What to see in Sciacca for a holiday in the wonderful Sicily, among art, events, great food and enchanting beaches? Follow our guide and you will enjoy a unique experience in this part of “Trinacria”.
Popular among tourists for its artistic beauty, Sciacca is located on the south-western coast of Sicily, in the province of Agrigento. The town overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and is one of the most characteristic of this part of the island, with its idyllic beaches.
Sciacca is famous for its small medieval historical centre and for the Baroque art you can admire in its civil and religious buildings; for the Arab contaminations that mingle with the medieval atmosphere to create a very characteristic setting. It is also famous for its historical thermal waters and for the oldest thermal centre in Sicily, now disused.
The ancient crafts of ceramics and coral working still live on in Sciacca. These centuries-old arts continue their adventure with the handicraft production of ceramics, coral objects and jewellery.
The Sicilian town is also called the “city of fishing” for its long tradition in this activity, which has always been a great economic resource. Sciacca is located on the southern coast of the island, bathed by the waters of the Mediterranean Sea rich in fish, especially anchovies, sardines, tuna and swordfish.
After a nice tour of the old town, where all the main attractions are located, we go on to discover the most beautiful beaches. The best time to come here is between late spring and the early summer months.
And if you are wondering what to do in Sciacca… Among the many events, the Carnival remains memorable, for being one of the oldest and most characteristic in Italy on a par with the Carnival of Viareggio!
It’s time to go on vacation. Follow our tourist itinerary to discover the best things to do and see in and around Sciacca, including food and wine, history, art and culture, nature and relaxation. All in a single guide to save time and make the most of every step. 👇
[ back to menu ]
In this guide you will discover what to see in Sciacca and its surroundings, for a day trip or a longer holiday.
Let’s start with the historic centre with its evocative mediaeval urban layout, which can also be visited on foot through its Arabian alleyways, characteristic quarters and murals, after parking the car in the designated areas: Via Incisa, Piazza Mariano Rossi, Viale della Vittoria, Piazza Saverio Friscia, Via Giuseppe Licata, Piazza Don Luigi Sturzo.
There are also free car parks in Via dell’Arca, Piazza Mariano Rossi and Via Orti Mori.
You can enter the historical centre through its gates, once five, now three: Porta San Salvatore, Porta Palermo and Porta San Calogero.
Castello dei Luna or Castello Nuovo
The Castello dei Luna is located on a rocky spur in the highest part of the town. The castle is a living testimony to Sciacca’s medieval past.
The historical medieval fortress, dating back to 1380, was erected by the vicar of Sicily Guglielmo Peralta, Count of Caltabellotta, and one of the 4 vicars of the Kingdom of Sicily after the death of King Frederick III. The fortress passed to the Luna family through the arranged marriage of Guglielmo Peralta’s niece Margaret with Count Artale de Luna, a Catalan and uncle of King Martin.
The castle became the site of some events, nowadays remembered as the “case of Sciacca”: a bloody clash between the two noble families of Luna of Catalan origin and Perollo of Norman origin, which lasted for two long centuries.
The Castello dei Luna is open daily from 09:00 to 13:00 and from 16:00 to 20:00.
A few kilometres from the centre you can reach the “Castello Incantato”, a truly unusual place to visit for its evocative works of sculptural art created by “Filippu di li testi”, or Filippo Bentivegna, also known as “Filippo delle teste” or “Filippo the madman”, an artist of the art brut or outside art movement.
A garden-museum with thousands of heads carved and chiselled into the rock, peeping out among almond and olive trees. The heads, according to the artist, were the subjects of his kingdom, hence the appellation “Excellence” by which he liked to be called.
The enchanted castle is open from 09.00 to 21.00 in summer; from 09.00 to 13.00 and from 15.00 to 17.00 in winter. Tickets cost €3.00 per person. Reduced ticket for children and students, €1.50 per person.
Cathedral of Sciacca
Among the top things to see in Sciacca’s historical centre, the Duomo (or Cathedral of Maria Santissima del Soccorso) is recognisable by its Baroque-style façade and main portal adorned with statues of saints.
Inside, in the apse of the Cathedral there is a statue of the Madonna and Child in her arms, dating back to the 17th century. On the ceiling you can admire frescoes depicting scenes from the Apocalypse, while the aisles depict fragments from the life of Mary Magdalene.
Steripinto Palace and Fazello Palace
Sciacca is home to two beautiful palaces of civil architecture, the Steripinto Palace and the Fazello Palace. The former is an aristocratic residence of the Steripinto noble family, dating back to 1500 in Catalan-Gothic style. The palace cannot be visited inside, but it is worth seeing from the outside for its unique decorations on the façade.
Palazzo Fazello, on the other hand, is a historical residence along the sea in Sciacca, where the noble Fazello family once lived. Today, the palace houses the Fazello museum complex, the Museum of the Sea and a prestigious Art Gallery with a number of archaeological finds recovered from the seabed, including the Melqart of Sciacca, a bronze statuette probably from Phoenician times.
