Before starting our tour into the Renaissance charm of Avola, let’s type these five letters into Google Maps. Incredible, isn’t it? Now we are ready to visit the hexagonal city.
Avola has a beautiful location. It overlooks the Ionian coast, halfway between Syracuse and Portopalo di Capo Passero with the Isola delle Correnti. The city is a perfect stopover to discover the late-baroque towns of the Val di Noto. The town is also the ideal destination if you want to enjoy a sun and sea holiday without renouncing the artistic discoveries.
Avola was rebuilt after an earthquake and has a perfect hexagonal geometric shape with a network of orthogonal streets inside. The two main streets are Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Corso Garibaldi.
At the junction of these streets is ‘a ciazza’, the beautiful Piazza Umberto I. Here the roads create a cross that divides the city centre into quarters. Let’s enjoy the atmosphere, perhaps sitting at a bar table, tasting an excellent granita.
The Chiesa Madre di S. Sebastiano overlooks the square. The so-called tower-like façade is similar to all the sacred buildings in the Val di Noto erected in late Baroque style after 1693.
The two main streets form a cross, and there are four more squares at each end. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the town’s churches and the main historical buildings.
Heading towards the ‘head’ of the cross, in the opposite direction to the sea, we find Piazza Vittorio Veneto. It is known as the “Piazza Tre Leoni” (Three Lions’ Square) because of the magnificent fountain in which three majestic lions are reflected. In front of it, there is also the obelisk erected to commemorate the fallen of the First World War. The Church of S. Antonio da Padova overlooks the square and has a simple and austere style.
We proceed clockwise to Piazza Regina Elena, where we visit the Church of Sant’Antonio Abate. Nearby is another jewel of Sicilian Baroque art: the Church of Santissima Annunziata or Badia. Before continuing the tour of the squares, we visit the Old Market.
The neoclassical building is full of arches. The city’s coat of arms is represented in the entablature, where there are also twelve medallions in high relief on the exterior walls. They depict products for sale in the shops. The structure was formerly built in the garden of the Benedictine Monastery and today houses the Municipal Library.
On Piazza Trieste is the Church of St John the Baptist. We cross the threshold and are left speechless. The interior is finely decorated with white and blue neoclassical elements, and above the main door is a magnificent organ, built in 1866 in neo-Gothic style and perfectly preserved.
We complete our tour with Piazza Teatro, where we find the magnificent Garibaldi Theatre. Its elegance is given by the unique honey-coloured whiteness of the Hyblean stone. Inside, we can admire the vault that rises above the horseshoe-shaped stalls, where there is a marvellous representation of the Dancing Muses by the painter Gregorio Scalia. On the square, right next to the theatre, stands the Church of Santa Venera, dedicated to the city Patron Saint.
The tour of the historic centre is over. It is time to head for the coast. Before arriving, we stop at the Almond Museum. It is surrounded by lemon trees and Nero d’Avola vines, sugar cane and almond trees. The museum tells the story of the traditions that made Avola a Sicilian pride, a place renowned throughout the world. From the prized almonds pizzuta to the Nero d’Avola, the history of this town also lies in the precious flavours of Sicily.
Avola’s beaches have emerald waters and shallow, golden seabed. Here we will find some of the best beaches equipped for children in Sicily. On the Avola coast, there are both equipped beaches and stretches of free beaches accessible to everyone. Here we can also find many small restaurants to enjoy lunches and dinners prepared with very fresh fish.
In the old fishermen’s village of Marina di Avola, you can admire the tonnara (tuna fishery), one of the many abandoned tuna fisheries that you can find from Favignana to Mondello in the area. Nearby you can visit the tuna fisheries of Vendicari, Marzamemi and Capo Passero. These places are very evocative and charming: don’t forget to take pictures!
Just a few minutes drive from the town is the Gelsomineto Oasis beach. Here peace and relaxation are guaranteed. The oasis is located within the Cavagrande del Cassibile Nature Reserve, which is one of the wonders of Sicily, both from a historical and a naturalistic point of view.
Let’s discover it following our itinerary.