AVOLA - East Sicily
The geographical location of Avola allows you to soak up the culture and enchanting atmosphere of this historical city and quickly reach all tourist itineraries of the area: Noto, capital of Baroque, is only 8 km far from the city. Syracuse, with its Greek monuments and medieval village and its very important Museum, is 20 km far. In 30 minutes you can reach the famous Lakes of Cava Grande di Cassibile and in 20 minutes the Natural Reserve of Vendicari. Even the town of Scicli, Ragusa Ibla, Palazzolo Acreide and Modica are wonderful to visit and easy to reach too. The town of Avola is characterized by a wide green plain which stretches from the last spurs of the Monti Iblei to the Ionian Sea. The town has a very peculiar hexagonal layout and five squares and shows many Art-Nouveau buildings. As several of the other beautiful towns in this corner of Sicily, Avola’s main attraction is its architectural appearance which is dominated by the ubiquitous baroque design. Avola is also known for its beautiful surrounding nature which is primarily dominated by almond trees. The cultivation of almonds is very widespread and especially a variety, the pizzuta d`Avola, which was selected thanks to the wise work of Giuseppe Bianca, a local botanical from the last century. It is a variety with precocious flowering, pink petals: a perfect fruit for confectionery, but very demanding from a climatic point of view, in fact it blooms only on the southern slopes of the Mountains Iblei. The grounds devoted to citrus fruit are also substantial. Avola is famous for the black grape win. Nero d’ Avola, the prince of all Sicilian wines. Nero d’Avola is a brilliant red ruby wine intense and harmonious with an aroma of liquorice, but also of fruits, chocolate and tobacco. a wine with incredible properties, appreciated all over the world, and especially Sicilian Italian excellence, strongly linked to the territory.
The currency of the Byzantine Abolla, from which could derive the current city, had a bunch of grapes to celebrate its wines. The territory has always been devoted to grapes and Nero d’Avola, a wine made from this grape, is a product of excellence appreciated not only in Italy, but from the international market. The almond colture spread out in the mid-nineteenth century thanks to the studies of Joseph White.
In early February the almond blossom is a wonderful sight. The most cultivated variety is the Pizzuta which gives an excellent product appreciated all over the world. Particularly fresh and healthy are almond milk and granite; delicious cookies, marzipan fruit and inimitable confetti.
The coat of arms
The coat of arms of Avola is a shield surmounted by a golden crown set with emeralds and pearls, with two cornucopias filled with fruits and leaves tied down by a green ribbon. The shield is made of three elements: the band, the cross and the bees. The curved band of gold color divides it into two camps, one upper including the white cross on a red background and a bottom with three golden bees on a blue background.
The foundation of Avola in an area previously inhabited by the Sicani and invaded by the Sicels in the 13th-12th centuries BC, is perhaps connected to the city of Hybla Major. Hybla was the name of a pre-Greek divinity, later identified with the Greek Aphrodite. The Greeks colonized the in the 8th century. When the Romans conquered Sicily in 227 BC, the city of Syracuse maintained some autonomy in the control of the area, which lasted until the Second Punic War (212 BC). Hybla disappeared in the early Middle Ages, and the territory started to be repopulated during the Islamic domination of Sicily (9th-11th centuries). However, the village near what is now Avola appeared only during the Norman or Hohenstaufen rule (12th-13th centuries). Like much of south-eastern Sicily, Avola was destroyed by an earthquake in 1963, and was refounded in a new location of the coast, under the design of friar architect Angelo Italia, having a geometrical and regular plan. Along the main road that goes to Syracuse is situated a megalithic monument, so-called “pseudo- dolmen” because of natural origin but adapted, in the prehistory, to experimental architectural elaboration.
Originally the town (Avola Antica) was built on a small hill, but the extensive and devastating earthquake in 1693 meant that the city had to be reconstructed on another site. Therefore it was relocated on a plain not far from the sea by the Marquis of Avola Nicolo Pignatelli Aragona Cortes, nephew of Pope Innocent XII. The design of the new urban center was entrusted to Angelo Italia, the great architect and Jesuit monk in Palermo, who proposed a structure rigidly geometric, with a cross with four squares and four doors, and a plant perfectly hexagonal. Private buildings had a strong increase in the first decades of the ‘900 preferring the Liberty style. The city meanwhile revalues its cultural and environmental heritage and discovers its tourism.