ODP Adventures - Noto, Sicily Guide
What do you do when good friends invite you to their Agriturismo in Sicily but you are waaaay behind schedule in shooting images for the upcoming SS campaign? You book the next flight and combine the two! Who doesn’t like to mix a bit of business and pleasure anyway?
Then you remember your good friend and photographer, Salvatore Sportato, is also in Sicily the same weekend and is able to round up a troupe on the turn of a dime, and you know it’s all part of that fashion-world destiny (like that time when I sat on a plane next to Neal Preston and convinced him to shoot my FW16 photoshoot... but that's another story to read here).
It was a weekend full of all the things I love best: good food, friends, and creativity under the sun!
As a Texas girl, I felt right at home with the abundance of cacti and the sprawling fields and landscapes, but I was awestruck at the majestic beauty of the Baroque architecture at the turn of every corner. We definitely don't have that in Texas!
The majority of the shoot took place near Vendicari, a nature reserve on the southeast coast, yet the area is within day-trip visits to Ortigia, Noto, and Scicli.
Below are a few of my suggestions for a visit to the eastern part of Sicily:
Where to stay:
Terre di Vendicari : With only 4 double rooms and full staff to cater to your every need, you will really feel like you stepped into paradise. Lose yourself among the lemon and olive groves, take a swim in the pool, or visit the stunning nature reserve of the Vendicari Oasis, where at sunset you can view hundreds of flamingos as they take flight.
Grab a bite:
In Ortigia: Monzu Piazza Minerva 6, just a few steps from the Piazza Duomo.
In Noto: Manna Via Rocco Pirri 19. The stunning decor, designed by Gordon Guillaumier, is both modern and nostalgic, which matches nicely with the menu which is a mix of classic Sicilian with a modern twist. After dinner, a passeggiata through the main street is obligatory, and stop for a granita at the historic Caffe Sicilia (Corso Vittorio Emanuele, 125).
In Scicli: Baqqala, Piazza Ficili. When you just want that raw authentic Italian feel, this is the place to go. This charming little restaurant is brings a little bit of the past into the present. A blackboard outside the restaurant depicts the character of the restaurant: "don't ask for the wi-fi password, please enjoy the company of others". With this absence of Wi-Fi and focus on good food, it gives you a real sense of Italian life.
The fishing village of Marzamemi. This picturesque town is a treat to visit all year round, but particularly during the summer when the beautiful Piazza Regina Margherita is turned into the core of an International Film Festival. The films here are projected onto the buildings in the piazza, giving that real authentic al fresco feel. Dine at La Cialoma and enjoy the fresh catch of the day.
Ceramic Moro heads, which you will see all over Sicily and have become a traditional symbol of the island. The legend behind these ceramic heads originates back to the Moors' domination of Sicily in the XI century. A Moor merchant fell in love with a young girl who was on her balcony taking care of her flowers and plants. They fell in love but when the girl discovered the merchant had a wife and children back in his own country, the girl was filled with jealously. In a bid the keep him with her forever, one night the girl cut off his head and decided to use it to grow her basil in. The plant flourished, and passers by became jealous of how her plant was growing that they began making their own pots in the shape of a head in the hope of having the same success.
When in Marzamemi, visit Campisi, in Via Marzamemi 12, a family-run company steeped deep in traditional methods of fish processing and history. The Tuna products and tomato sauces are definitely their specialities, but I also highly recommend the ‘carciofini’ (artichokes) which are preserved in oil yet still slightly crunchy and with just enough spice. Don’t worry though, this tasteful experience doesn’t have to end in Marzamemi: they ship internationally so you can always have a piece of delicious Sicily with you.
Clockwise from left: St. Bartolomeo Church in Scicli; tomatoes from Pachino; the view from the Terre di Vendicari agriturismo; Baroque architecture detail in Noto.
Top photo: Piazza Duomo in Ortigia