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Plemmirio beaches and marine protected area

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Opened in February 2005, the Plemmirio Marine Protected Area (MPA).

has since its inception been a role model with regard to the management and protection of natural assets.
The establishment of the Plemmirio Consortium, the cooperative that manages the area, was strongly favored by the community and local associations, and marked a turning point in the management of the marine resort, leading to efforts to spread the culture of the environment, preserve biodiversity, and protect the interests of the local community.
Since 2004 the site has been classified as an ASPIM (Special Protected Area of Mediterranean Importance).

The protected territory, including 2,429 hectares of protected sea, extends over a perimeter of 14.35 km along the eastern coast of the Maddalena Peninsula.
The MPA is divided into three zones subject to diversified protection regimes, taking into account the different environmental characteristics and the socio-economic situation:
Zone A of integral reserve (80 ha) includes the stretch of sea adjacent to the coast of Capo Murro di Porco; – Zone B of general reserve (1470 ha) includes the stretch of sea along the coast between Cala di Massolivieri and Punta di Milocca.
Zone C of partial reserve (950 ha) includes the remaining stretch of sea, included in the territory of the MPA.

Protected marine area of ​​Plemmirio: the crossroads of the Mediterranean
Once an important crossroads for the passage of ships and vessels, the Plemmirio today hosts in its depths numerous finds dating back to past eras.
Not only that, located nearby of Syracuse, the territory itself is rich in traditions, mosaics, rock churches and towers, dating back to the time in which the city saw a succession of numerous rulers, from the Greeks to the Byzantines, from the Romans to the Arabs and the Normans, who each left their own  imprint.
During the Bronze Age, the Plemmirio was uninhabited for a long time by indigenous populations who settled in hut villages, today the subject of in-depth archaeological research.
Excavations have highlighted two groups of tombs cave, necropolis in which important funerary objects dating back to the XV-XIV century were found. B.C.
The tombs were also excavated on the ridges of the limestone coast of the peninsula. During the fifth century B.C. the Plemmirio and the port of Syracuse were the scene of bloody clashes between the Syracusans and the Athenians.
Between the mid-nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, the Plemmirio, an area that has always been destined for agriculture, began to host the rich holiday homes of the Syracusan bourgeoisie, splendid examples of human architecture merged with the local nature.
Symbol of the agricultural vocation of the site is the presence of numerous farms, dedicated to the production of wine, and, in particular, of the famous moscato di Syracuse.

The rocky bank of the peninsula has always been destined for the exploitation of stone quarries, material then used for the construction of temples for the worship of the ancient gods, and, in modern times, for the construction of the city cathedral.
Due to its extension on the open sea combined with the danger of shoals and meteorological variables, the Maddalena Peninsula posed many obstacles and challenges for the ancient sailors.
Among the points of greatest historical and cultural importance, the following deserve maximum attention: The “Grotta Pellegrina”, a place of refuge for prehistoric man, near which there are also two interesting cisterns for rainwater probably dating back to the 19th century;
– the necropolis of Punta della Mola, which stands near the remains of an ancient prehistoric village;
– the six latomies (extractive quarries from the ancient Greek era) along the coast, bearing witness to the ancient sub-urban district of Plemmyrion;
– in the vicinity of Capo Murro di Porco there are also immense complexes of underground tunnels used during the Second World War as anti-aircraft.
The marine area of ​​the Plemmirio MPA has always been the object of interest by numerous teams of research. Among the most interesting results, we can undoubtedly count the discovery of a group of bronzes near Punta del Gigante, fragments of a large number of amphorae of African and Byzantine origin.
In this sense, thanks to the efforts of the AMP, it was possible to revisit all the sites affected by archaeological finds, and the finds were georeferenced and inserted within the territorial information system of the Plemminio AMP.

Plemmirio Marine Protected Area (MPA): The Committee’s policy today
Since its formation in 2005, the Plemmirio Consortium has embarked on a slow, but constant, organizational path aimed at a transparent environmental policy, aimed at improving and preserving the environmental conditions of the region.
For this reason, the group’s policy is inspired by various key points, such as:
– the conservation of biodiversity through interventions to protect the marine and coastal habitats and ecosystems that occur in the regulation of the use of the sea and the coastal territory;
– the promotion of communication interventions aimed at spreading knowledge of the Plemmirio Marine Protected Area;
– sensitizing the local communities on the need to safeguard the coastal marine environments;
– educate future generations to respect the environment through educational campaigns aimed at schools;
– promote and is set up training programs aimed at creating specialist figures in the field of environmental protection and the use of disadvantaged categories;
– promote and develop scientific research programs aimed at environmental monitoring of the ecosystems and nature of the Area; Sensitization of users to compliance with the rules defined by the regulation that governs the methods of use of the Area, aiming at an environmentally friendly use of the same;
– collaboration with local economic operators aimed at developing those activities commercial activities compatible with the AMP.
Since its establishment, the Plemmirio Consortium has promoted initiatives and activities aimed at safeguarding the territory and enhancing the local heritage with the aim of establishing a model and development opportunity for the inhabitants of the MPA.