The Church of Santa Margherita
Right in the centre of Sciacca, the deconsecrated Church of Santa Margherita, built by Eleonora of Aragon in 1342 on the remains of a pre-existing church, is definitely worth a visit. The façade is in Catalan style, while inside there are frescoes and polychrome plaster and gold stuccoes, clearly Baroque in style. The ceiling embellished with pure gold decorations and the image on canvas of the Immaculate Mary is very beautiful.
A stone’s throw from the cathedral, this house-museum of the Scaglione family was donated to the municipality of Sciacca by the daughters of the collector Cavalier Francesco Scaglione in 1969, and it is also worth a visit. The building overlooks the sea, offering a splendid panoramic view, and extends over two levels divided into rooms with frescoed ceilings and precious majolica floors.
The rooms contain various sections housing collections of ceramics, Sicilian minerals and corals, clocks and candelabras, insects, furniture, and paintings by Neapolitan and Sicilian painters (16th-19th centuries). An archaeological section is dedicated to exhibits from the Greco-Roman period, the numismatic collection of coins, including those from the Greco-Roman period. There is also a natural history section and a malacology collection.
Historic city gates
In Sciacca, you should see its ancient city gates, what remains of its city walls: Porta Palermo, Porta Salvatore and Porta San Calogero.
Porta Palermo was built in the 18th century during the reign of King Charles II of Bourbon. The exterior façade is Baroque in style.
Porta di San Calogero gives access to the upper part of the city, in the San Michele district, once seat to the noble residence. The gate also marked the boundary with the Jewish quarter of the Cadda.
Porta San Salvatore, the oldest, once was the main entrance gate to Sciacca. It takes its name from the church that stands nearby and is in various architectural styles.
Port and Caricatore Caves
The Porto del Caricatore, a marina that dates back to Norman times, is the starting point for visiting the Grotte del Caricatore, a series of sea caves along the coast. A “labyrinth” of narrow, winding alleyways and stairways that reach down to the port, concealing hundreds of underground cavities that have made Sciacca one of Sicily’s main loader ports.
The caves once served as places to store grain, as the port was a hub for trade and grain exports.
Ticket price: €2.00 per person.
Zigzag Staircase & Staircase with Ceramics in Vicolo Consiglio
Not far from the port, in Vicolo Grange Caricatore, among the alleys of the Sailors’ Quarter, is the famous Sciacca staircase, known as the zigzag staircase. It is one of the most photographed places because of the peculiarity of the handrails decorated with multicoloured majolica and the steps that form a zigzag. The zigzag staircase, built to facilitate the passage of mules and carts to the port, dominates the old town.
The staircase with the ceramics of Vicolo Consiglio, on the other hand, is a staircase with coloured majolica. This tradition goes back in time to the 13th century and is still alive today in Sciacca’s craft workshops.
Among the things to see in Sciacca, we recommend a visit to the Cortile Carini, a small courtyard decorated by a local artist of Lucanian origin, Giulio Lorubbio, aka “Lulo”.
The courtyard is located near Piazza Saverio Friscia and is a very evocative corner for its decorations that create seascapes, animals, plants, fantastic creatures, with materials obtained and processed: ceramics, glass, stones, wood and shells. The artist collects all this material and transforms it into art to decorate the stairs and walls of the particular dwellings overlooking the courtyard.
Monte Kronio Antiquarium – San Calogero stoves, San Calogero cave and San Calogero Basilica
Not to be missed the visit to the Sanctuary and cave of San Calogero in Sciacca, the Antiquarium of Monte Kronio, an archaeological museum in the upper part of the town.
A place where you can breathe in the tradition and where you can touch history with the Neolithic artefacts. Here you will also find the famous Stufe di San Calogero, one of the oldest and most famous thermal sites in Sciacca, now closed for years. Inside the Stufe there is the cave of San Calogero, known as a place of worship and healing, thanks to the therapeutic properties of the thermal waters that flow inside the cavern.
Next to the Stufe di San Calogero is the Basilica di San Calogero, built around 1600 on the remains of an ancient Greek temple dedicated to Asclepius, the god of medicine. The basilica houses the shrine of San Calogero, the patron saint of Sciacca, whose feast day is celebrated on 18 June each year. According to tradition, St Calogero dedicated himself here to curing the sick by making use of the sulphurous vapours in the caves, known as “stoves”.
What to see around Sciacca?
[ back to menu ]
If you have enough time, we recommend a visit to the surroundings of Sciacca, to discover towns that are worth a visit before leaving the island.
What are the chances of returning to the same strip of land a second time? Unless you have a holiday home where you return every year to spend your vacation, the chances are very low.
It is a shame to leave without having seen at least once monuments that cannot be found everywhere, such as the Dolmen of Sciacca, in the district of Galenzo Aquilea-San Giorgio sulla Rocca Nardone, about 15 km from the centre. The Dolmen is a type of prehistoric megalithic tomb dating from the period between the end of the 5th millennium BC and the end of the 3rd millennium BC.
