Marzamemi, one among the most beautiful 20 sea villages of Italy

marzamemi

Marzamemi is a sea town between Pachino and Noto. It is included in the district of Syracuse. From Pachino, the distance is 3 kms, while from Noto, the distance is 20 kms. It is also regarded as one among the most beautiful 20 sea towns of Italy. The main attractions of this town are the tasty fish recipes served by picturesque restaurants, the amazing sight of the sea, the narrow alleys and buildings that remind us a medieval county, and “The Tonnara”. This is the name of the grid that the local fishermen use to catch several samples of red tuna that is immediately sold to restaurants. The Tonnara is also an ancient palace that in the past served to shelter the great ships used to fish tuna . Over the years, it has been turned into an evocative restaurant and a suite with a stunning sight on the sea. However, Marzamemi is also a Sicilian town with a strong tourist relevance, where you can discover a quiet and wonderful landscape, an untouched nature and the impression that time has stopped forever.

Tourist information

marzamemi alley

Marzamemi is a good destination to visit the South East of Sicily. From here, you can visit enchanting places such as Noto and Syracuse. Noto is at a short distance from Marzamemi and it is regarded as the most beautiful baroque city of Italy. Even though you decide to remain in Marzamemi, you’ll get an unforgettable vacation in a likewise unforgettable sea landscape. The sky and the sea seem a unique thing, merged with stunning colours and the relaxing sounds of the Sicilian landscape. This town is a real and rare jewel to visit at anytime. You can also organize your wedding in the ancient palace of the Tonnara. Furthermore, this small hamlet keeps the most important submerged patrimony of Sicily, namely wrecks of ancient ships sunk during navigation.

The Tonnara

tonnara and port- marzamemi

The history of this wonderful sea town begins with The Tonnara, also known as the Tonnara of Marzamemi. This is an ancient palace designed by the Arabs around the 1000 A.D. Its name comes from the Arab “marsa al hamem” , that means “bay of turtledoves”. The Palace was built in the XVI century and is one the most ancient palaces of the western Sicily. The external courtyard was initially used to shelter the great ships used to fish tuna. These ships were also called “scieri” and carried the tonnara, namely grids used to fish tuna. In 1752, the prince of Villadorata, near the architectural complex of the Tonnara palace, which overlooks the sea ( see the image), built his Palace and the Church of the Tonnara. The prince was the owner of the entire downtown of Marzamemi. Arrived after the Arabs, in 1630, he strengthened the town and turned it into a small jewel. In the following centuries, it was also built a plant to prepare the salad tuna. The plant was abandoned afterwards. Today, for private and public events, at the Tonnara, they are available the Loggia, a large hall of 750 square metres and the Palace. The loggia opens straight into Santa Margherita Square, the centre of the town of Marzamemi. It has tufa arches and overlooks the sea and the ancient port of the fishermen. Moreover, on the coast of Marzamemi, you can find two small ports, The Fossa and The Balata, which, in the past, had an important relevancy for the local economy of the inhabitants, because the main commercial ships set sail from these ports.

