Sicily it seems, is not just for the Mafia anymore. Who would have thought that this island would be home to a utopia like world class sport climbing destination perched above the azzure Mediterranean waters? Compared to other European mainland sport climbing venues, San Vito lo Capo stands out for many reasons. It is dirt cheap. The food is some of the tastiest in all of Europe, the weather is ideal and the stone some of the best imaginable. No matter if you climb 5c/10a or 8a/13b, you’ll have plenty of five star routes to play on – all stacked on top of one another at various cliffbands. There are even multi-pitch routes on the walls of Monte Monaco directly behind town.
Getting there is easily done by flying into Palermo via RyanAir, renting a car and driving 90, surprisingly relaxing, minutes to the village of San Vito lo Capo on the northwest tip of the island. In my mind, Sicily was going to be chaos and a terrifying automobile experience. In fact, it was the opposite. Chaos came later at the produce stand. In the village proper of San Vito, we rented a nice apartment in late March for four people/one week, €250. Hard to beat. Much of the climbing is done within a 10 minute drive from the seaside resort village, a car is convenient although it is possible to walk to some of the more popular crags.
There is a Climbing Guide especially for Sicily and the San Vito info seemed to be pretty much spot on. But, I don’t remember seeing it, or any climbing gear, available in San Vito. Come well stocked. More recently developed areas have topos hanging at the crag, and as is typical of climbers everywhere, word spread quickly about what was worthy of visiting. Seems much of the development has been done by visiting German & Austrian climbers, the same nations providing the vast majority of visitors.
The rock is limestone and comes in all varieties, from tufa stuffed caves, to pocketed walls, slabs, stalactites, and even cracks. Some of the limestone is of such high quality and so compact, it almost appears as granite. Bolts & anchors, thanks to the Germans, are big, bomber and well placed. Overall, it is a place to climb hard and push yourself. And did I mention cappuccinos are still €1?
In the evening, hang at a local restaurant for freshly caught seafood. We discovered Ristorante Agora in the main part of the village and felt there was little reason to go anywhere else. Don’t miss the Insalata di Polipo, Branzino, house made pasta and then for desert, the Ricotta Mandorle. And you thought Italian food was the best…? The Sicilians really do take food to an even higher level.
Of course visiting later than April adds swimming in the clear Mediterranean to the list of to do’s. From many of the crags, this is an option in less than 5 minutes walk.
San Vito lo Capo Climbing Information & Beta
70 meter rope – 18 quickdraws
We were warned about lots of car break ins, we saw no evidence of such, but be warned.
Bring warm clothes for climbing in the caves or shade – it’s surprisingly cool near the water.
Apartments, B&B’s and Hotels are all readily available. Apartments offer the option of cooking, but then really, why would you want to do this?
Season seems to be March – mid June, then again September & October. The locals swore it wasn’t too hot in the summer, but the locals don’t climb.