advertisement

Riserva Naturale di Vendicari  -- Created as a government-protected nature reserve in 1984, this stretch of coast south of the Tellaro River is one of the most beautiful spots in southeastern Sicily. Open daily 9am to dusk, with free entry, it covers 574 hectares (1,418 acres) of lovely marshland that is an oasis for migratory birds and serious birders. Guides are available at the office (tel. 0931-67450; www.oasivendicari.net) at the park entrance.

What you see depends on the season. In winter, all sorts of ducks can be spotted, ranging from the mallard to the red-crested pochard. In fall, you'll see the white egret, black stork, and even European flamingo. Most birds only check in and then fly away to other climes, with the exception of the black-winged stilt, the Kentish plover, and the reed warbler, which all breed here.

The reserve is always open, but it's best to go in the early morning or closer to twilight; don't forget binoculars. To get here from Noto, drive southeast to the coast. Then take the road south -- signposted PACHINO -- until you come to the marked entrance to the reserve.

If you first visited Eloro, continue driving south for 5km (3 miles), where you'll see the Torre Vendicari, an abandoned Norman tower. This artifact from Sicily's conquerors of yesterday overlooks a beautiful crescent of golden sand near old salt pans. It's a great place to log some time on the beach.

Motorists with the time can continue all the way to the extreme southeastern tip of Sicily. You'll pass first through the pleasant town of Pachino before reaching the cape, which lies 7km (4 miles) south of Pachino. A major tuna fishing ground, the Capo Passero rewards visitors with a panoramic view ★★ out to sea.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.