Ancient shipwreck in Marzamemi, the main tourist attraction

shipwreck-marzamemi

As said, Marzamemi is internationally famous because under the sea, they were hidden ancient wrecks. These are the wrecks of ancient Roman ships which carried materials to build churches and columns, but that, unfortunately, sunk during navigation. Most of this patrimony was rescued thanks to the researches of the underwater archaeologist Gerhard Kapitan, in 1960. More recently, a further work has been undertaken at the same place, by the Sea Institute and the Stanford University. Among the countless remains, and the other sites along the coast, there are also two ancient ships called “lapidariae”. These are very important to learn about the history of the commercial trades of the materials to build the monuments in the Roman empire and in the late ancient age. Under the sea of Marzamemi, there is also the so called “Relitto delle Colonne”, “ The Column Wreck”. It lies scattered along all the flat bottom of the sea. Its main load (over 160 tons) includes massive and marbled architectural items probably dating back to the ancient Greece. Then, there are also small fragments and pieces which are very hard to identify. The remains that dominate over all the others, are some pieces of high columns with over six meters of length. One has a weight of 40 tons and it is the greatest column of the Mediterranean sea, so far, even heavier than the columns which embellish the Pantheon in Rome. A few hundred of meters, there is also another important wreck that endured a similar fate. It is called “ Il Relitto della Chiesa”, “ The Church Wreck”. This wreck rests in a sandy depression. The site is characterized by architectural items designed to build religious edifices before Christianity. Many columns, about 28, are not decorated. There are also some carved decorations dating back the VI century, the time of emperor Justinian, who built the famous church of Santa Sofia in Istanbul. The ongoing research in Marzamemi has revealed transport amphorae and a lead anchor used as a talisman by the ancient sailors, in addition to other countless remains that witness the key role of Marzamemi in the ancient commercial trades along the route of the Mediterranean sea. Some of these remains are pictured with 3D images and, sometimes, the Sicilian Diving Center in Syracuse organizes diving tours to discover the magnificent wrecks of Marzamemi.

Beaches

marzamemi-beach

This sea hamlet is the ideal place to stay when you want to visit the South of Sicily. Here, you can enjoy a beautiful sea and a relaxing and quiet vacation. Unfortunately, many beaches are invaded by seaweed. If you don’t want to see seaweed, you can reach a small beach on foot. This is at a short distance from the entrance of the town, near a summerhouse close to the street. Here, the sea waters are crystal and clear and unlike the other sections of beaches, this stretch is not invaded by seaweed. Take a walk on the dyke overlooking the sea and choose the part of the beach you like the most. Usually, in this small beach, you find not more than 10 villagers. Take a ride to Portopalo di Capo Passero and make a stop at the nearby beach of the Isola delle Correnti (Isle of the Currents. This is a very charming place, where you can see the currents of the Ionian and the Mediterranean Sea which cross simultaneously the same place. The other beaches of Marzamemi are Spinazza, large beach in the North of Marzamemi ( with seaweed), San Lorenzo, a long stretch of beach that looks like the one of the Caribbean, with seaweed, unfortunately, and Marinella, the small beach of the South of the town, with a sight on the Tonnara, always invaded by seaweed. To be sure to not meet seaweed, it is better to sunbath in the nearby beach of Portopalo.

How to reach Marzamemi

You can reach Marzamemi only from Catania airport. To book a flight to this airport, see here .
As soon as you landed in Catania, there are several buses in this city that can lead you to Marzamemi. These are the buses of Interbus lines. You can take these buses from 9,30 am to 17,30 pm. The ticket has a price of 9 euros, if you book the return ticket, the price is 13,50 euros. If the buses are not available in the days of your vacation, you can rent a car to reach this beautiful sea village. After your arrival, I suggest that you explore Marzamemi on foot, because this ancient fishermen’s town is a small paradise to admire step by step.

Accommodations
marzamemi square

In this hamlet, you can find picturesque and pretty accommodations. There are mostly restored ancient houses that in the past were owned by fishermen. Their style is typically Sicilian, such as the small houses of the Sicilian countryside. These houses have a wood roof and terracotta floor, built-in kitchens and stone oven. Outside, they are surrounded by porches overlooking the sea.

To find accommodations in Marzamemi like the ones I described, click here.

6 thoughts on “Marzamemi, one among the most beautiful 20 sea villages of Italy

  1. Pingback: Portopalo di Capo Passero, a magical place of beaches and sunsets – SICILY ON WEB

    1. Rosalba

      Thank you so much Jacqueline for appreciating my post about this beautiful sea village. Sorry for my late reply, but I was engaged to reply to information requests from tourists who want to visit this stunning Sicilian village. I hope you’ll keep following this blog. Thanks again.

  2. Pingback: Useful touristic information to visit the Sicilian baroque city of Noto

  3. melvina

    I got this webb page from my riend who informed me on the topic of this web site and at the moment thiks time I
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    1. Rosalba Mancuso

      Hi Melvina, thanks for letting me know your experience and opinion about my post on Marzamemi.
      Also thanks for appreciating it!

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