Tracing the footsteps of “Il Commissario Montalbano” – A Sicilian Adventure:
A repeat of the Inspector Montalbano drama series brings back lots of great memories of our holiday in Sicily.
After the first series of Inspector Montalbano, we became huge fans of this Sicilian detective drama as it is so different to NYPD Blue or any of the other American cop shows. We enjoy our weekly dose of the brooding Commissario Salvo Montalbano, a Vigata police inspector, assisted by his small band of detectives. Mimì, Fazio, Gallo, Galluzzo are members of the Vigata police force, with varying degrees of competence, and there’s the clumsy Catarella who mans the station’s phones and who is incredibly dim, yet likeable.
More than a Cop Show
We enjoy Inspector Montalbano, not just for Commissario Montalbano’s brilliant detective work and his great love of food, but the series always starts with sweeping views of ‘Vigata‘, ‘Montelusa‘, ‘Marinella‘, the Inspector’s house by the beach and the landmark lighthouse, all fictitious place names set on locations in the Province of Ragusa. And when Salvo, Mimi, Fazio and the rest of the team set out to investigate crimes, we are taken through the streets of Ragusa. So on our Sicilian holiday we went in search of Inspector Montalbano film locations.
Inspector Montalbano Film Locations
The Montalbano series was shot in locations like Punta Secca, Marina di Ragusa, Scicli and Modica, all of which have enjoyed a boost in tourism since the making of Montalbano. Tony and I are part of the tourism statistics.
From our hotel in Taomina, we drove down south to Syracuse and then west to Ragusa where we found ‘Marinella‘ and Montalbano’s house by the sea. ‘Marinella‘ is really Punta Secca, a small fishing village in the Santa Croce Camerina comune. The village has a lighthouse, a small port and an old watchtower (Torre Scalambri). The Punta Secca Lighthouse is the famous landmark that we see in each weekly series.
Nearby, we came across Caffetteria Montalbano, whose owner proudly shows us pictures of Luca Zingaretti in his caffetteria.
We then went in search of Palazzo Municipio, the Scicli Municipal Town Hall which was the set location for the Police Commissioner’s office and the Vigata police station. The City of Scicli is about 25 km from Ragusa. It is located in the coastal hills of Modica and is part of the Val di Noto geographical region of the Province of Ragusa.
At the Scicli Palazzo Municipio
We made our way up the stairways in the Municipal office and were quite expecting at anytime to be told that we’re not allowed in the building. We approached a serious looking, signora who was working at her desk. We explained to her that we had come from Sydney, Australia to see the Police Commissioner’s office. Whether she understood English or not, she didn’t say a word, but pointed us to a room and a police officer let us in.
Seeing the famous wall hanging and the desk, we knew we were in the right place. Ah triumph! We were quite surprised to be allowed into the mayor’s office and they didn’t even ask to see any identification. We were given free reign to take snaps around the place and our friendly police officer even offered to take a shot of the two of us at the famous desk.
The Palazzo Municipio has acquired a considerable reputation of having become a film-set for the “Il Commissario Montalbano” television drama and I suppose they must be quite used to curious tourists who want to see the film-set. And, come to think of it, in this part of the world they’d be more concerned about the mafia than terrorists.
We did a quick sightseeing walk around the city centre and then had to head back to Taomina. Scicli is a World Heritage site and there are lots of baroque churches, palaces and historical buildings to explore, not to mention the mysterious Donnafugata Castle (which in Italian means “kidnapped woman”) up on the hill.
If you’ve missed any parts of the series, you can buy Inspector Montalbano DVDs from: