Graves on the rocks
Archeology, history and nature in the necropolis of Pantalica.
A rocky necropolis, a high plateau , a wild and wonderful nature reserve . Pantalica , close to the great Sicilian city of Siracusa , is all this and much more still.
Sicily before the Ancient Greeks arrived
One of the most interesting archeological sites in the whole of eastern Sicily, Pantalica testifies to an important period in the history of the island: the era before the arrival of the Ancient Greeks.
Over the centuries, the Anapo and Calcinara rivers carved deep canyons into the landscape, characterized by high plains and spectacular, sheer cliff-faces. In the XIII B.C, groups of indigenous people came here from the coast, fleeing attack by invading Sicils and other Italian peoples.
From its foundation in the Bronze Age, the kingdom continued to grow in power, to such an extent that contacts were made with other civilizations. With Greek colonization, it flourished further. The settlement's fortunes, which peaked in the Byzantine period, only began to wane with the Arab conquest.
A spectacular city of the dead , which UNESCO has declared a World Heritage Site, Pantalica is home to more than 5000 tombs hewn out of the rock face!
Where manmade and natural masterpieces meet
The tombs are subdivided into five groups and the archeological area, which extends across three municipalities, that of Sortino, Ferla and Cassaro, can be accessed from various entrance points.
The classic archeological tour starts in the town of Ferla, from where visitors quickly reach the part of the necropolis known as Filiporto and the Anaktoron or "palazzo del principe" of which only the massive foundations, similar to those of Mycenaean palaces, can still be seen. From Filiporto, footpaths lead to the remains of the Byzantine village and the ancient oratory of San Micidiario.
If you decide to enter the site from Sortino, you'll need to go beyond the outskirts of the town, and take the road leading to the Northern Necropolis.
If you have time, after visiting the archeological site, take a walk along the old mule track which leads to the bed of the river Calcinara.
From the graveyard to the grotto: itineraries and ideas
From Sortino, you can also reach the Anapo Valley Nature Reserve by way of the provincial road which passes through Solarino. Park at the entrance to the reserve and from here board one of the forestry commission buses which takes visitors to the designated sites located along the banks of the Anapo river.
Another sight definitely worth seeing is the legendary Grotta dei Pipistrelli (Bat's Cave), located just below the footpath which, from Sortino, snakes its way through the thick Mediterranean vegetation as far as the Northern Necropolis. A flight of steps carved out of the rock leads down to the entrance of the Grotta. It's a good idea to visit the cave in the company of an expert guide.
The sweetest souvenir: Monti Iblei honey. Since ancient times, the area of Sortino has been known for its exquisite honey, now produced by just 80 artisan beekeepers.
How to get to the Necropolis of Pantalica
From Siracusa head towards Pantalica along the SS115 road, in the direction of Floridia-Solarino-Ferla
For information contact Palazzolo Acreide town council
Tel: +39 0931 881509
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