Village and beaches with an exquisitely Mediterranean character
The town of Santa Croce Camerina is the heir to the Greek colony Kamarina, founded by the Syracusans in the 6th century BC, and Kaucana. The remains of the two ancient settlements are located in the Kamarina Archaeological Park and Kaukana (or Caucana) on the coast a few kilometers from the center.
The present settlement developed from the late 1500s when Marquis Giovanni Battista Celestri founded the town under the name Santa Croce. The most important monuments in the center are the Mother Church and some noble palaces that make the center stately.
Santa Croce Camerina is an important destination for beach tourism thanks to the hamlets of Casuzze, Finaiti, Caucana, Punta Braccetto, and especially Punta Secca. The latter is a well-known and beloved location because on the village’s beach is Montalbano’s House, the cottage in which the home of Commissioner Salvo Montalbano was set. The house is a popular b&b and big attraction for tourists from all over the world.
A short walk from the home of the most famous police commissioner is the restaurant “Enzo a mare,” another TV location linked to Montalbano. Television fiction in Punta Secca has become reality. In fact, even the restaurant is a real place where one can have lunch and dinner while reliving the atmosphere of Camilleri’s Vigata.
What to see in Santa Croce Camerina
House of Montalbano
In the early 1900s, on the beach where we now find Montalbano’s House, there was a warehouse for processing fish. The warehouse was bought by lawyer Diquattro, who decided to turn it into the family’s summer residence. When Rai decided to film the series “Il commissario Montalbano,” the exceptional terrace overlooking the sea was chosen to set the commissioner’s house, transforming the villa into one of the most photographed and dreamed of places in Italy. Today it is a b&b and it is not uncommon to see guests enjoying the terrace and the view.
The Punta Secca tower is located in front of Montalbano’s House and is another of the locations of Il commissario Montalbano. The defensive structure by the sea dates back to the 16th century and is on three levels. From this fortification soldiers controlled the sea and communicated with other defensive towers in the territory in case of danger.
Lighthouse Square and Enzo a Mare
At the center of Punta Secca stands a tall lighthouse that bisects the waterfront. Next to the lighthouse, on the east beach, you will notice a curious yellow and blue building: it is the Enzo a Mare restaurant. In this small restaurant, the commissioner likes to dine pampered by the waves of the sea. If in Montalbano’s Vigata the restaurant is frequented by the commissioner, in reality it is open to anyone who wants to eat in a movie atmosphere.
Kamarina Regional Museum
The Kamarina park and museum hold valuable exhibits of marine and terrestrial archaeology. The remains of the temple of Athena located in the acropolis of the ancient city, the defensive walls and the necropolis tombs are still recognizable. The museum, housed inside a late 19th century farmhouse, contains remains of the city and especially amphorae, vases and shipwrecks found at sea.
The Mother Church of Santa Croce Camerina is dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The church dates back to the 1600s, but the current structure is the result of renovations in the late 1700s and 1800s. Inside it holds a copy of Caravaggio’s Madonna of Loreto attributed to painter Martin Faber and a statue of the patron saint St. Joseph, who is celebrated with a great feast every year.
Palaces of Santa Croce Camerina
Palazzo Vitale-Ciarcià, palazzo Rinzivillo-Portelli, palazzo Carratello and palazzo Celestri-Sant’Elia-Arezzi are the oldest and most stately palaces in Santa Croce. Palazzo Pace, a great example of early 20th-century Art Nouveau architecture, deserves a mention.
Sea and Nature in Santa Croce Camerina: beaches and excursions