1 The town – Porto Empedocle
This is the exact spot that inspired Inspector Montalbano writer Andrea Camilleri in his vision of Vigata – the fictional town in the bestselling novels and the TV series. In fact, residents are so proud of this connection that in 2003 they officially renamed their town Porto Empedocle Vigata. Three kilometres of sandy beaches are flanked by piercing white, ornate churches and pastel architecture. An impressive structure is a 16th-century tower commissioned to defend the town from pirates.
2 salvo’s seaside home – Punta Secca, Ragusa
Recognisable for its rugged coastline and the lighthouse seen in the opening titles, the quaint fishing village of Punta Secca is where visitors will find fictional Marinella, Salvo Montalbano’s seafront home. The building was once part of Punta Secca’s sardine fishing industry, but its current owners have turned it into a bed-and-breakfast and called it Casa di Montalbano.
“This beach is a striking, emblematic place,” says producer Luciano Ricceri, “and a hard one to forget.” It’s where we see Luca Zingaretti, who plays the strapping detective, swimming through the sea naked in the programme’s credits. “Marinella beach is in front of the detective’s home where he dives in to swim and think,” says Ricceri. “He takes the dive to shake the day off.”
This stretch of coastline and the beachside home have also featured in Young Montalbano, the prequel series shown recently on BBC4.
3 The viaduct – Ragusa
The title sequence of Inspector Montalbano swoops in from above these baroque twin hilltop towns, and onto the stunning 550m long Ponte Guerreri viaduct. In 1693, the town was split in two by an earthquake, but narrow streets and magnificent views remain. All of Salvo’s dates with Livia start at a bus stop in Ragusa Ibla.
“It is here that the bus departs from Vigata to bigger cities like Catania,” says Ricceri. “It’s a peculiar location, a pretty crossing in Ragusa Ibla.” The Santa Maria delle Scale church, featured in many shots in the series, is one of the most iconic buildings in the region.
4 The police station – Scicli
Palazzo di Città town hall doubles as Salvo’s police station. In the Piazza Busacca visitors will find his popular haunt, the trattoria da Calogero. “Montalbano often eats here while unraveling theories,” says Ricceri. The view over the piazza is impressive: “It is very charming, but slightly smaller than the town’s main piazza. It has a baroque touch and should be visited.”
5 Deadly Mannara – Sampieri
Many murder investigations take place on a strip of coastline known in the series as La Mannara. The skyline is dominated by an atmospheric, ruined brick factory, Fornace Penna in Sampieri. “It was burnt down by the Mafia 80 years ago,” says Ricceri. “We were filming at this archeo-industrial relic a few years ago and met an old man who used to work at the furnace.
“Cinematography is great here. It’s incredible that the chimney stack is still standing. It looks like something from a Tim Burton film. We often shoot here as it’s beautiful yet dark. Just perfect. The coast is chalky and the sea in winter creates beautiful holes and shapes in the rock.”
6 Mafia Don’s residence – Donnafugata Castle
Salvo often calls at the home of mafia boss Balduccio Sinagra and numerous scenes are shot on the terrace of this wonderful structure in the south of Sicily. Set in rolling countryside, among rocks and giant carob trees, the castle dates back to the mid-17th century.