SAN VITO LO CAPO
San Vito is a well-known seaside resort, noted in particular for its beautiful coastline. This opens out into a bay lined with wonderful beaches lapped by limpid water that seems tinged with ranges of blues and greens, from aquamarine to navy. In the 18C, the small town comprised simply a collection of whitewashed houses clustered around the Chiesa Madre. The church continues steadfastly to act as the town’s focal point, square and massive in profile, a constant reminder of its early beginnings as a Saracen fortress. Inside, it used to preserve a small church dedicated to San Vito (erected over the site where the saint is supposed to have lived) but this grew to be too small to
accommodate the many pilgrims, and so it was enlarged until it actually incorporated the very building which once harboured it.
The road from Custonaci to the headland offers wonderful views out over the Golfo del Cofano. Before San Vito, it passes on the left one of the many 16C watch-towers that punctuate this area. It then continues past an attractive, characteristically cube-like, little chapel dedicated to San Crescenzia (16C).
Beyond San Vito, on the left of the road stands an old and now abandoned tuna fishery (Tonnara del Secco). Up ahead sits the solitary Torre dell’Impio, another watch-tower (hidden on the way there, but clearly visible on the return). At the end of the road extends the marvellous Riserva dello Zingaro (see Riserva dello ZINGARO).
Monte Cofano – The towering limestone peak and the bay that surrounds it, now a nature reserve, make for a magnificent sight as the steep pinky-red cliffs extending skywards are mirrored (hopefully) in the crystal calm sea. Turn up the road on the right before Custonaci that leads to the bottom of the hill before continuing past a number of quarries gouged into the rocky flank. From these is extracted the marble known as Perlato di Sicilia, a startlingly white stone by comparison to the other brownish natural rock of the area. Not far from the quarries (follow the signs) nestles the grotto known as the Grotta Mangiapane (in the vicinity of Scurati). Inside, it shelters a tiny rural hamlet, complete with chapel and cobbled street. The endearing charm of this abandoned village, with its vaguely Mexican air (especially because of the square, mud-coloured houses), is especially poignant at Christmas, when it provides a setting for a captivating human enactment of the Christmas story.