Among the small places to visit near Sciacca, we recommend Caltabellotta. It is very old and with less than 4,000 inhabitants, rich in monuments bearing traces of Greek, Roman, Arab and Norman influences… breathtaking views and excellent local specialities.
Agrigento is absolutely worth a visit for its “jewels”: the archaeological site of the Valley of the Temples, the Cathedral of San Gerlando, Pirandello’s Birthplace, the Temple of Concordia, the Temple of Hercules and the Temple of Juno, the Scala dei Turchi, and the wonderful beaches.
Another village worth visiting is Sambuca di Sicilia, listed among the most beautiful in Italy and characterised by its Arab influence. Here it is also possible to go walking and trekking on Mount Genuardo and near Lake Arancio, an artificial basin from where itineraries such as the one along the Tardara gorge leading to Sciacca start.
Mazara del Vallo, known as the “City of the Satyr”, is also worth a visit for its historical centre influenced by several architectural styles.
Approximately 25 kilometres from Mazara, you can reach another small pearl of the west coast: Marsala, a city famous for its fortified wine of the same name and for its countless wine cellars dotting the coastline; for its Baroque style and for its marvellous beaches that have been awarded the Blue Flag by the European Union.
The provincial capital Trapani, also known as the “city of the two seas”, is also a destination not to be missed around Sciacca for its enchanting bays, characteristic neighbourhoods steeped in a mixture of traditions, salt pans, coral processing, and aromatic and spicy local cuisine.
We also recommend the Torre Salsa Nature Reserve. A true unspoilt oasis with cliffs, dunes and beaches.
[ back to menu ]
Sciacca is surrounded by endless stretches of sand, from the well-equipped ones to the more hidden coves overhung by large rocky walls, to beaches with pebbles or sand that can be reached by sea or on foot.
Here are some of the most beautiful.
Near Sciacca you can access Lido dello Stazzone, Torre del Barone Beach and La Foggia Beach. A few kilometres away from the centre, near Capo San Marco Nature Reserve, there are Baia del Sol beach and Tonnara beach.
About ten kilometres from the centre of Sciacca, you can reach Capo San Marco Beach in the Capo San Marco Nature Reserve. One of the most beautiful among the others for its coves nestled among the limestone rocks… Driving along the old Sciacca road, you will find descents to the sea leading to hidden coves, including Lumia, Timpi Russi and San Giorgio.
Other beaches to include in the itinerary
- Sovareto beach
- Torre del Barone beach
- Renella beach
- Menfi beach, one of the longest and most beautiful in the area, with white sand
- Portopalo di Menfi beach
- Selinunte beach with a spectacular view of the temples of Selinunte
- Giache Bianche beach
Best things to do in Sciacca
[ back to menu ]
What to do in and around the city? There are a plethora of opportunities for all tastes. If you prefer some shopping, you can stroll through the streets of Sciacca’s centre, on Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Here you can find boutiques as well as goldsmiths, handmade and ethnic jewellery shops. Red coral from the volcanic island of Ferdinandea is very popular here.
In the San Leonardo district, you can admire the popular street art of Sciacca.
Combining art with other pleasures turns the holiday into a wonderful opportunity to satisfy all the senses. Let us not forget the pleasures of the palate. Art, history, culture, nature… But now it’s time to eat!
In Sciacca you can taste local specialities with a unique flavour, enjoying an aperitif at the end of the day or a nice dinner in one of the small typical local trattorias, which will welcome you with local dishes such as these, just a few among the others:
- Alici alla saccense
- Pasta with sardines accompanied by “mollica atturrata”, fennel, sultanas and pine nuts
- Sarde a chiappa
- Dentex in salt
- Panelle and crocchè
- Spaghetti with sea urchins
- Red king prawns from Mazara del Vallo
- Cucchiteddi alla saccense (glazed pastries)
- Tabisca saccense (pizza)
- Ova Murina (typical sweet)
Among the most interesting and increasingly popular activities, you can enjoy the food and wine tours, cooking courses that let you get to the heart of local food and wine specialities: the excellent Sciacca DOC wine, which includes red, rosé and white wines produced from grapes grown in the municipality, the extra virgin olive oil, salted fish, anchovy paste, and the famous anchovies and strawberries from Sciacca and Ribera.
Sciacca strawberries are a variety of strawberry that grows in the Monte Kronio area. They are small, sweet strawberries with an intense aroma and unique flavour, appreciated for the preparation of cakes, jams, ice-creams and other delicacies.
Sciacca anchovies, on the other hand, are caught and processed by local fishermen. They are very tasty and used in many typical Sicilian dishes, such as pasta with anchovies and sarde a beccafico.
Now that you know what to see in and around Sciacca, we wish you a happy trip to Sicily! Remember that with Italia Delight, you can book food and wine experiences and trips directly with Italy’s top Food Experts. 😋
Cover photo: unsplash, renzo-vanden-bussche
Featured photo: pixabay, tubarelli0