Welcome to our latest travel adventure! In this post, we're embarking on a captivating journey through the stunning landscapes of Sicily, as seen through the lens of the beloved TV series "Inspector Montalbano." This iconic show, set in the fictional town of Vigàta, invites us to explore the rich cultural heritage, breathtaking coastlines, and ancient architecture of Sicily. Join us as we discover the real-life locations that brought the world of Salvo Montalbano to life. From the charming streets of Ragusa to the picturesque beaches of Punta Secca, each site offers a unique glimpse into the heart of Sicilian life and history. Let's unravel the mysteries and beauty of Sicily, just as Montalbano does in his intriguing cases!
Exploring Commissioner Montalbano's Locations in Ragusa
Ragusa's Cathedral Square
Let's start our tour of Commissioner Montalbano's Sicilian locations at the main square of Vigata as seen in the episodes. The famous Ragusa Ibla's Cathedral Square was chosen for filming. Located in the heart of Ibla, Ragusa's oldest part, it's dominated by the stunning façade of the imposing San Giorgio Church. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the two official cathedrals in Ragusa, along with the Church of San Giovanni Battista. Just a short walk away is the "Duomo" restaurant, run by chef Ciccio Sultano, one of only two eateries in Sicily honored with two Michelin stars.
Circolo di Conversazione
The Conversation Circle, also known as "Caffè dei cavalieri," is another key location in Commissioner Montalbano, situated in Ragusa's Cathedral Square. This beautiful neoclassical building, built in 1850, has featured in various episodes. It first appeared in the episode "The Terracotta Dog," where Montalbano interrupts Dr. Pasquano during a card game. Its interiors were also used in "The Scent of the Night" to portray the "Re Mida" financial agency. Additionally, it's seen in the episode "The Paper Moon."
This elegant location is a testament to the rich architectural heritage that Ragusa offers to its visitors and Montalbano fans.
Santa Maria delle Scale Church:
The Church of Santa Maria delle Scale is not only a symbolic site in Ragusa but also offers one of the best views of the city. The 320 steps leading from the church to Ragusa Ibla have been frequently featured in Commissioner Montalbano episodes. Notably, a dramatic scene of a purse-snatching from an elderly lady in "The Cat and the Goldfinch" takes place here. This location also appears in episodes like "A Delicate Matter" and "The Catalanotti Method."
This church is a must-visit for its historical significance and its recurring role in the Montalbano series.
Da Calogero Trattoria (The “A Rusticana” Restaurant in Ragusa)
Commissioner Montalbano's great love for exquisite seafood cuisine is evident in the series. For his dinners, Adelina always prepares a meal, but for lunch, Montalbano's regular spot is Da Calogero Trattoria. Initially, the interior scenes were filmed at "A Rusticana" restaurant in Ragusa Ibla. Later, the setting moved to a seaside locale, the summer version of Da Calogero, which is the "Enzo a mare" restaurant situated on the seafront of the quaint village of Punta Secca.
Ibleo Garden: A Verdant Oasis in Ragusa Featured in Montalbano
The Ibleo Garden, Ragusa's main public garden, is a recurrent backdrop in various episodes of Commissioner Montalbano. The main entrance is notably featured in scenes where Salvo waits for Livia's bus arrival. In the episode "The Paper Moon," the garden transforms into an elegant nursing home where the commissioner meets an old thief. The episode "A Diary from '43" also culminates amidst the pathways of the Ibleo Garden, highlighting its scenic beauty and tranquility.
San Giovanni Cathedral and Square
San Giovanni Cathedral, the second cathedral of Ragusa located in the newer part of the city, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and features in "Commissioner Montalbano." One notable scene is in "The Potter's Field," where Salvo visits a shop under the church's portico.
Ragusa Post Office Building
The Post Office Building in Ragusa, a frequent location in the series, is an example of fascist architecture, inaugurated on October 30, 1938. It's notable in "The Excursion to Tindari," among other episodes, for its unique design and the nine statues on its top representing the provinces of Sicily.
Located on the outskirts of Ragusa, Cava Gonfalone is a significant site of industrial archaeology. It's where stone blocks were extracted to rebuild Ragusa after the 1693 earthquake. This site features in episodes like "As per Procedure," where Montalbano investigates a case linked to an abandoned quarry.
About 15 kilometers from Ragusa, Donnafugata Castle, a grand noble residence, has been a frequent location in the series. In "The Excursion to Tindari," its exteriors and interiors portray the home of Don Balduccio Sinagra. The castle's gardens and maze are also significant in the narrative.
Eremo della Giubiliana
In the episode "The Voice of the Violin," the reckless driving of Agent Gallo leads to a minor car accident near a villa, prompting Commissioner Montalbano to investigate. His intuition brings him back to the villa, where he discovers the body of Michela Licalzi. The chosen location for this scene is Eremo della Giubiliana, a 16th-century fortress-convent now transformed into an elegant hotel. This location also appears in episodes like "The Snack Thief" and "The Patience of the Spider."
