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Avola

Description

Avola is a charming town in the province of Siracusa, overlooking the Jonian Sea, along one of the oldest Greek course in Sicily, Elorina Road. Both the Ionian Sea with its marvelous sandy and golden sands and the north eastern Iblei Hills embrace the whole town. Microclimate's happy distinctive feature allowed inhabitants to plant fields with sugar cane - from the XV to XIX century -, and now with vines, almond and lemon whose fruits still provide examples of high excellence products. Both the perfect oval shaped Avola's almond, as the famous Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia stated, and the Nero's wine, originated by the homonymous grape variety, are well-known products on a world-wide scale thanks to their unmistakable quality and taste.
Many historians relate the origins of Avola to an ancient Sican site, "Hybla Major", later occupied by the Sicilians; the Greeks came here in the VIII century, finding a very advanced and civilized population, due to the frequent contact with the Phoenicians. It became Roman territory during the Punic Wars, gradually losing its former glory.
"Ancient Abola", fortified town, was provided with a castle and over than twenty churches. It was situated on a high hill overlooking the Ionian coast. The town, after being totally destroyed by the 11 January 1693 earthquake, was immediately rebuilt in the fertile plain beneath the hill and near the sea for want of Carlo Pignatelli Aragona Cortés, Liege and Marquis of Avola and nephew of Pope Innocenzo XII. Angelo Italia, great architect and Jesuit friar of Palermo, was given the task of choosing the site, design and place the urban setting. Drawing inspiration from the Renaissance treatises, he designed an hexagonal layout, marked out in Mutubé feud around the end of march 1693 and it was designed with an orthogonal network whose two central axis, now Corso Garibaldi and Vittorio Emanuele, designed a cross, Marquisate's symbol and solemn commitment to the Christian Religion. These two main roads also delineated four quarters and their crossing shaped the main square Piazza Maggiore, since the beginning, functioning as public market. It was also flanked by the Mother Church, Liege's Palace and the Clock's Tower. Other four churches were placed at the cross ends and important holy buildings were built there. In 1841 was inaugurated Siracusa-Noto country road and "Strada del Corso" was part of it. After the Unification of Italy were built several valuable architectural works. In Neoclassical style were built many public utility buildings as the City Hall, the Ospice-Hospital, the Praetorship, the boys' and girls' Schools and the Old Market. At the beginning of the XX century the number of private building projects, such as neoclassical residential ones, increased as many houses' fronts show. The amazing bas-relief carved decoration on window jambs, architraves and balconies are excellent mark of this style. In 1929 the hexagonal urban plan was connected to the sea thanks to the opening of the "Viale", a long avenue now dedicated to Corrado Santuccio, and at the end was built a large terrace.
Attractions:
- the remains of a Roman villa, dating back to the II century BC, and paved with "opus signitum";
- the Early-Christian tombs;
- the dolmen, a megalithic structure dating back to the Neolithic period and identified by Salvatore Ciancio in 1961 in Borgellusa district;
- the Church of San Sebastiano, originally dedicated to Sam Nicolò, was started in April 1693; it is characterized by a towered façade, as well as the other churches in Val di Noto, built after the terrible earthquake of 1693. The plant, Latin cross-shaped, is divided into three naves, with valuable paintings of the XVIII century, Baroque style chapels and Roccocò style stucco and decorations.
- the Church of Santa Venera, patron saint of Avola, rebuilt in 1713 with a Latin cross-shaped plant. On one side of the apse there is the chapel of Santa Venera, built by the baron Astuto, that holds the silver statue of the saint; on the other side, indeed, there is the chapel of SS. Sacramento. The organ was built by Polizzi from Modica in 1901.
- the Church of San Giovanni Battista, with its unfinished façade, is rich in valuable works of art. It is divided into three naves by Corinthian style pilasters and Neoclassical decorations in blue and white. Frescoes and painting belonged to Gregorio Scalia.
- the Church of Santa Maria di Gesù, once part of the Convent of the Minor Friars, preserves the marble mausoleum of the baron Ascenzio Battaglia and some tombstones;
- the Church of Sant'Antonio Abate, in Baroque style, with a Neoclassical style altar. The organ was built by the Platania brothers from Acireale.
- the Church of SS. Annunziata, once part of the Benedictine monastery, is a beautiful example of Baroque style architecture, with its concave-convex façade;
- the small Church of Santa Croce, annexed to the Capuchin Monastery, is rich in valuable monuments; it was also the burial place of many Avola nobles;
- the Town Hall;
- Garibaldi Theater;
- the Clock Tower;
- the Avola lakes, in the natural reserve of Cava Grande del Cassibile.

Map

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