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Boys walking down pedestrian street in Scicli, Sicily on a sunny day.

Scicli, Sicily – How to Spend One Day in the City of Caves

Scicli, Sicily – say that 10 times fast!

Scicli, pronounced SHEE-klee, is one of the Val di Noto baroque towns, but it’s less visited than Ragusa, Noto, or Modica.  The town has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002, and it gained recognition as a set for the popular 90’s television series, Inspector Montalbano.

There’s nothing major to draw you to Scicli, but some highlights include:

  • Seeing the remnants of a cave quarter (you may get Matera vibes)
  • Local foods like cucciddato and testa di turco
  • Gargoyles
  • The pedestrian area of Via Penna

I recently stayed in Scicli with my kids, but I have also visited many times with visitors to Sicily. 

Let’s take a look at how you can spend a day in the Val di Noto town.

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Where is Scicli, Italy?

Scicli is located in southeastern Sicily.  It’s one of the famous late Baroque Val di Noto towns (others include Ragusa, Modica, Palazzolo Acreide, Noto, Catania, Militello, and Caltagirone). 

The Best Time to Visit Scicli

Scicli can be visited year round, but know that it gets hot during the summer.  If you decide to visit during the summer, avoid walking around town midday. 

I recently visited with family in January and we had a great time.  Everything we wanted to see was open, and we were also able to head to Sampieri (a nearby beach) to play in the sand and sea!

Things to Do in Scicli

Go on a Guided Tour

Yes, you can wander around, but I’ve always enjoyed my visits here more with a local guide.  On our last visit, we walked around town with Maria (+39 338.8959468), a local certified tour guide.  She was excellent with my kids, she tailored the walking tour to our interests, and made the city come to life.  I highly recommend booking a tour with her if you come to town. 

However, if you find yourself in town at the last minute, or you just want to ‘do things your way,’ here are my ‘must-sees’ for Scicli:

See the Cave Home – A Rutta ri Ron Carmelo

Step into a cave – and back in time – as you enter this tiny museum at the edge of town.  We unfortunately weren’t able to visit on my recent trip with my kids – check the open days and times closely if you’re planning a visit.  Great stop for kids and adults to get a feel for what life was like living in the caves of Scicli.

In its height, the area had around 2000 inhabitants.  Scicli had about 100 residents living in the quartiere rupestre (rocky quarter) on the side of the hill until the 1960s, when the situation became known nationally as shameful and the government transferred them to homes in another area of town. 

Now, the EU has given a grant to create an archaeological park.  The area is currently closed to visitors for safety reasons.

See the Cave Church – Chiesa di Santa Maria di Piedigrotta

Boys looking at altar in cave church in Scicli, Sicily.  Carved out of rock, presepe on left.

You can also see where some of Scicli’s residents worshipped, in the tiny cave church dug out of the rock, Chiesa di Santa Maria di Piedigrotta. 

See the Other Church of San Bartolomeo

Boys and guide inside San Bartolomeo Chiesa in Scicli, Sicily.  It's full of paintings and decorations.

Located not far from the cave church, the Chiesa di San Bartolomeo was built by the same wealthy family who built the cave church.  But, San Bartolomeo was where the family and the wealthy residents of Scicli worshipped. 

This church is full of art – there’s something for everyone to look at!

Walk to the Pedestrian Area of Via Penna

This is the best area in Scicli to stroll or grab something to eat at an outdoor café or restaurant.  It used to be open to vehicles, but UNESCO required Scicli to make it a pedestrian area (good call, UNESCO). 

Grab a gelato at NIVERA.  You may also want to walk into the Chiesa di San Giovanni Evangelista (Church of St. John the Evangelist).  Inside, you’ll find a unique painting – Cristo in Gonnella (Christ in a Skirt), also called Cristo di Burgos.

Find Your Favorite Gargoyles

Gargoyles on a building in Scicli, Sicily.

No trip to Scicli is complete without checking out some of the town’s gargoyles.  Our favorite gargoyles are on Palazzo Fava and Palazzo Beneventano.

Get a View of Scicli from Above

View of Scicli from above, at the Collina della Croce.  Cypress tree blocks part of the view.
View from Collina della Croce

You have a couple of options, and you can see them from the center of Scicli.  For the best views, make your way up to the Collina della Croce.  You can walk up (20 minutes) or drive up (10 minutes) and you can see nice views of Scicli from the front of the convent or you can go inside.  If you want views of the Chiafura, pay the fee to enter the convent.  There is also a small trail around the back of the convent, but it was closed off when I was last there.