Protected marine area (AMP) of Plemmirio: the territory, the landscape, the flora and fauna
Already two millennia ago, Virgil sang of the beauty of Plemmirio (at the time Plemmyrion), the promontory which gave its name to ‘Marine Protected Area.
For most of the extension of the peninsula, the coastline, characterized by limestone rock, descends precipitously to the sea.
Despite this, the diversity of the environment is guaranteed by the presence of small beach lines, cliffs, caves, creeks and canyons, which constitute a remarkable variety of habitats for the organisms that inhabit the neighboring waters.
This same variety creates the premises for the installation of a rich biological heritage, today protected by the AMP.
The eastern coast, better known to the locals with the name of “island”, given its proximity to the city of Syracuse, has always been the subject of human interventions, as evidence of this, note how in just 6 kilometers of coast are concentrated human testimonies ranging from prehistory to the present day.
Starting from the seafront, the natural vegetation present on the mainland can be divided into parallel bands, each of which corresponds to a different ecological situation:
– the coastal area, continuously flooded by sea water, is home to rock-dwelling and pioneer species such as Salicornia glauca, a small edible woody perennial with very small leaves and thread-like stems rich in water and salt, and various species of the genus Limonium;
– moving away from the coast, salinity decreases and favors the development of shrub thyme (Thymus capitatus), particularly present on the north coast of the peninsula, dwarf palm (Chamaerops humilis) and spinaporci (Sarcopoterium spinosum). One of the most interesting species is the latter, a very branchy and thorny hemispherical bush with a Mediterranean-Eastern distribution. In autumn, the flowering of the Scilla Marittima (Urginea marittima), of the Saffron (Crocus longiflorus) and of the endemic Bulbous Iris (Iris planifolia) stand out;
– Moving more and more towards the interior, you can find the most evolved vegetation of the Marine area, the Mediterranean Maquis, composed of species with leaves with a hard and shiny surface to better reject the sun’s rays and limit water loss.
A variegated fauna of Vertebrates and Invertebrates, a real natural island where you can meet the fox (Vulpes vulpes), the weasel (Mustela nivalis), the wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), the green lizard (Lacerta viridis chloronata) the ocellated gongilus (Chalcides ocellatus tiligugu), the Charcoal Snake (Coluber viridiflavus xanthurus) and the endemic Sicilian Lizard (Podarcis wagleriana wagleriana).
Given the diversity of the seabed and the coast of Plemmirio, it follows an equally not evolutionary variety of the underwater landscape: extensive seagrass meadows, Posidonia oceanica, are here and there interrupted by more or less vast patches of sand swept by the rhythmic movement of the waves.
The structural peculiarities of the underwater environment (caves, rocks, canals, corridors, etc.) forming a multiform landscape, they guarantee an ideal place to ensure the remarkable biodiversity of the seabed. This extreme variety of habitats helps to shape an environment comparable in beauty to tropical marine landscapes.
Overall, the littoral system has marked Mediterranean characteristics:
– the border area between land and sea is characterized by the presence of particular bioconstructions called trottoirs or “vermeti sidewalks” by calcareous algae of the genus Lithophyllium in whose spaces and hollows other algae and sessile animals lurk including Annelids (marine worms) and Balanids (small crustaceans anchored to the rocks).
Algae of the genus Cystoseira and other brown algae such as the peacock tail (Padina pavonica), the Dictyota dichotoma and the Ectocarpus siliculosus cover the rocky bottoms.
The green algae are found both at this level and at greater depths where they can meet the characteristic and delicate sea umbrellas (Acetabularia mediterranea), on the overhanging rocks protected from the sun thrive Udothea desfontaini, which grows up to 20 meters deep, and the sea coin (Halimeda tuna), but also Ulva lactuca, Cladophora proliphera and others.
The red algae are present up to 130 meters deep and in the caves from whose walls the pink colonies of Retepora cellulosa and the bright red sprigs of the “false coral” Myriozoum truncatum protrude alongside extensions of polyp’s golden yellow of the madreporaria Leptosammia pruvoti.
The benthic organisms, both fixed and mobile, vary according to the type of base. In the sandy-muddy areas, burrowing animals abound such as Annelids Polychaetes, Molluscs, present with an enormous variety of species, small Fishes, especially blennies (Blennids) and gobies (Gobies), specialized in mimicry with the background environment.
The base with boulders, at the bottom of the rocky walls, constitute transition areas towards muddy and sandy bases. The rhizomes (leafless roots) of Posidonia oceanica take root among the boulders which, together with Zostera marina, more abundant in muddy conditions, give rise to real underwater meadows up to a depth of 30-40 metres.
On the leaves and on the rhizomes of these plants, hydroid polyps, bryozoans, ascidians, sponges, polychaetes and epiphytic algae find shelter and nourishment. Here also live sea anemones, crustaceans, gastropod molluscs, starfish and sea urchins typical of the Mediterranean such as Paracentrotus lividus and Arbacia lixula and fish such as Syngnathus acus (pipe fish) and the Hippocampus guttulatus (seahorse), the Muraena helena (moray eel) and still other organisms.
Starting from 3 meters of depth, the presence of Pinna nobilis, the castanets, is interesting, a protected mollusk whose shells can reach 80 cm in length.
Around the biological complexity of the littoral area of ​​Plemmirio, which constitutes their preferred environment, lives an unsuspected quantity of fish with wonderful colors and shapes, including some species of Serranids such as brown grouper (Epinephelus marginatus), sea bream, ( Serranus scriba and Serranus cabrilla), in Syracuse called “precchie di mare”, the pavonina damselfish (Thalassoma pavo), locally called knight fish, the damselfish (Chromis chromis), the red damselfish (Anthias anthias) and, again, the bream ( Diplodus sargus and Diplodus vulgaris), common saddled bream (Oblada melanura), damsel (Coris julis), parrotfish (Sparisoma cretensis) and scofani (Scorpaena porcus and Scorpaena scrofa).
The Plemmirio coast is populated even by larger fish much faster and more elusive therefore more difficult to observe precisely because they live in larger water spaces, so it is possible to observe mullet (Mugil cephalus), sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax), snapper i (Dentex dentex), sea bream (Sparus auratus), croakers (Sciaena umbra) and others.