This luxurious villa in Camemi, about 20 minutes from Ragusa, dates back to the 16th century but has undergone various transformations. Now, it's a blend of typical Iblean farmhouse and Hispano-Moorish architectural elements, used for weddings, meetings, and corporate events. In "The Shape of Water," it's portrayed as the home of Engineer Luparello.
Grotta delle Trabacche
In "The Terracotta Dog," Montalbano finds a mafia weapons cache in this cave, which also contains two skeletons, a terracotta dog, and a plate of coins. This cave near Ragusa is an important example of 4th-century funerary architecture.
Archaeological Museum of Kamarina
In "Salvo Amato, Livia Mia," a girl is found dead in Vigata's archive. Suspicion initially falls on Giorgio Scalia, with whom she had a relationship. Montalbano visits one of Scalia's lectures to question him. The University of Vigata scenes were shot at the Archaeological Museum of Kamarina in Scoglitti, near Ragusa.
Montalbano's Locations in Scicli: Scicli Town Hall
The Town Hall of Scicli is a recurring Montalbano location. Its ground floor, formerly the Chamber of Labor, permanently houses the offices of Montalbano and his deputy Mimì Augello. The mayor's room upstairs was used as the police chief's office. Palazzo Iacono, in Piazza Italia, represents the Montelusa Police Station's exteriors.
Cartia Pharmacy in Scicli
In the episode "The Scent of the Night," Montalbano visits Cartia Pharmacy to get a fake bandage for a head injury. This historic pharmacy dates back to 1902 and is located near Scicli's Town Hall. Since 2014, it has been converted into a museum, preserving antique pharmaceutical jars, bottles, scales, ceramics, and an old cash register.
Palazzo Spadaro, a historical building in Scicli, was constructed around 1700 and retains many original elements, including a Caltagirone ceramic tiled bedroom floor. In the Montalbano series, its interiors were used to depict the mayor's office in Vigata.
Cava San Bartolomeo and Chiafura District
Cava San Bartolomeo, one of three natural canyons in Scicli, extends from Piazza Italia through the city for about 500 meters, reaching the countryside. This area features the Church of San Bartolomeo, historic residences like Palazzo Iacono and Palazzo Fava, and the ancient Chiafura district. These picturesque Scicli locations appear in "Commissioner Montalbano," including the episode "The Terracotta Dog," where Salvo and Livia stroll during a village festival among jugglers and stalls.
Santa Maria la Nova Canyon
This canyon in Scicli features several key locations seen in "Commissioner Montalbano," including the churches of Consolazione, Rosario, and Santa Maria la Nova, recognizable from the series' opening sequence. The Rosario Convent features prominently in "The Wings of the Sphinx," where Montalbano and Fazio meet Father Pinna.
In Scicli, the Carmine Church's courtyard appears in "A Ray of Light," where Montalbano and Fazio meet with Luigina Castro for questioning. This location is also used in "The Young Montalbano" episode "The Third Secret."
Convent of the Cross
Situated in Scicli's upper part, this complex includes a convent, church, oratory, and two courtyards, offering a splendid view of Scicli. In "The Potter's Field," Catarella acts as Judas in a scene set in the convent's cloister and an exterior courtyard.
Commissioner Montalbano's House in Punta Secca
The most iconic location of the series is Montalbano's house in Punta Secca, a small district of Santa Croce di Camerina. Famous for scenes on its terrace and beach, the house serves as a bed & breakfast when not used for filming. Nearby is the frequently shown Punta Secca Lighthouse.
"Enzo a Mare" Restaurant
A favorite spot of Montalbano's in Punta Secca is the "Enzo a Mare" restaurant, known for its seafood. Locally referred to as "chalet," it gained fame as Montalbano's chosen dining spot, perfect for enjoying a meal with the sound of waves in the background.
Donnalucata's Seaside Promenade
In the series, Donnalucata, a coastal area of Punta Secca, becomes Marinella's promenade where Montalbano often takes walks or meets people. Palazzo Mormino Penna, a beautiful neo-Gothic building in Donnalucata, was used for Vigata's police station interiors in episodes like "The Terracotta Dog" and "The Shape of the Water."
Montalbano's Ispica Locations
The famous Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore in Ispica features the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore and a loggia by architect Vincenzo Sinatra. These locations are seen in episodes like "The Paper Moon" and "A Nest of Vipers." The church's interior appears in "The Wings of the Sphinx."
Larderia Catacombs in Ispica Quarries
In "The Patience of the Spider," Montalbano investigates a kidnapping case involving a ransom drop in a cave, which is actually the Larderia Catacombs in the Ispica Quarries. This valley, stretching about 13 kilometers between Modica and Ispica, features prehistoric necropolises, Christian catacombs, rock-cut oratories, monastic hermitages, and various residential structures.
This splendid Liberty-style palace, designed by architect Ernesto Basile, was used in "The Paper Moon" and "The Wings of the Sphinx." In the former, it becomes a jewelry store and a bank branch, while in the latter, it portrays a burned-down dye factory.
Bruno di Belmonte Villa
In "The Patience of the Spider," Montalbano visits this Liberty-style villa, known locally as "Casino," located in Ispica's southern area, to interview a young woman's classmate. The villa's staircase and interiors feature in the episode.
