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Oliveri was originally the name of both of the castle and the hamlet (the hamlet no doubt originally developed around the castle) that are situated on a low hill not far from the beaches of the Tyrrhenian Sea and dominated by the promontory of Tindari.
The village, which was quite a centre of activity 1000 years ago, is now very quiet - but not non-existent as most guide books for Sicily or Italy might have you believe and there are a few sites of interest in Oliveri and nearby!
Brief history of Oliveri
During the Arab period the settlement at nearby Tindari had fallen into a serious decline, so the inhabitants moved to the area of "Olivere" which was particularly fertile and rich in olive groves.
Idrisi, an Arabic geographer writing during the realm of Norman King Roger the I, tells us that there was a castle, a market for trading local products, a harbour and a tunny-fishing area here, and also a public baths (evidence of an active social-life in 11th century Oliveri). Nowadays, we have only scant remains of these structures. See also Oliveri and etymology for more detailed information.
Until the 19th and early 20th century the economy in Oliveri was based on fishing. Today the town is better known as a tourist destination because of the seaside and local landscapes which developed as the fishing industy fell into decline.
Explore Oliveri: tourism and highlights
The main attractions of Oliveri follow the shores of “Marinello" which is a natural sea bay with easy access.
The fortress on the rocky outcrop here is thought to be of Arab-Norman origin, and to have originally been built to control the coastal areas and to defend the Oliveri fishing fleet, which was very active at the time of Roger II. Even in the 11th century Al Idrisi wrote that 'Oliveri was a beautiful and spacious hamlet, with its seaside castle'.
Coastal castles like that of Oliveri were not built from fear of external invasions. These castles, built or strengthened in the Norman period, simply expressed the power of the Normans who controlled the territory (F. Maurici).
The Old Town of Oliveri is centred around Piazza Dante, with the parish Church of Saint Joseph. As the sea became less productive the town turned to tourism and the fishing area has now become a tourist complex where craftsmen are dedicated to building boats and processing agricultural and fish products. Oliveri now has many hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and campsites
In and around Oliveri
The natural beauties of Oliveri are concentrated along the coast. The Lido di Marinella between Tindari and Capo Milazzo is part of the 'Lakes of Marinello Reserve', recently established because of the natural environment, which together with Lake Ganzirri is an example of a salty coastal environment in north-eastern Sicily. The lakes of the reserve are an ideal habitat for the nesting of several species of bird including kestrels, ravens, the rare peregrine falcon, and the herring gull.
The area around Oliveri is one of the the most important historical, artistic and cultural areas of Sicily, with sights including the Villa Romana in Patti; the ancient Tyndaris with its vast archaeological area; and the shrine of the Black Virgin.
The sanctuary of Oliveri, which stands a few kilometers to the east, together with the Marinello lakes, forms a unique environment that is well worth a visit - enhanced by the local fresh seafood enjoyed in the hot Sicilian summer which offers a perfect end to your days here.
Where is Oliveri?
Oliveri is a few kilometres south-east of Tindari on the coast of north-east Sicily.
You can find more local travel ideas in the sicily guide.