Here we are in Marzamemi, a place with an incredible history that leaves everyone speechless! I advise you to stay glued to the screen because I’m about to reveal what to see in and around this amazing Sicilian town!
The magnificent fishing village of Marzamemi is located in eastern Sicily and is a hamlet of Pachino, in the province of Syracuse. Famous for its centuries-old history linked to fishermen and farmers, Marzamemi comes from an Arabic word meaning “Roda delle Tortore” (Rode of the Turtle doves), precisely because of the massive presence of these birds in spring.
In this peaceful town, you are immediately taken into a magical atmosphere of breathtaking scenery, incredible sea and stone-crushing sunshine, in contact with the extremely simple and serene lifestyle of its inhabitants. We are in Sicily, so what more could you ask for?
Here you will taste some of the tastiest bottarga (tuna roe) and ventresca (tuna belly) you have ever eaten. You’ll appreciate a land famous for its Pachino tomatoes PGI and the magnificent Nero d’Avola wine, known throughout the Italian peninsula by people with a fine palate.
Suitable for a carefree and relaxing holiday, you will immediately fall in love with Marzamemi, its typical fishermen’s houses and the famous Tonnara, one of the oldest Tuna factories in Sicily.
I don’t want to wait even a second longer, now I’ll tell you in detail what to see in this small village of just under 400 inhabitants!
What to see in Marzamemi? Here are our best tips!
The town can be visited in a very short time. That’s all it takes to have a fantastic experience! Here’s what to see in Marzamemi among the main attractions.
1. The Tonnara
The history of this fishing village is based on the famous Tonnara of Marzamemi. Dating back to Arab times, the tuna fishery has always been the beating heart of Marzamemi.
There were periods when there were even two slaughters a day, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, and periods when the tuna fishery was not always in operation because too much tuna was caught and could not be consumed.
Unfortunately, it has been permanently closed since 1943, because the annual average of 2,000 tuna caught was soon reduced to just a few hundred. This decrease is most likely linked to the intelligence of the tuna and their ability to change their routes in the Mediterranean Sea, once they recognised the tuna fishing areas.
It is a magnificent place where the centuries-old culture of this beautiful village revolves around. If you are wondering what to see in Marzamemi, this gem takes priority.
2. Tonnara Church
This magnificent church will thrill you... but only from the outside! Unfortunately, it is currently closed. Dedicated to the town’s patron saint, St Francis of Paola, this church was built at the behest of the Prince of Villadorata and destroyed during the Second World War.
This is why it is now being given a new life through a major restoration and renovation of the roof and floor. In the meantime, the only church that can be visited in Marzamemi is still dedicated to St Francis of Paola and is located in the same square, Piazza Regina Margherita.
Read on, because I am about to tell you about what really deserves a look in this wonderful place.
3. Church of St Francis of Paola
Here is the new version of the ancient church dedicated to St Francis of Paola! As already mentioned, it is located in the town’s most important square, Piazza Regina Margherita, which I will tell you about in a moment.
Built with sandstone in 1945, after the original church became unfit for use, this place has proved to be very important for the local population and is a source of pride for them.
4. Piazza Regina Margherita
If you don’t know what to see in Marzamemi, you should definitely stop at this square! Piazza Regina Margherita is the heart of the town, being the meeting place of the fishermen. And it is here that you can regenerate yourself with the local air.
In this very charming place, surrounded by the fishermen’s houses, you can come and dine in one of the typical restaurants and enjoy fresh local fish by candlelight in an unparalleled atmosphere.
5. Balata Marina
Here’s what to see in Marzamemi in one go! The Porticciolo della Balata is a 150-metre pier where you can easily stop your boat to get off and enjoy the little town.
It has always carried out activities related to the tuna trade, until the final closure of the Tonnara. This enchanting place is not just any old harbour. Its simplicity will amaze you, as will the fishermen’s dwellings that surround it, really beautiful little houses! And this is where the Old Factory is, if you read on I’ll tell you about it!