Punta Cirica (or Punta Ciriga)
Located 20 minutes from Ispica on the south coast of Sicily, Punta Cirica is a scenic location with cliffs, sandy beaches, caves, and sea stacks. It appears in the episode "The Treasure Hunt" where Montalbano visits a fishing village following a report of a body, which turns out to be an inflatable doll.
Montalbano's Locations in Modica
The imposing façade of the San Giorgio Cathedral in Modica, a Baroque masterpiece, features in several episodes. Montalbano often passes its staircase, and in "August Heat," he parks his car in front of it. The Cathedral's parvis faces Dr. Pasquano's house, as seen in "The Artist's Touch." Palazzo Castro-Polara Grimaldi, facing the Cathedral, is used as Dr. Pasquano's residence in the series.
Ex Jesuit College
In "Salvo Amato, Livia Mia," a young woman is found dead in the Vigata municipal archive, filmed at the former Jesuit College in Modica, now home to the Liceo Tommaso Campailla. This location also appears in "The Artist's Touch" and "The Track of Sand" as different settings.
Convent of Santa Maria del Gesù
In the same episode, Montalbano visits a charity associated with the victim, filmed at the Convent of Santa Maria del Gesù in Modica.
Montalbano's Noto Locations
In "The Mud Pyramid," the exterior of Palazzo Ducezio in Noto, a stunning Baroque building and current town hall, serves as the Narcotics headquarters.
Ex Monastery of San Tommaso (Vigata Prison)
The Ex Monastery of San Tommaso in Noto, now a prison, frequently appears in the series, particularly involving the character Pasquale, Adelina's son, often shown climbing the steps of this magnificent Baroque building.
Palazzo Nicolaci, a symbol of Noto's Baroque architecture with ornate balconies, is used in episodes like "The Artist's Touch" and "The Mud Pyramid." It portrays a notary's office and other settings.
Montalbano's Agrigento Locations: Valley of the Temples
An important meeting occurs in "As per Procedure" at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, showcasing its historical significance.
Luigi Pirandello's Tomb
In "Love," a special performance by the Di Giovanni couple, connected to theater, is held at Luigi Pirandello's tomb, located in the countryside near Agrigento, an area of symbolic value.
Montalbano's Locations in Comiso
In "Montalbano's Arancini," Montalbano investigates a couple's death, leading to the Sacro Cuore di Maria Orphanage, filmed at Comiso's former fish market, now home to cultural entities, including the Gesualdo Bufalino Foundation. Another notable site in Comiso is the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Stelle.
Other Montalbano Locations in Sicily
1. Scopello Tuna Fishery (Tonnara di Scopello): Featured in "The Sense of Touch," this is where Salvo and Livia stay during their investigation-cum-vacation. The old structure, now renovated into 15 apartments, offers a chance to stay near the sea. Nearby is the famous Rabbit Beach on Lampedusa and the backdrop of Favignana Island.
2. Secco Tuna Fishery (Tonnara del Secco): Located in San Vito Lo Capo, this location appears in "Turning Point," where Ingrid meets a lover. Nearby is the Chapel of Santa Crescenzia, another symbol of San Vito Lo Capo.
3. Mangiapane Cave of Custonaci: In "The Snack Thief," Montalbano meets François and his mother in this special location, a small village within a large cave, inhabited since the Paleolithic era and bustling annually with a live nativity scene.
4. Sanctuary of Tindari and Marinello Ponds: In "The Excursion to Tindari," the Sanctuary of Tindari and Marinello Ponds form the backdrop for the episode's conclusion, highlighting a local delicacy, black rice, prepared in honor of the Black Madonna of Tindari.
This charming village near Pachino is known for its picturesque square, which appears in "The Scent of the Night." Montalbano, followed by a black dog, crosses the square, passing the church to reach the waterfront.
Portopalo di Capo Passero
In "The Scent of the Night," key scenes were shot in this seaside town, including the Tonnara di Capo Passero and Tafuri Castle, where Montalbano visits a discredited witness.
Villa Fegotto in Chiaramonte Gulfi
This beautiful estate in Chiaramonte Gulfi features in several episodes. Scenes from "The Terracotta Dog" and "The Patience of the Spider" were filmed here, showcasing the villa's diverse settings.
Montalbano's Locations in Syracuse
In "Turning Point," Montalbano investigates human trafficking, with scenes shot in Ortigia, Syracuse's historic center, featuring landmarks like the Cathedral of Syracuse and Palazzo Vermexio. Brucoli's fishing village is also featured, especially its port scenes.
As we conclude our journey through the enchanting landscapes and historic sites of Sicily, immortalized by the "Inspector Montalbano" series, we are reminded of the rich tapestry of culture and history that Sicily offers. Each location, from the picturesque towns to the serene coastal villages, not only provides a backdrop for the beloved series but also stands as a testament to the island's enduring beauty and heritage. Our exploration has been a delightful blend of fiction and reality, inviting us to appreciate the deeper nuances of Sicily's charm. Whether a fan of Montalbano or a curious traveler, these destinations offer a unique window into the soul of this magnificent island.