"Sunny Syracuse" Top 5 Page for this destination Siracusa by TheWanderingCamel

Siracusa Travel Guide: 273 reviews and 942 photos

"The greatest Greek city ...."

....and the most beautiful of them all".

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.


  • Last visit to Siracusa: Jun 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (22)

Comments (11)

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Mar 8, 2010 at 1:52 PM

    Leyle, I have visited many parts of Italy, but unfortunately never made it to Sicilia Fanatstic page about Siracusa here. Well done.

  • kokoryko's Profile Photo
    Mar 8, 2010 at 1:35 PM

    I remember it rained cats and dogs when I visited Syracuse. . . and I spent a long time under the shelter of the Tyrant’s ear! I did not see a lot and your page really makes me wanting to visit Syracuse again; you describe it so wonderfully, Leyle.

  • MikeBird's Profile Photo
    Sep 8, 2009 at 1:24 PM

    WE have now booked a week in an apartment in Ortygia between Christmas and New Year. Your tips about this town are 'mouth watering' and are very encouraging. Thank you so much. Mike

  • antonela's Profile Photo
    Aug 8, 2009 at 7:47 AM

    You are a wealth of information. Loved your South African and Italian pages. Happy Travels.

  • starship's Profile Photo
    Apr 9, 2009 at 6:23 AM

    Lovely page! One set of my grandparents are from Sicily. I have been there twice but only a day each time. Your page certainly makes me wish for more time to discover Siracusa.

  • Jenniflower's Profile Photo
    Apr 8, 2009 at 3:58 PM

    Your information is so indepth and interesting, what a fantastic page!!! Thanks Leyle!

  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo
    Apr 7, 2009 at 5:21 PM

    I am so impressed not only by your knowledge of the history here in Siracuse-but also by your descriptive tip writing and interesting photography. Your accommodation sounds perfect. Thanks Leyle

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Sep 3, 2008 at 5:54 PM

    You describe by favorite fountain so well! Ortygia, I agree, is magnificent. Allan & I loved the Cathedral. Your emphasis on mythology is awesome. Apartment sounds perfect. Oh, the cave was great too. Perfection, Leyle.

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo
    Sep 3, 2008 at 7:10 AM

    An excellent sequel to your Palermo page, Leyle. History, legend, food, good writing and photography are a winning combination. Must admit I smiled when I found you'd also encountered "the great scaffolding of Europe"!

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Sep 2, 2008 at 11:15 PM

    Magic as well, Leyle :-)) I really like the way you combine the ancient legends with the past history! And I love the Papyrus museum already, so Siracusa is definitely on my list :-)

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