Syracuse was founded by Greek settlers that came from Corinth and it had been one of the most important polis (city-state) of the classical era for over a millennium. It’s surrounded almost entirely by the sea and half of the city stretches on the land while the other half extends on the isle of Ortigia.
Unesco heritage, it’s one of the most visited touristic destinations of Europe. Many guided tours let you visit the archaeological park, the ear of Dionysus and the Source of Aretusa. The tours incude the tasting the local gastronomic delicacies.
Ortigia Island (or Ortygia) is the old part of Syracuse, its beating heart. The Cathedral, the temples, the Baroque palaces and the Maniace Castle are some of its treasures. It’s been affected by the many civilizations that have colonized Sicily and it’s become the set of many movies. On the isle there are many different natural water sources like the famous Source of Aretusa.
The Sicilian papyrus
The source of Aretusa is a fresh water source on the isle of Ortigia. It’s famous because of the papyrus, a plant usually found around the river Nile, used by the Egyptians as paper. It’s found only here in all Europe, but no one knows about its origin; some think that it’s authochtonous while others think it’s been imported. The only certain thing is that, since 1700, it’s been used in Syracuse to make paper.
Resisting to the local delicacies is impossible. Syracusan fried pasta, Tuna fish bottarga spaghetti, Syracusan spaghetti, Syracusan fish soup, “ghiotta” tuna fish, l’impanata (the breaded), the pizzolo, and desserts like the cotognata, cassata and paste di mandorla.
The theater rises in the highest spot of the archaeological park of the Neapolis. It was built in the V th century according to Greek standards. It’s made of a cavea with a diameter of 138.60 meters and when it was built it had 67 rows of steps divided in 9 sectors. There is no more scenic space and top rows of steps but the terrace that houesed a porch is still visible, like some recesses and a space from which water gushed out. It’s been abbandoned for a long time and it was stripped of many elements during the Aragonese domination.
The Istituto Nazionale del’Arte Antica (National Institute of Ancient Art) organizes every summer the Greek Theater of Syracuse Festival. The most famous Italian prose show, now at its 55° edition, puts on stage comedies and tragedies of the Greek tradition.
Ear of Dionysus
It’s a stone quarry that got its name from Caravaggio. It was built by Dionysus’s orde to make a prison out of it. The legend says that the tyrant was able to listen to the prisoners talking while he was standing on a high spot. It’s 20m high and 65m deep and it’s famous for its characteristic entrance shaped like an auricle. Its “S” shape it’s due to the way the builder made it to follow an old aqueduct. Its sinuous shape is stilla mistery to this day as for its real use.