"Sunny Syracuse" Top 5 Page for this destination Siracusa by TheWanderingCamel
Siracusa Travel Guide: 250 reviews and 856 photos
That was how the great Roman orator, Cicero, described Syracuse after he visited the city during his time as quaestor on Sicily in 70BC. The city was already 700 years old by the time Cicero arrived, the first Greek settlers having arrived from Corinth sometime in the 8th century BC. They first made the island of Ortygia their home but it wasn't long before the city spread to the mainland and, although long past its finest period, when Cicero arrived he found a city ''so big, one might think it was made up of four giant towns put together…''.
The next few centuries saw Syracuse's fortunes rise and fall as Vandals followed Romans only for Byzantium to recapture the city for the Second Rome. Following the Arab invasion of the 9th century AD, the city whose name had been a byword for beauty and culture became a provincial backwater- neglected and almost forgotten. Earthquakes and plagues brought more misery upon the city but somehow it struggled on until, in 1693, what should have sounded a final death knoll, a calamitous earthquake, saw a remarkable revival as ambitious investors financed a major rebuilding of the damaged city in the then highly fashionable Baroque style.
Syracuse was never to regain the stature of its Greek beginnings however. The early decades of the 20th century brought some prosperity as the port developed in response to Italy's relatively short-lived ventures into African colonialism but today it's tourists who are the source of the city's increasing wealth and the city charms them, just as it did Cicero all those years ago.
Ortygia, lying golden under clear blue skies, is a delight. Its narrow streets, pretty squares, Greek-temple-turned-cathedral, palazzos and sea-view promenades could keep you exploring all day.
Over on the mainland, the Archaeological Park is where you'll find both Greek and Roman ruins - theatre, amphitheatre, a monstrous altar, and the romantically named Gardens of Paradise.
Christian catacombs, coral-rimmed sea caves, a fine museum or two, a lively market, more ruins all add to the mix of things to see and do here but be sure to leave time to linger over a coffee, a glass of wine, a frosty granita at an al fresco cafe table. Stay a night or a week, join the evening passeggiata in the Piazza del Duomo or around the Fountain of Arethusa, spend some time (and some euros) in the little artisan's shops that line the streets of Ortygia, do as the Italians do and sit for an hour or more over lunch, then take your time over an equally delicious dinner before making your way back to your hotel or apartment. Sleep well and wake up to another sunny day in this beguiling corner of Sicily.
The time to leave Syracuse came all too soon. Other places called, Agrigento and the famed Valley of the Temples was our... more travel advice
We ate really well in Syracuse - the freshest of fish in a palm-tree-planted courtyard; the simplest and most delicious... more travel advice
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