You can also walk up to the Chies di San Matteo, which is where Scicli was originally located (high up for defensive reasons).

Good To Know:  There was also a castle in Scicli, but only ruins remain (the Castellaccio).

How to Spend a Day in Scicli

Caves in the rocky hillside in Scicli, Sicily.
Former cave district in Scicli

Arrive in Scicli

Arrive and park on the edge of the town center.  See our recommended parking area on the Google map above.

Have Coffee

If you need it, grab a quick coffee at Caffè Sicilia on Piazza Italia. 

Step into the Chiesa Madre di San Guglielmo

Just across the street (and a little to the right) from Caffè Sicilia is Scicli’s main church.  Take a peek inside on the left and see something unusual… the Madonna holding a sword and riding a white horse.  This is a common theme here in Scicli and on the last Saturday of May, Scicli holds a festival honoring the Madonna.  Legend says she helped fight in a battle against the Moors to help the local Christian people of Scicli.  She’s a brave female figure honored in town.

Walk to the Cave Home

Walk to A Rutta ri Ron Carmelo, a small ‘museum’ set up inside a former cave home. 

Walk to the Cave Church

Next, make your way to the neighborhood’s cave church, the Chiesa di Santa Maria di Piedigrotta. 

On your way, look across the canal (on the left) at the Chiafura quarter, a neighborhood of Scicli built into the side of the hill.  You can still see the cave entrances, but the area is blocked off for safety reasons.  It’s now officially a UNESCO archaeological park.

When you reach the last building on Via Isarco (you can see the street sign on the wall of the building on the right), turn right up the stairs and follow the small path up to the entrance of the cave church. 

Walk to the Wealthy Church (San Bartolomeo)

Flip a u-turn and go back down Via Isarco and onto Via Guadagna, until you reach the towering Chiesa di San Bartolomeo (Church of St Bartholomew) – quite a contrast from the church you just saw.

Have Lunch

See our recommendations on the map.  Either sit down for a meal, have Sicilian street food, or make a picnic with ingredients from the grocery store.

Get Gelato

Cup of gelato on a colorful ceramic tile table.
Ricotta & fig, and orange/chocolate/almond gelato

Make sure you save room for gelato at Gelateria NIVERA, in the pedestrian area of Piazza Municipio.

Find the Gargoyles

Stop by Palazzo Fava and/or Palazzo Beneventano to see some of Scicli’s gargoyles.

Climb Up the Collina della Croce

Take one last look at Scicli, from up high! 

Then, say addiu to Scicli!

Where to Eat in Scicli

Close up of cucciddato scaniato, a local bread of Scicli, Sicily.
cucciddato scaniato at PanDiviNo

La Grotta – Typical food and dishes from the area, but kind of refined.  Great place to eat with kids too.  Cave setting.

NIVERA Gelateria – Delicious gelato in unique flavors.  They also use milk from nearby Ragusa (from the dark red razza modicana cows).

Cannolia – cannoli!

PanDiviNo – Best bakery for cucciddato.

Jimmi Pizza – Perfect pizza to go, and they make gluten-free pizza too!

Local Foods To Try:  cucciddato scaniato (local bread), cacio cavalo ragusano (DOP sheep’s milk cheese), cerasuolo di vittoria (only DOCG wine in Sicily), carob honey candies, testa di turco (typical Scicli dessert of pastry filled with cream, ricotta, or chocolate).

Where to Stay in Scicli

Boys eating chips on a sofabed in a white/stone room.  You can see other furniture in the background.
Domus Rosae apartment

If a day isn’t enough, you can always spend the night in Scicli or nearby.

I like staying in the countryside when I’m visiting the Val di Noto towns, but it’s also nice to stay in the center of Scicli if you’re planning on spending a night or two in town.

Domus Rosae – I recently stayed here and loved its central location.  The apartment is clean, has a kitchen, and it’s well-stocked.  Perfect for a small family.  Note that there are stairs, and the bathroom and one of the bedrooms are upstairs. 