Protected marine area of ​​Plemmirio: a fabulous tourist destination to visit!
The close link between natural resources and cultural resources translates into a formidable and very diversified tourist offer with new and important opportunities for the sustainable development of the Syracusan economic system.The northern area of ​​the MPA, affected by the work of man, is naturally predisposed to sustainable use.
A natural path, the Sentiero della Maddalena, about 10 km long, can be traveled from Punta Castelluccio to to the Capo Murro di Porco lighthouse.
It can be covered both on foot and by bicycle, alternating, along the way, rest stops in areas easily accessible to the sea.
The Path of the Maddalena, given the difficulty of the course, it is not recommended for children and skaters. For the intrepid, fatigue is eased by a constant scent of aromatic herbs, a splendid blue sea, a spectacular view of the rocky coast and, if you are lucky, a view of Etna with its plumes of smoke.
Tourists are offered an “agro-food itinerary” which, from the Port of Syracuse with the magnificence of the Island of Ortigia, leaves the center and, moving south, reaches the area affected by the Plemmirio Marine Protected Area.
In fact, along the 15 km of coast and sea, an itinerary rich in experiences unfolds in which, in addition to the natural, environmental and historical/cultural beauties, you will encounter agro-food companies of excellence.

Protected marine area of ​​Plemmirio: the current situation, contrasts and fishing
The creation of the Plemmirio MPA has represented an opportunity for development for the territory, but has also led to conflicts with the economic people involved, in first of all, the fishermen.
The establishment of standards that regulate their activities has brought with it numerous economic conflicts. Precisely in order to get to know the world of the Syracusan navy better, the Plemmirio Consortium has launched projects since the first years of its establishment in which an information and training phase was envisaged.
As part of these initiatives, among the Syracusan fishermen, those subjects who, due to the type of fishing, characteristics of the boats and fishing area, have always had an interest in the establishment of the Plemmirio MPA for the maintenance and compliance with the rules of use, and with whom it has been maintained in the years a constant relationship of collaboration and synergy.
Among the study projects, the “Determination of the Reserve Effect induced by the management of the Marine Protected Area on fish populations in relation to fishing activities and socio- economic” with the main objective of evaluating the effects of the protection regime of the Plemmirio Marine Protected Area on biodive and on the coastal fish communities, in relation to the fishing activity and the consequent socio-economic repercussions on the territory.
On the basis of the numerous studies conducted, it has been deduced that overall the fishing activity is called “recreational” if not correctly regulated and managed, could be an unsustainable activity in the long term.
Hence, the fundamental role of marine protected areas, where recreational fishing is precisely regulated and managed in such a way as to moderate the withdrawal made.
The authorizations to practice this activity within these protected areas are issued by the managing body itself. The fishing regulation is also based on the quantity and quality of the catch, as well as on the type of gear allowed.


Hi I’m Iolanda, In 2010 I decided to return to my magical island, Sicily, so that the experience gained in previous years would take shape there where I was born.

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