When you drive up to the town for the first time, you will be captivated by the panoramic views along the way and from the town. It might seem far up the first time you go, but you can easily go up and down and reach the nearest beaches in Capo d'Orlando approx. 15 km away when you want to swim in the sea.
There are no big hotels here, or other forms of organized accommodation, and you won't find receptionists that speak English, or German. However ,what you will find is a warm hospitality that comes natural to the locals, rather than it being their profession.
San Marco is famous throughout Italy for its fantastic red marble. The warm red rocks found in the area have been used throughout the ages to build churches and monuments even in the Greek and Byzantine periods. As soon as you drive into town, you will find a small church, which is actually a Greek temple from the 5th century BC, which was subsequently converted to the Christian denomination. From the temple and up to the town centre, you will not be impressed by the 4 and 5-storey buildings dating from the 70's and 80's ... but then once you get passed this point you enter into the pedestrian area of Via Aluntina, it becomes a lot more pleasant. Along the Via Aluntina you will find both steps up and down which take you along some quaint and charismatic alleyways. Locals gather at two or three cafes along this road, where there is also a well known restaurant whose chef has decided to work only some nights a week (it's called La Macina, and it's hard to tell in advance whether it is open or closed). Another restaurant you will find in the high part of the town is La Fornace, where Pippo and his wife will serve you good food, a reasonable prices and also large portions.
Read more about San Marco d'Alunzio
The town sits approx. 550 metres above sea level on has panoramic views every day, you can see the different blue tones of the sea. From many places along Via Aluntina from the main square by the castle and from most squares in front of the church there are beautiful views of the countryside or the sea. You can usually enjoy the view of the cliffs that stretches all the way to Cefalù and the Aeolian islands to the north.
If you go further up the slope behind the town, approx 2 - 3 miles, you come to a stretch of road known as Belvedere. From here you can be lucky enough to see all the way to the island of Ustica (especially in spring and autumn). If you are in good shape you can walk or cycle even further up to Rocche del Crasto which is the highest point in the area.
It's a small and cosy town so you will always be close to some other people. Don't be surprised if someone stops you and asks where you come from, or what you are doing etc. It's that type of quirky place. You may even be offered a glass of wine when you are in the butchers!
In the town you will find some wonderful speciality shops including "La Tela di Penelope" where you can find the finest woven products and local handicraft. On the main street you’ll find a wonderful little enoteca, with a great selection of quality Sicilian wines, honey, delicious marmalades, freshly cut ham and Nero di Nebrodi (the black pig from the Nebrodi mountains) sausages, plus lots of wonderful cheeses.
Rent a car (or a donkey ...) when you are on holiday in San Marco d'Alunzio - the public transport system will not be enough to enjoy the area fully. It is approx. 2 hour drive from Palermo and Catania airports to here, but the majority of the journey is on the highway.