Before visiting Sicily for the first time, I was longing to see what it was that made people proclaim this island was so uniquely different to mainland Italy. Travelling in Catania and Taormina felt much like a continuation of the Southern Italian provinces, which are very similar in terms of landscapes and culture. It was moving south to the historial city of Siracusa, however, that I really felt this departure from the rest of the country. The train journey from Taormina to Siracusa was much longer than anticipated as thrust upon me was my first lesson in travelling Sicilian-style. The only direct morning train to Siracusa left Taormina at 6.30am (a bit steep a wake up call when on vacation), with the next one not scheduled to depart for another 8 hours! Such irregular transport connections can prove really frustrating to the average time-pressed traveller, but they are very much a reality of life here. Public transport is not the best in Sicily so you either need a) a lot of days to play with + bucketfuls of patience (not one of my virtues) or b) a trusty hire car, if you really want to cover a lot of ground on this island.
Siracusa, an ancient Greek city on the South-Eastern coast, has a real other-wordly edge-of-Europe feel about it. Rich in history, it possesses an abundance of archeological sites and a UNESCO heritage old town in the form of an island called Ortigia (attached to the main centre by bridge). I really loved walking and cycling around Ortigia’s narrow streets, comtemplating its thousands of years of history and admiring its magnificent architectural splendor. Here is a little peek to give you a feel of this town.
Faded elegant buildings on the streets of Siracusa
Chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia – I didn’t make it in this church but was told there is a Caravaggio masterpiece inside.
Piazza del duomo, Ortigia – quite simply, one of the most majestic squares I’ve had the fortune to set my eyes on. So much beauty in one place!
One of the many streets leading down to the sea
Frescos inside il duomo, Ortigia
Il teatro greco – Il Parco Archeologico della Neapolis
Dolci Sapori Siciliani – don’t need much persuasion there! A confectioners near the old fish market in Ortigia
Bicycle hire is cheap in Siracusa and I had lots of fun cycling round the city one afternoon – would thoroughly recommend.
Finally, Siracusa – especially the archeological park – was full of charming stray cats. Here are a few of the little feline friends I made…