parallax background

The Hyblean agricultural landscape

February 6, 2021
The Quarry of Sant’Antonio at Melilli
February 8, 2021
Ph. © Lorenzo Attardo

The Hyblean agricultural landscape

In order to recognise the basic characteristics that make up the identity of a place, such as the invariables of the countryside, we have to pinpoint its special elements; the territorial and urban structures, the local economic systems, aspects of the farming landscape, socio-cultural models and the relationship between all of these, especially those relationships that haven’t altered over time and which make up the heritage of that territory.
The particular structure of the limestone plateau of the Hyblean Hills is the main invariable of the countryside of Siracusa and Ragusa, even to the untrained eye. The recognisability of this landscape is made up of morpho-typological constants such as the limestone plateaus where the traditional farming landscape is characterized by the presence of ‘masserie’, fortified farmhouses; deep river canyons ‘cave’ and gorges where the difficult access has determined the survival of many habitats of great environmental importance and niches of vegetal biodiversity with the presence of numerous endemic plants; the coastal plains where we find sites of exceptional environmental and naturalistic importance such as the nature and coastal reserves, wetlands, and sites of great archeological interest (Megara Hyblaea, Thapsos, Eloro, the Tellaro valley, the Carosello Valley, Kamarina), which are the remains of a landscape that is today under great pressure from urban sprawl, and the industrial, tourism and hospitality sectors.
Closely associated with the limestone plateau is the presence of the characterising Oleo-Ceratonion vegetation (olive and carob trees), often found growing in the space left in abandoned fields.
The most characteristic aspect of the Hyblean environment of south-eastern Sicily is agriculture, with its typical morphology of hillside cultivation of vines, carob trees and olives, and animal rearing in open fields, usually of small and medium size; good practise in management, and an abundant availability of water, has permitted the evolution over time of a production system that is more efficient and effective when compared to the latifundia system based on grain cultivation, typical of western Sicily.
Farm production today is the result of the farming history of the Hyblean Hills, it has a particular specificity and is a homogenous unit of special vulnerability; the high quality of some of the produce has led to the official recognition of their quality at national and European level, in full respect of the relevant EU regulations.
SV600043 (Small)
imm. 145 (Small)
The collective commerce quality awards that have been obtained identify and protect the territory and its vocation for that specific type of production. This recognition, over and above any economic and productive advantage gained for the farming sector, takes on the role of incentive for the maintenance of farming itself, which only by respecting the conditions set out in the production regulations, by following the traditional farming techniques, can maintain this recognition of quality. It is fundamental that these awards encourage the conservation of the germoplasma of the single species; olive oil is one such example, where the cultivation across the province is divided into zones with specific cultivars, characteristic of the particular productive zone. We should never forget that Sicily was the first region in the history of the Ancient World where Phoenicians and Greeks systematically grew olives.
These quality awards, when applied to farm produce from a specific place whose qualities are substantially or exclusively the result of that geographical area of production, immediately spread their effects over the farming landscape of reference, which is protected and promoted.
The Hyblean landscape produces an olive oil and a cheese ‘of protected origin’ or D.O.P. ; D.O.P. Olive Oil Monti Iblei and D.O.P. Ragusano Cheese; there are three examples of ‘protected geographical indication’ or I.G.P.; I.G.P. Blood Oranges of Sicily, I.G.P. Tomatoes of Pachino, I.G.P. Lemon of Siracusa; various wines including D.O.C. Vino Eloro, D.O.C. Vino Moscato di Noto, D.O.C. Vino Moscato di Siracusa, are ‘of controlled origin’ or D.O.C. and the D.O.C.G. Vino Cerasuolo di Vittoria is of 'controlled and guaranteed origin'. The Melon of Pachino, Almond of Avola, Carot of Ispica are in the process of recognition.
Marzo 2020

Agronomo e paesaggista, specializzato in divulgazione agricola. Progettista e direttore dei lavori di sistemazione a verde di numerosi parchi pubblici e giardini privati e del restauro di diversi sentieri natura e di forestazione nel territorio ibleo. Socio fondatore e primo Presidente della Sezione Sicilia dell’Associazione Italiana di Architettura del Paesaggio, attualmente è componente della Speciale Commissione “Osservatorio Regionale per la qualità del paesaggio in Sicilia”. Premio nazionale “Città per il verde” nel 2000 e nel 2013, ha ricevuto una menzione speciale dal Ministero dei Beni Culturali nella candidatura al V Premio del Paesaggio del Consiglio d’Europa per il progetto di recupero degli antichi percorsi e valorizzazione dei paesaggi delle cave nel Val di Noto.

Agronoma e paesaggista, socia dell’Associazione Italiana di Architettura del Paesaggio, da Dirigente della Soprintendenza Beni Culturali di Siracusa, ha coordinato gli aspetti tecnico-scientifici del Piano paesaggistico della provincia e ha collaborato alla perimetrazione del Parchi archeologici di Siracusa, Eloro e Leontinoi. Ha progettato e diretto i lavori di valorizzazione del giardino storico del Museo archeologico Paolo Orsi di Siracusa. Ha svolto attività di ricerca scientifica sulla vegetazione dell’area archeologica della Neapolis e sul verde naturalistico per il Piano di risanamento ambientale di Priolo e Augusta.