francesco Pascucci (1748-1803).

Church of Santa Maria la Nova

The Church of Santa Maria La Nova has multiple 'characters' because of the complexity around its constrution. The interior has three naves and it is in an eclectic Neo-classical style. Note particularly the wooden sculpture of the "Risen Christ" attributed to F. Pastore (18th century).

The church has a façade with three orders divided into three sections by pilasters. The original project was by Giuseppe Venanzio Marvuglia (1729-1814) with changes during the 18th and 19th centuries. In the apse note the large painting depicting the "Nativity of Mary", attributable to Sebastiano Conca [1680-1764] (or to Tommaso  Pollace [1748-1831]). Another notable painting is the "Virgin of Mercy".

In the vault there are five paintings by G. Di Stefano (19th century), depicting scenes from the life of Christ, the “Adoration of the Shepherds”, “Presentation of Jesus in the temple”, “Jesus among the doctors”, and “Christ and the holy women.”

Other Scicli highlights

Among the civil (non-religious) buildings, the Palazzo Beneventano is among the most interesting, and certainly stands out for the inventiveness of the balconies with the bizarre grotesques.

For gourmets the traditional cuisine of Scicli offers fresh and semi-mature cheeses, and a speciality called “pasta ’ncasciata.”

Where is Scicli?

The town of Scicli is found in south-east Sicily, a short distance south of the towns of Ragusa and Modica.

See also:

Map of Scicli sightseeing & popular sights

Address: Scicli, Sicily, Italy || GPS: latitude 36.783333, longitude 14.7

Selected places to visit near Scicli, Italy

See the Sicily guide for more travel ideas...