Pantalica is a large necropolis in the province of Siracuse on Sicily, Italy.

Understand edit

The Necropolis of Pantalica is a large necropolis with over 3,000 tombs dating from the 13th to the 7th centuries BCE. Pantalica is situated in the valley of the rivers Anapo and Calcinara in south-eastern Sicily. Together with the city of Syracuse, Pantalica is listed as Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

History edit

Around 1300 BCE, the Sicans tribe left their coastal settlements and settled down in the valley between the rivers Fiume Anapo in the south and Fiume Calcinara in the north. As dwellings, they used natural limestone caves in existing slopes as well as carving artificial caves in the mountain. Probably around 1100 BC the Anaktoron (palace) was built.

From the original settlement, over 5000 artfully constructed cave tombs remain. In 665 BCE during the Hellenistic colonization of Syracase, the settlement was destroyed. In the early Christian and Byzantine period new tombs were created and the Pantalica became a hideout during the Arab invasion. They named the place Buntarigah (caves).

After the valley was inhabited by the Normans, it was abandoned. Paolo Orsi, an archaeologist, recognized its importance and started excavation activities. In 2005, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Flora and fauna edit

Pantalica: Fiume Anapo

In this area the oleander is very common. This evergreen plant blooms from May to July. The flower color varies from white to pink. The fruit is ripe in October and November. It is a poisonous plant for humans and animals because of the high content of glucosides. The Sicilian trout is a salmonid that is found only in southern Italy, Sicily, Sardinia and North Africa. This fish is very demanding, requiring fresh highly oxygenated water.

Get in edit

By car edit

The Necropolis has a 1 West Entrance and an 2 East Entrance. Both entrances can be reached by car. West from Ferla and east from Sortino. Follow the brown Pantalica tourism signs. A small visitors center can be found at the west entrance. You can park your car here but it is possible to follow SR11 further east and park your car at the end of the road.

By bus edit

Both entrances can be reached by bus from Syracuse.

On foot edit

It's possible to walk from Sortino to the East Entrance. It takes about 45 minutes. Get off a bus at Piazza Santa Sofia stop in front of a church or a stop earlier at Piazza Giovanni Verga in front of a town hall. Then go downhill on wide stairs to Piazza Capuccini next to a Capucinian cloister. It's a platform with a nice lookout at a valley and hills in the direction of Pantalica. But don't get fool yourself. Pantalica is a third valley out of your sight. Only the furthest slopes on a horizon belong to Anapo Valley of Pantalica.

On the platform there are two barely readable maps and a hiking path starts here. The path is marked with direction labels and an orange-green stripe mark painted on walls. Unfortunately the stripe mark predates recent changes in a land ownership and sometimes leads to a fence or a gate of a new house. You will need to use a map and common sense. Basically, follow road SP54 and then turn right using an old road down to creek Torrente Ciccio which is bypassed by a concrete bridge and then on the right side of the valley you will pass an icon of Jesus with an electrical lamp set into a rock.

Once you climb the valley, you will get on a crossroad with a direction label and the very first sign of Pantalica natural reservation zone B. Continue leftish on the road between walls separating gardens and you will descent into a second valley. After bridging its creek, you can use use a shortcut on right side between gardens and pasturies.

Then you will pass few villas on left side and olive orchards on right side on the hilltop plateaux and you will get on a crossing with an asphalt road SR11. The crossing is adjacent to a small road bay at the left corner in front of a villa and with an informational panel about Pantalica. At the crossing is a new, brown, wooden sign Pantalica pointing left, east, in the line of SR11. Use that road SR11 which will lead you directly to the East entrance of the park with a parking lot, gate, panels, and a cottage for park rangers. Do not follow the orange-green stripe mark from that crossing. It leads to a dead-end (a bar and a fence).

The East Entrance lies on a slope of the third valley of Calcinara River.

Fees and permits edit

In high season, there may be an entry fee. The park can be sometimes closed. In that case you will be diverted by rangers guarding the entrances.

Get around edit

It is possible to explore by foot or by bike. Take headgear if biking, and drinking water.

See edit

  • In the center is the Anaktoron, the palace with Mycenaean influence that dates to 12-11 BC. It is in the middle of the valley and reachable by road SR11. A hiking trail leads south along the ruins of Greek temples. After the ruins of the Byzantine San Nicolicchio cave shrine, a trail leads along the south of the Necropolis to the west into the valley of Anapo. A little further west the path leads past the ruins of the Byzantine settlement San Micidiario to a parking area on the SR11.
  • In the west, in the area of a natural bottleneck in the access to the valley, is the Necropolis Filip Porto from the 9th-8th century BC with about 500 grave sites.
  • A little further on the SR11 is the North-West Necropolis on the slope at the Torrente Sperone in the north. It was created in the early days of the 12th-11th century BC and contains about 600 tombs.
  • The most extensive and most impressive necropolis is the North Necropolis from the 12th-11th century BC with 1,500 tombs, which stretches on the southern slope of the Fiume Calcinara and spreads to the east on the slope of its northern shore. A footpath leads from the North Necropolis to the north, passing the Byzantine cave shrine Crocifisso. From there, the path leads down to the bank of the Fiume Calcinara and the northern part of the necropolis on the northern slope of the valley and the natural cave Grotta dei Pipistrelli.
  • The slightly smaller Necropolis Cavetta with about 300 graves located in the east dates from the 9th-8th century BC and shows traces of Byzantine settlements. From the eastern end of the SR11, a footpath leads south to the natural Grotta Trovata. Another path leads to Necropolis Cavetta just west of the SR11.

Do edit

When hiking around the necropolis, time passes quickly, but you may still have time to swim in the Anapo or Calcinara.

Buy, eat and drink edit

There are no shopping, eating, or drinking facilities.

Sleep edit

Stay safe edit

Think about adequate sun protection and drink supplies. It can be very hot in summer. Refreshments are not available on the site.

Go next edit

  • Palazzolo Acreide with the excavations of the Greek polis is not far away.
  • Visit the necropolis of Thapsos, which is probably from an earlier culture.
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