Okay, let’s be real here. I wasn’t supposed to stay in Sicily this long, not that I’m complaining. I should have been in Turkey if all was going according to plan. While I really want to go see Turkey and explore its unique culture, I’m actually quite happy spending so much time exploring Sicily and practicing my nearly fluent Italian. It’s been one month since I’ve arrived here and I’ve already seen Filicudi, Taormina, Palermo, and now Siracusa. This will be my last day trip in Sicily, for the remainder of my time here I’ll be staying in Messina. Since I’ve spent so much time in Messina, I’m dedicating my next and last post all about it. For now, let me show you some of the highlights of my trip to Siracusa, or in English, Syracuse.
Ancient Greek Theater
After about a two-hour drive from Messina, and one stop for coffee, we finally arrived in Siracusa. We decided to go see the ancient theatre first since it is the highlight of the city. We parked in the lot just a few meters away from the park entrance and paid about 5 Euro for a few hours. Since it was Sunday, we were allowed to enter the Archaeological Park Neapolis for free. I was stupid and did not wear comfortable clothes, I thought we were just going to get out of the car and walk two minutes to the theater. I was wrong. We had to first stop by the ticket office and get our free tickets and then it was climbing stairs from there.
It’s pretty impressive that this structure has still maintained its original shape and well-preserved. Apparently they have demonstrations of Ancient Greek and Roman people inside the theatre playing back what you may have seen back in those times. We, however, did not stay that long since we wanted to just make the trip for a day.
After walking around and exploring for a while, we went to the next important spot called The Ear of Dionysius. I’d overheard some people in a tour and from what the guide was saying, this cave was carved into the mountain and meant to hold prisoners. The way it was constructed makes every sound echo throughout the cave. When the prisoners would speak, the sound would travel up and Dionysius would eavesdrop on their plans and secrets. This the legend anyway.
We walked inside and made funny noises and listened to them bounce off the walls of the cave along with everyone elses. It sounded like a symphony of voices.
Just next to this cave you’ll find the Grotta dei Cordari, which is where they would manufacture rope.
We then circled back up towards the ticket office and went to see the Ancient Roman Amphitheater. Much like the other Roman amphitheatres, this one was used to watch gladiators fight, executions, and the slaying of animals. It doesn’t look as though it has been completely excavated, but still interesting.
As you exit the park, to the left you see more stone structures. This, according to a tour guide, is where the Greeks would make their animal sacrifices for religious purposes.
After our little hike we hopped back in the car to see the city of Ortygia. You could keep your car parked by the park and walk, but we are too lazy. We found a restaurant next to the sea and I had the best cheese plate of my life. I also did the “typical American” and ordered a burger the size of my head.
From here we walked along the defensive walls built around the city. To my surprise there were people swimming in the water with the strong waves and large rocks.
We kept walking with the sea to our left and eventually found ourselves in the historic center.
Here people order food and take it back to their little boats, or just simply have a seat at the many restaurants lined up across the street. If you keep walking you’ll see the Fountain of Arethusa filled with bamboo and abundant with koi fish.
Walk a little more and you get a great view of the panoramic.
The next stop was the impressive Cathedral of Syracuse. It looked freshly painted because I’ve never seen such a beautiful square as this in Sicily.
This Cathedral, as explained by Giulio, is dedicated to Santa Lucia the blind. She was a martyr whose eyes were gauged out of her head before her execution.
This Cathedral was built on top of an old Greek temple. You can still see the original stone used in the Greek Temple inside the walls. There are also bones of saints displayed in the cathedral.
On the way out of Siracusa we passed by the Fontaine d’Artémis and some more ruins in the middle of the city.
By the time we had finished it was just 3PM. Giulio’s suggested that we go to another city that has more beautiful history-rich structures called Noto not too far away. I was too tired and we decided to head home.