6. Old Factory
This enchanting place is located right on the Balata marina, and this is no coincidence! The Old Factory (in Italian, Vecchia Fabbrica) has an ancient history of producing ice, both to preserve tuna and to supply families.
In fact, the ice was put into so-called iceboxes, the true ancestor of our fridge. Do you ever think about how different life was in the past? Here is what to do in Marzamemi to see for yourself!
7. Casa Cappuccio
Casa Cappuccio, near the small port of La Balata, offers a truly enchanting view. In fact, three of its four façades overlook the crystal-clear sea of Marzamemi, as well as having a terrace on the first floor from which you can see the Balata.
This, like many other buildings, was owned by the Prince, a figure who profoundly influenced the history of this small village.
8. Villadorata Palace
Located in Piazza Regina Margherita, this imposing sandstone palace was built in 1752 at the Prince’s behest, to be used as his personal residence.
In fact, the Villadorata Palace consists of two terraces: one was used in the summer season, while the other was used by the Prince to supervise the work of the fishermen in the Tonnara warehouse.
Now you can visit it and admire its fantastic rooms with the works of art inside. And if you fancy an aperitif, the courtyard on the ground floor is the place to head for!
9. Isola Piccola
Named for its small size, this island is one of the many ideas of what to see in Marzamemi!
This little gem is located right in front of the Porticciolo della Balata, and you can reach it by swimming… but be warned to be careful because it is private property! In fact, the little red-walled villa on the small island has belonged to the Brancati family for several generations.
What to do in Marzamemi?
I have just told you about Marzamemi, but I need to tell you what there is to do in the area, so I suggest you read on. Let’s not get lost in the chatter, let’s continue with our trip!
The ideal place that will fascinate you right away… We are talking about the Vendicari Reserve, an incredible natural area where you can appreciate both freshwater and saline areas, but also beaches and juniper forests that will make you love this unspoilt nature.
You may even come across flamingos, so protected and special is this oasis! Stretching over several kilometres, the oasis includes the Sveva Tower, directly overlooking the crystal-clear sea, which today looks like the final result of many restorations over the years.
What really dominates this reserve are the ancient remains of the Tonnara of Vendicari. With ancient origins, this tuna fishery also fell into disuse during the years of the Second World War and, together with the Tonnara of Marzamemi, has become a symbol of Sicily.
The most beautiful beaches
Not sure what to see in and around Marzamemi? A swim in the sea in these unspoilt places is certainly very tempting! Most of the beaches are sandy and the best known is certainly San Lorenzo. It is wide and well-equipped in terms of facilities, but is also the least characteristic and most touristy beach.
Otherwise, I recommend Spinazza beach, a unique gem where you can go to relax with your family and get rid of negative thoughts.
I am talking about all the beaches, but I almost forgot to mention the Vendicari reserve! As I said before, it is an incredible oasis. Here you have a great choice because it is full of dream beaches, such as Eloro, where there is an ancient Roman villa full of mosaics, or Cala Mosche where you can admire the magnificent caves scattered here and there.
If you are an adventurer, you can reach the beach of the Cittadella, through rocky paths surrounded by nature.
Here’s what to see near Marzamemi, the unique beauty of Noto! This is one of Sicily’s undisputed wonders, so much so that it has been described as “the Sicilian capital of Baroque”. In fact, this small village has a centuries-old history of art and culture. Its historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in a spectacular setting of citrus groves.
Although its origins are very old, what is beautiful about this town today has to do with the reconstruction of the city following the 1693 earthquake.
In May, you can also experience the “Infiorata”, when Via Nicolaci is filled with flowers to create pure artistic images! And this city is not the only one to have this magnificent tradition: for example, Spello in Umbria is world famous for its Flower Festival.
Roman Villa of Tellaro
What to see in Marzamemi if you are a fan of ancient Rome? This villa dating back to the 4th century AD is definitely for you!
