In Syracuse, with a closer look at the scenery, you will see what the Corinthians found in this particular place and why they chose these shores. The first name given to Syracuse, Syraka, supposedly means abundant in water, and that is a precious clue. The sweet waters of the Fountain of Arethusa, and the Anapo and Ciane rivers (on the outskirts of the city), may best explain why Syracuse grew into the biggest city of all the Greek colonies. These springs irrigate a luscious vegetation that is in good part indigenous. Here, you will find the renowned papyrus, which does not grow naturally anywhere else in the country.
The Fountain of Arethusa offers the best angle to admire the Porto Grande, one of the biggest natural harbours of the Mediterranean, enclosed by the island of Ortigia itself and the peninsula of Maddalena.
Whitin the rocky perimeter of Ortigia, the Corinthians built their places of worship. The island is to this day the most historic part of the city. Ortigia will teach you how to tell west from east winds, Greek reminiscences from Arabic architecture.
All the points of interest of Ortigia are in the vicinity of the hotel; some of them are: the Temple of Apollo, transformed into a church in the Byzantine times and in mosque during the Arabic times, the Duomo, the cathedral built upon the Greek temple of Athena of the 5 century b.C., the Maniace Castle, an example military architecture of the emperor Frederick II.
On the mainland, modern Syracuse is quite smaller than its extension in the classical times, when it was known as the Pentapolis. But the golden age has not been forgotten and you can get a sense of that time at the Neapolis Archeological Park (where you will find the Greek theatre and the Roman amphitheatre), at the Paolo Orsi Archeological Museum, and at the open sections of the very extended catacombs and the latomie, the Greek quarries where slaves and prisoners of war were kept. In particular, the Latomia of the Capuchins, with its monastery and the close bicycle lane, is worthy visiting.
Ortigia offers a few spots to sunbathe and swim (all 5-10 minutes away from the hotel). If you have a car, we recommend a drive southward and a visit to the best beaches of our coast, such as Fontane Bianche and Arenella (15-20 minutes away), or to the little cove of Ognina. The Lido di Noto can also be the first leg into an expedition in the Noto valley, which is comprised of Noto, Modica, Scili, and Ragusa. Further south, you can also enjoy the sun of Marzamemi, a little fishing village, and see some local colour from the tip of the island.
Tours and Activities
- Natural Reserve Excursions (Pantalica, Cava Grande, Cava Carosello, Vendicari) – info here
- Ortigia from another angle – the’Mindful’ walks – nice info here
- Ciane river canoe tours – Circle Nautico Ciane – telephone 327 1056230
- Discover the Etna terroir – winery and wine tasting tours – contact Natalie Guziuk at 339 6008704
- Italian Courses – more info here
Nature and Events
If you enjoy a good excursion, we suggest the natural reserves of Casagrande del Cassibile and Vendicari, which are both located south of Syracuse. We will be happy to give you more details and help you plan your day in the nature. You can also see more of Syracuse’s environs choosing gozzo – a typical wooden boat – over car, and then either sail to the marine reserve of Plemmirio or to the sea caves north of Ortigia.
Syracuse hosts an array of cultural events. Every year, the Istituto Nazionale del Dramma Antico stages two tragedies from the classical tradition at the Greek theatre, which have consistently been Italy’s highest-grossing theatrical productions. While the Ortigia Film Fest and Ortigia Sound System Festival are also worthy mentioning, Saint Lucy’s feast, which spans over two Sundays (the first two of May), is probably the event that resonates the most with the locals.