Scicli Albergo Diffuso – I didn’t stay here but I almost did.  The hotel is an albergo diffuso, meaning it’s made up of different rooms and homes spread throughout the city.  The Orange Room (Camera Arancia) is in a perfect spot on the pedestrian street in front of the Piazza Municipio.  There are also apartments for rent with kitchens, washing machines, and other amenities perfect for longer stays or families.

Eremo della Giubiliana – Not located in Scicli, but in the countryside near Ragusa, Modica, and Scicli.  It makes a great base for visiting the area.  I’ve stayed here and loved how quiet it was at night.  It’s a unique space, in an old monastery.

How to Get to Scicli

Countryside in the Val di Noto in Sicily. Green landscape with a small road in the lower left corner. Sunny day with a few clouds.

The best way to get to Scicli is by car, but you can also take the train. 

Driving to Scicli

If you have a rental car, you can reach Scicli easily.  Many of the roads in and around Scicli are tiny, curvy, and very dark at night. 

Be sure to read about Driving in Sicily and Renting a Car in Sicily.

Parking in Scicli – Take my advice and avoid street parking.  The streets are narrow and it’s not worth sweating through your clothing.  Pay to park in the lots and parking areas.  I’ve marked one on the Google Map.  It’s not expensive, and you can use the Easy Park app (yes, it’s easy!). Read about Parking in Italy.

ZTL in ScicliLook for signs warning of a ZTL (zona traffico limitato – limited traffic zone) in Scicli.  Check the timing of when the ZTL is active (meaning you can’t enter unless you have permission) – it may just be in the evening when you’re there.  Read more about ZTLs in Italy.

Taking the Train to Scicli

If you’re in a nearby town (for example, Modica, or even further away like Siracusa), you can easily take the train.  It takes about twice as long as it does by car (for example, 35 min vs. 16 min to from Modica to Scicli).  Once you move further out (to Catania, for example), it becomes quite the journey to travel by train.

Getting Around Scicli

Narrow cobblestone street in Scicli, Sicily.  You can see electric wires, terraces, balconies, and a yellow sign directing towards two churches.

You can easily move around Scicli on foot.  There is an NCC (private driver) available if needed – Scicli Taxi Service.

Scicli with Kids

Boy running on a cobbled street in Scicli, Italy.

Strollers – You can use your stroller in many parts of Scicli, but you will encounter stairs (for example, walking up to the cave church).  Read more about Strollers in Italy.

Diaper Changes – I didn’t see any changing tables on my last visit, so bring a portable mat and you can always find a quiet corner or bench to change your baby. Read our guide to Diapers in Italy.

Baby Supplies – There are multiple pharmacies in town, and you can also get basics (diapers, diaper wipes, diaper cream, baby food, etc) at the supermarkets in town.

What to See – Kids love the cave home, cave church, gargoyles, seeing the Chiafura quarter, having gelato at NIVERA or cannoli at Cannolia, taking the tourist train (trenino) around town (about 25 minutes). 

Playground – Skip it here.  It’s tiny and on a main road without a fence.  Instead, visit Ragusa Ibla’s playground.

Things to Do Near Scicli

Main piazza in Marzamemi, Sicily. You can see the church and people eating at an outdoor restaurant.
  • Ragusa Ibla – picturesque ‘old’ part of Ragusa
  • Modica – home of Sicily’s famous chocolate
  • Sampieri – family-friendly beach town
  • Marzamemi – quaint fishing village
  • Donnafugata Castle

Scicli, Italy FAQ

Can you see where Inspector Montalbano was filmed in Scicli?

Yes, you can see some of the important sets for Inspector Montalbano in Scicli Italy, including the Scicli town hall, the Antica Farmacia Cartia, and the police station.  Please note that the Inspector Montalbano series is no longer filming.

Is the Antica Farmacia Cartia worth a visit?

The Antica Farmacia Cartia is a small museum set in an historic pharmacy on a pedestrian street (via Francesco Mormino Penna) in Scicli.  You can see old medicinal containers, equipment the pharmacists used, and more.  If you enjoy looking back at parts of daily life from the early 1900s, this would be an excellent stop in Scicli.

Can I visit Marzamemi on a day trip from Taormina?

Yes, you can visit Marzamemi, but it’s a 2-ish hour drive from Taormina to the village. However, you can spend all day enjoying Marzamemi before heading back to Taormina.