Off the Beaten Path: Scala di Turchi - Glaring White Rock Stairs on the Sicilian Coast
There are places on this Good Earth that obviously have the Hand of God in their making--otherwise, how would they be so uniquely beautiful? Italy has many of these wonders of nature and one of the more amazing sights to see and experience is la Scala dei Turchi (Stair of the Turks). You will find the stark white Scala cliffs on the western third of the southern coast of Sicily in Realmonte near the town of Porto Empedocle.
Formed by a sedimentary rock called marl, its crisp white color is whiter even than the two sand beaches which embrace its east and west boundaries. The constant action of waves, wind and weathering over the course of millennium have carved the shape of steps into the cliff, creating a sun worshipers' magnet during the hot summer months. The natural landmark drew invasions from the Moors from northern Africa, the Saracens and Turkish pirates, thus the name.
The municipality of Realmonte has applied for UNESCO Heritage Site listing, even though the Scala seem to be privately owned by an aging pensioner who has placed signs warning that he will not be liable for any injuries that occur on the site. His signs are largely ignored...
Most of the time the Scala appears to be a snow white, slanted layer cake, while at other times of the day the color of the cliffs can change dramatically from pink to orange to yellow and even blue. Unlike the White Cliffs of Dover in England (made of chalk), the Scala's geology is made of a sedimentary limestone and clay. Its stairs are soft and rounded and very precarious, but are still visited by many people who climb and sun themselves on the Scala.
The Scala di Turchi are located just west of the beach town of Punta Grande and all the way past Lido Rosello for about two miles, but more white cliff formations dot the coastline from past Capo Rosello for another 10 miles or so until the archeological site of Eraclea Minoa. The area of a mix of rugged and forested nature preserves, campgrounds, golf courses, sandy beach towns and a few world class resort "village" complexes.
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