cosy homes for creative people and travellers in sicily
Things to not miss in Syracuse:
01. Piazza Duomo Syracuse's showpiece square is a masterpiece in baroque town planning. A long, semi-elliptical piazza flanked by flamboyant palazzi, it sits on what was once Syracuse's ancient acropolis (fortified citadel). Little remains of the original Greek building but if you look along the side of the Duomo, you'll see a number of thick Doric columns incorporated into the cathedral's structure.
02 Greek Theater, Dioniso's Ear Grotto and Roman Amphitheater For the classicist, Syracuse's real attraction is this archaeological park, with its pearly white 5th-century-BC Teatro Greco . Hewn out of the rocky hillside, this 16,000-capacity amphitheatre staged the last tragedies of Aeschylus (including The Persians ), which were first performed here in his presence. In late spring it's brought to life with an annual season of classical theatre. The Orecchio di Dionisio , a 23m-high grotto extending 65m back into the cliffside, was named by Caravaggio after the tyrant Dionysius, who is said to have used the almost perfect acoustics of the quarry to eavesdrop on his prisoners.
Back outside this area you'll find the entrance to the 2nd-century Anfiteatro Romano , originally used for gladiatorial combats and horse races. The Spaniards, little interested in archaeology, largely destroyed the site in the 16th century, using it as a quarry to build Ortygia's city walls
03. Street Market Held every morning except Sunday, it is everything one expects an Italian market to be: there is always a lot of shouting and gesticulating and wonderful (as well as less wonderful) smells. It is sells authentic produce, much of it from the region: herbs, tomatoes, ripe blood-red oranges, deep purple aubergines, bright red chilli peppers and lemons. This type of animated market was common in Sicily’s big cities until fairly recently. The best-known ones are probably those in Palermo – the Ballarò and the Vucciria, which was immortalised in a painting by Renato Guttuso but unfortunately has been left to die. This hasn’t happened in Syracuse, however – maybe because of large tour groups that navigate the market’s one small windy street. That’s a good reason to go early: to precede the crowds and to experience the market untainted.
04. Burial of St. Lucy by Caravaggio Is a painting by the Italian artist Caravaggio. It is located in the church of Santa Lucia alla Badia located on the Piazza Duomo. Caravaggio had escaped from prison on Malta in 1608, fleeing to Syracuse. There his Roman companion Mario Minniti helped him get a commission for the present altarpiece. Caravaggio painted it in 1608, for the Franciscan church of Santa Lucia al Sepolcro. The choice of subject was driven by the fact that St. Lucy was the patron saint of Syracuse and had been interred below the church.
05. Latomie dei Cappuccini The contrast between the idyllic beauty of the garden, created by the Capuchin monks in this former quarry, and the dizzyingly sheer cliffs that surround it, has fascinated visitors to this site for centuries, to the point that it was included as "must see" of the "Grand Tour" in Italy. Additionally, this quarry started as a stone quarry, but aside from signs of human activity also shows signs of the force of nature, including earthquakes, landslides, and erosion, in addition to an explosion of lush greenery, giving this site a rather "wild" and sometimes "lunar" appearance that cannot fail to strike the imagination. There are also two breathtaking open air theaters that animates the "movida" of the summer nights
06. Pista ciclabile is a former rail track in disuse in the North of Syracuse, recently transformed in a Linear Park along the sea. Is also an open air sculpture museum park and has some access to the beach (Solarium Ru Frati) during summer time. Very much enjoyable in the early morning or just before the sunset.
07. Catacombs of St. John A block north of the archaeological museum, this vast labyrinth of 10,000 underground tombs dates back to Roman times. A 30-minute guided tour ushers visitors through the catacombs as well as the atmospheric ruins of the Basilica di San Giovanni , Syracuse's earliest cathedral.
08. Maniace Castle Guarding the island's southern tip, Ortygia's 13th-century castle is a lovely place to wander, gaze out over the water and contemplate Syracuse's past glories. It also houses occasional rotating exhibitions.
09. Euryalus Castle (the name comes from a Greek word, eyryélos, which means "shaped like a nail") of Syracuse is the largest castle dating back to Greek times that survives until the present day and one of the most important Greek monuments in Sicily. The castle was built by Dionysius the Elder in six years, between 402 and 397 B.C., a time during which Syracuse was preparing for the inevitable clash with the Carthaginians for control of eastern Sicily. You will get lost in the excavated tunnels underground and immagine yourself in the ancient greek time.
10. Archeological Museum Paolo Orsi About 500m east of the archaeological park, this modern museum contains one of Sicily's largest and most interesting archaeological collections. Allow plenty of time to investigate the four sectors charting the area's pre-history, as well as Syracuse's development from foundation to the late Roman period. The exhibition and the curatorial selection is obsolete, but we also like the fact that the museum kept the original setting of the 70's design with his masterpieces.
11. Our Lady of Tears Sanctuary Designed to evoke a gigantic teardrop and at the same time a tent for the Pilgrims. The Shrine was designed by two French Radical Architects, Michel Arnault and Pierre Parat in 1966 and finally built in 1994. It houses a small statue of the Madonna that miraculously wept for 3 days in 1953. Alleged chemical tests showed that the liquid was similar to that of human tears. Pilgrims still flock here. The contemporary conical structure dominates the skyline, rising 74m (243 ft.) with a diameter of 80m (262 ft.). The concrete structure dome is spectacular from inside and You might get dizzy looking up at the vertical windows stretching skyward to the apex of the roof.
12. Pantalica The Necropolis of Pantalica in southeast Sicily, Italy, is a collection of cemeteries with rock-cut chamber tombs dating from the 7th to the 13th centuries BC. There have been thought to be over 5000 tombs. They extend around the flanks of a large promontory located at the junction of the Anapo river with its tributary, the Calcinara, about 23 kilometres northwest of Syracuse.