When we arrived in Sicily in September 2021, nine months before moving here permanently, we left the U.S. feeling adrift and seeking to put a new wind in our sails. The pandemic had left us, like so many others, languishing in whatever direction life took us. So we had come back with a list of places we wanted to visit, hoping one of them might offer something special.
The town of Palazzolo Acreide was not on it.
Though I’d spent an afternoon there months earlier, when I’d come to Sicily alone, and knew of the town’s history and charm. But we were short on time and I just wasn’t sure it was the kind of place where I could see our new life unfolding.
I was wrong.
Set in the stunning scenery of the Iblei mountains, the picturesque village of Palazzolo Acreide is listed by UNESCO World Heritage, as one of the Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto, which “reflect the great, post-seismic rebuilding achievement of the decades following the catastrophic earthquake in 1693, which ravaged towns across south-eastern Sicily.”
It’s been occupied since ancient times, first by one of the original three Sicilian native inhabitants of Sicily, the Sicels, who lived there during the 10th and 11th centuries BC, and then, in 664 BC, the Syracuse Greeks created the ancient city of Akrai, which was built on the peak of a hill, an ideal location for watching the surrounding territory and controlling the lines of communication between the towns of the southern coast.
It turns out Palazzolo was exactly the kind of “something special” we were searching for.