Following the bluefin tuna on their route from Syracuse to Capo Passero
How can we follow the bluefin tuna on their journey? We bet you thought it immediately while reading the headline! On this tour, we’ll discover the routes bluefish tuna takes around Sicily. We will also visit the places where, in past centuries, the “mattanza” ( the last phase of tuna fishing), took place.
We can follow the last stages, from the mainland, of this journey. Breathtaking views, Caribbean beaches, old seaside villages. It will seem as if you can still hear the cialoma, the ancient song of Sicilian fishermen. Are you ready? So let’s go travelling!
From April to June, bluefin tuna lay their eggs, that’s why they come into the Mediterranean Sea, attracted by the warmth of its waters. Over the centuries, man has learned about the habits of tuna and he has organised his fishing activity.
The first places where tuna arrive from the Atlantic are in the northern part of Sicily. Once here they were fished and put into the tonnara (the tuna fishery). Between June and August, the tuna migration proceed down to the south-east, before returning to the cold ocean waters.
On this journey from Messina to the Atlantic, the first tuna fishery was the Tonnara di Terrauzza, in Syracuse. Today only a few ruins of the 18th-century building remain, but the landscape is very suggestive (not to mention the crystal-clear waters where you can swim).
Further south there is the tonnara di Avola, well preserved and home to a little sailing club. Avola is famous for its almonds known as ‘pizzuta‘ and its wine: Nero d’Avola. The tonnara is set in the old village of Marina d’Avola, known for its beaches and its restaurants and pubs.
We continue our journey further south. The next tuna fishery is one of those places that should be seen at least once in a lifetime: the Tonnara Vendicari. To get there, we have to enter the Vendicari Reserve. As we walk through the Mediterranean scrub, we will first come across some wetlands, known as “ pantani” (marshes), where we can admire lots of migratory birds. Let’s go ahead and we will see stone pillars standing out over a crystal-clear blue sea: that’s the tuna fishery. We can reach it, walk around it and take pictures. In summer we can also relax with a refreshing swim in the unspoilt waters of the Reserve.
A few kilometres away we come to the most important tonnara in the south-eastern area: the one of Marzamemi, a wonderful fishing village where time seems to have stood still. Its core is Piazza Regina Margherita, overlooked by the manor house and the ancient little church built in sandstone. Don’t miss the Arab courtyard and the fishermen’s houses that surround the square. Here we can taste and buy tuna by-products: bottarga (dried tuna roe), lattumi (the male version of bottarga), tuna salami, buzzonaglia. But Marzamemi is nowadays famous also and above all for its summer nightlife. If you are hungry, thirsty or want to dance, this is the place to be!
We end our tour arriving nearly at the southernmost tip of Sicily: Portopalo di Capo Passero. The tonnara di Capo Passero is a magnificent example of industrial archaeology. Although it is closed to the public, it can still be seen from the outside. Close to the tonnara there’s the Tafuri Castle, which stands out on a strip of dry land surrounded by the sea. Take a bath and enjoy a swim in these waters that reflect the thousands of colours of the seabed. If you love snorkelling, you have come to the right place.