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Pantalica, a Necropolis dating back over Three Thousand Years

April 6, 2012

In the southeastern part of Sicily, there is a Special Nature Reserve, in the “Iblei plateaux”, which was formed by layers and layers of calcareous sediments and volcanic activity.  This geological structure is one of its kind in Sicily.  Visiting this area one encounters canyons and river valleys with a unique biodiversity due to the humidity and flowing of nearby waters. The main waterway is the Anapo river, which flows into the Ionian sea close to Siracusa. One of  the sites which belongs to the Special Nature Reserve, just 50 kilometers from Siracusa, is the necropolis of Pantalica.

I had meant to visit Pantalica for a while and finally did so this week.  Driving from Siracusa, I took the highway to Sortino.  I followed the signs to Pantalica and reached the northern entrance to the site.  It was a sunny day and the natural habitat so enchanting, with all the Spring flowers bursting and adding to the richness of colors.

Pantalica is a rocky necropolis with burial sites excavated in the sheer rocks  of a calcareous formation dating back over three thousand years.  It was the burial site of a small kingdom, Hybla being the capital.  The small kingdom encompassed a small area of this region between the thirteenth and the eighth centuries B.C.

Below are a few pictures I took in Pantalica.


This is the path one walks down to the bottom of the canyon.  Quite rocky!!!

Rocky path in Pantalica

Bat Cave in Pantalica

As I was leaving the Pantalica site, I stopped to talk to the park ranger.  He recommended I drive down to the Anapo River Valley and take a walk along the river in that part of the reserve.  I did so and enjoyed another aspect of this natural habitat, down below close to the waters, with a plush vegetation due to the higher humidity.

Recently, my Sicilian cousin, Francesca, sent me an excerpt of a book written by a Sicilian writer, Vincenzo Cunsolo.  The book is entitled “Le Pietre di Pantalica”, my translation, The Rocks of Pantalica .  Vincenzo Cunsolo was born in Palazzolo Acreide, not far from Pantalica, but he moved to the north of Italy where he lived and worked.

I would like to share the excerpt from Cunsolo’s book in its original Italian version and will then write my translation of  it into English below.

“Io non so che voglia sia questa, ogni volta che torno in Sicilia, di volerla girare e girare, di percorrere ogni lato, ogni capo della costa, inoltrarmi all’interno, sostare in città e paesi, in villaggi e luoghi sperduti, rivedere vecchie persone, conoscerne nuove. Una voglia, una smania che non mi lascia star fermo in un posto. Non so. Ma sospetto sia questo una sorta d’addio, un volerla rivedere e toccare prima che uno dei due sparisca…”

“I do not understand this longing I have, each time I return to Sicily, to travel around and around, to go to each side, each end of the coast, to travel inland, to stop at cities and towns, villages and off the beaten path.  It is a wish to revisit old friends and meet new ones.  It is a desire, a restlessness that doesn’t allow me to stand still in one place.  I don’t know. Perhaps this may be some sort of good bye, a wish to see it all and touch it all before one of the two disappears.”

Vincenzo Cunsolo passed away recently, on January 21st, 2012.

  1. Pamela De Leon permalink

    Vincenzo had it right, the longing to see and travel, again and again, one’s homeland. How beautiful a passage. How old was he when he passed away?


    • He was 79 years old when he passed away and 55 years old when he published the book, “Le Pietre di Pantalica.”


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