Discovered in 1971, the Roman Villa of Tellaro has only been open to the public for a few years and has proved to be an incredible place. There you are immediately catapulted into a truly fascinating past: you will find yourself admiring a remarkable amount of floor mosaics depicting many hunting scenes, but also banquets and some images taken from a tragedy by Aeschylus.
Syracuse and Ortigia
The history of this town is thousands of years old, so I ask you: if you are in Marzamemi, what else is there to see but Syracuse? Rich in culture, beautiful landscapes and an enviable sea, this town is the ideal destination for anyone who wants to take a break from everyday life. In fact, we’re talking about a magnificent place that survives on tourism.
So don’t miss the island of Ortigia, the oldest part of the city of Syracuse. Immersed in the alleyways, between a walk and an emotion aroused by a breathtaking view, you will surely be rewarded.
Among the many beauties of this island, we must mention the Maniace Castle and the Piazza del Duomo, where the Cathedral of Ortigia is located.
Here is what to see in and around Marzamemi as a nature lover, paired with good food and an excellent glass of wine!
This is Avola, a magnificent town situated in eastern Sicily. It is in the midst of the countryside, vineyards and citrus groves that are the protagonists of the biodiversity and agricultural history of this wonderful region.
Here you can relax and taste the famous Nero d’Avola wine and delicious almond biscuits. What are you waiting for to come to this magnificent land?
Marina di Ragusa
If you don’t know what to see in Marzamemi, let me suggest Marina di Ragusa, an enchanting place where you can have one of the best baths of your life.
In fact, “Mazzarelli”, its ancient name that comes from the Arabic and means “small landing place”, can boast of having been awarded the Blue Flag several times for its fabulous golden beaches and its uncontaminated sea.
It is visited every year by tourists from the furthest corners of the world – there must be a reason then!
Portopalo di Capo Passero
Here is what to see near Marzamemi: Portopalo di Capo Passero, the southernmost municipality in Sicily. It is immediately recognisable by its typical white houses and beaches that will satisfy everyone, being both rocky and sandy.
The municipality also includes the magnificent Island of the Currents (Isola delle Correnti), so called because it straddles the Ionian and Mediterranean seas. It is the perfect place to try your hand at water activities such as windsurfing. Here, on the island, you can harvest capers by hand and in the future who knows, maybe you can cook an excellent swordfish with olives and capers Sicilian style!
What to do in and around Marzamemi
I have just told you about what to see in and around Marzamemi… Now I will tell you what to do in this wonderful place! Of course, you have the possibility to choose between many activities, in order to relax, to live the sociality of the village or even to do some sport.
As well as seeing the highlights such as the Tonnara (tuna fishery), which is a must-see, you can go windsurfing, take a boat trip directly with the local fishermen or have an amazing winery experience.
If your aim is to relax and enjoy the atmosphere of this magical village, I recommend dining in one of the little restaurants in Piazza Regina Margherita, where you can also listen to great live music.
Tasting the local specialities is a must, so I recommend the “Ghiotta”, a very old recipe made with a sauce of capers, olives, peppers and, of course, tuna. Keep in mind that Marzamemi’s cuisine is the result of Arab and Greek influences, which have been brought to bear on this land for centuries, so its culinary delights are a way of coming into deep contact with different cultures.
Now that I’ve told you what to see and do in Marzamemi, I’m finally going to tell you how to get there!
How to get to Marzamemi
To get to this beautiful village, just land at Catania airport, where you can catch a direct bus to Pachino that runs regularly.
Another option is to take the train and get off at Noto, where you can also get a bus to your destination. But if you’re in Sicily, you might want to come by car to see all the beautiful places around Marzamemi.
Here’s what to see in Marzamemi! Are you ready for an adventure? Go backpacking! With Italia Delight, you can choose many experiences, weekends and food & wine trips, to personalise with the Food Experts who live in the destination! 🎒