An Ionian seaside town, Avola is a mix of old and new. The town focuses heavily on the sea, with its history as a tuna fishing port. Today, the remains of the Vecchia Tonnara at the wharf are a stone backdrop to the sandy beaches.

Avola dates back to a pre-Greek people called the Sicani. The Greek colony here was established in the 8th century BC, then the Romans arrived in 227 BC.

Modern Avola retains some characteristic corners and hopping palm-lined piazzas. Restaurants, cafes, and pastry shops provide regional treats, and there is no lack of shops and services. I ended up here on a sunny afternoon, in the winter time. The city was dead – not even a restaurant to be open.

My phone battery died on my way so I was driving following the sign from the motorway to the city center. My plan was to sit somewhere to eat and charge the phone, get into the history of the city, and observe and connect my missing dots about Sicily. Except that there was no bar open, I mean almost not open. A few of them were closing because it was the afternoon time, some of them couldn’t charge my phone and some of them didn’t have small Sicilian bites – I was super hungry. I skipped my lunch that day counting on the fact I will eat in Avola, somewhere nice, with a view of the sea. Nothing of that happened.

Instead, I entered some small random lottery bar – typical Italian. Salvatore was happy to have me. I have sat on a bar chair and ordered espresso and prosecco, explaining to him in what kind of situation I found myself. I felt sheltered. Then the local men started to arrive in a typical Italian style. They come, one by one, most of the times they know each other. They great each other, have a quick coffee, chit chat using hand gestures and loud voice expressions. They buy a lottery ticket and then they leave. I was observing, trying to understand this hard core sicilian dialect. I can say I pushed my boundaries for that day. However, Salvatore was keeping an eye on me, understanding that I do not always feel comfortable. Especially without the phone to hide behind it.

The town’s name is famous because of the wine dubbed after it – Nero d’Avola, a hearty red variety exported around the world. Many people think this wine belongs to pinot noir. In fact, Nero d’Avola is made in two very different styles. The first is fragrant and crunchy, light to medium bodied, almost like Pinot Noir – except that it is not.

I couldn’t miss the Antico Borgo, the old town, with its charming streets and stone buildings. It is the typical sicilian baroque style but it did the charm for the day.

Cathedral of Saint Nicola

The Teatro Comunale is a point of pride for the people, an opulent opera house bedecked with boxes and lined with velvet, its construction signaled a rise in the city’s prosperity and cultural status.

The Vecchio Mercato is where the daily fresh market was held, in a beautiful colonnaded cloister of what had been a Benedictine monastery.

But of course, much of the lure of Avola is the sea and the wide beaches. The Ionian coast here is transparent and the long sandy expanses are great for kids. Along the waterfront is a long pier that juts out into the sea, a preferred spot for a romantic stroll. Discover attractions in Avola 🙂

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