2 Days In Syracuse & Ortigia, Sicily

by Oct 17, 2018Instagram, Italy, Stopovers & Layovers18 comments

A fellow travel blogger/vlogger from Just Go Places left a comment on one of  my videos about Syracuse on my YouTube channel. They said, “For a country that claims the Godfather stereotypes them, they definitely know how to capitalize on it.” 

Ortigia, Sicily

Well what they were referring to was the footage at the beginning of the video of a girl playing the Godfather theme on an accordion. 

Aside from the fact that I finished a 3 Days In Malta Itinerary and decided to kill two birds with one stone and visit Sicily – due to its close proximity.

I’m not gonna lie, that decision was exclusively fuelled by the Godfather. Sorry!

This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.

I can never seem to get enough of Italy!

Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in

Italy does that. Not sure if it the food, the history, the gorgeous cathedrals or the beautifully animated language. When I take a look at all the places I’ve travelled to the majority have been in Italy – and with Malta being so close to the Italian island of Sicily I couldn’t resist.

While researching ship options from Malta to Italy, I learned that not only is Syracuse (Siracusa) a port city with regulars ship travel to and from Valletta, Malta, it’s a short distance from Catania which has the airport I need to get back to Rome.  So, I started to research things to do in Siracusa.  

Getting to Syracuse

Plane
Sicily has four international commercial airports, Palermo, Catania, Comiso and Trapani, and two domestic airports serving mainland Italy, Lampedusa and Pantelleria.

To reach Syracuse, you need to book a flight to one of Sicily’s two main international airports, Palermo or Catania. Catania is the nearest airport to Syracuse at about 60 km south of the city. Palermo on the other hand is 35 km northwest of Sicily’s capital Palermo, and 278 km from Syracuse.

Train
From Catania airport, the AMT Alibus runs into the city centre and train station every 20 minutes (with a 20-minute journey time) between 5am and midnight; tickets cost  €4.

Boat
If you’re coming from Malta like I did, there are two ferry routes. 
Grimaldi Lines operates a total of 20 sailings per week from Valletta to Pozzallo while Valletta to Catania runs 1 time weekly.

Virtu Ferries operates 2 routes, Valletta to Catania which runs 7 times per week & Valletta to Pozzallo about 12 times weekly. I went to Pazzallo and took a taxi up to Syracuse.

Unfortunately,  I don’t remember how much it cost – but I do remember splitting the bill with three other passengers.

Bus
Buses to Syracuse and Taormina are run by Interbus (interbus.it). There are two bus companies that are active in Syracuse: the small shuttle busses “Siracusa d’amare”, are very useful for tourists and the local bus company AST which covers the whole town and the outer districts of Belvedere, Cassibile and Fontane Bianche.

Places To Stay In Syracuse, Italy

The room I found in Syracuse is no longer available for booking. It was a real simple room with everything I needed, including a much-needed washing machine. I remember wandering around Syracuse in the evening the night I arrived looking for a store that sold detergent – which I eventually found in a convenience store.

Alla Giudecca was my second choice. Trust me it took a lot of debating between the two properties but at the end, the deciding factor was the price. If you go to Syracuse and choose this property please let me know what I missed out on…

Booking.com

First time using Airbnb?

If you sign up for Airbnb with my link, you’ll get $45 CAD off your first trip. When you book a trip of $95 CAD or more, I’ll get $25 CAD in travel credit, too.

Day 1

Caffe Letterario Siracusa

Caffe Letterario Siracusa is a reputable Italian café located right behind the Temple of Apollo.
I have to admit that I immediatly fell in love with the beautiful, brunette barrista who brought me my expresso every morning. I loved watching as she greeted everyone, shared a laugh and got them going with their morning coffee.

I spent far too much time here

Ortigia, Sicily

Forte Vigliena

Forte Vigliena is an easy to access dock right on the Mediterranean Sea. With an open staircase and wooden dock, it is an the perfect location for sunbathing or simply relaxing under the sun. 

For one, I’m dark enough, so I’ll pass on the sunbathing. however, relaxing under the sun is tempting but – I opted to get moving…

Ortigia, Sicily
Ortigia, Sicily

Castello Maniace

Castello Maniace was built between 1232 and 1240 during the rule of Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor. The name Castello Maniace comes from an earlier fort on the same site that was built by George Maniakes, the Byzantine Greek general who seized Sicily from the Arabs in 1038.

Ortigia, Sicily
Ortigia, Sicily
Ortigia, Sicily
Ortigia, Sicily
Ortigia, Sicily

Fountain of Arethusa

When I first saw this, admittedly I wasn’t really sure what was going on but the Fountain of Arethusa is a freshwater spring that’s surrounded by wild papyrus. According to Greek myth, the fountain is believed to be the place where an Arcadian nymph named Arethusa resurfaced after fleeing from an obsessed lover Alpheus- God of Rivers.

Piazza Duomo

The Piazza Duomo is a true testament to the baroque architecture of Syracuse. The rectangular plaza was constructed on the site of an ancient acropolis that dates back to the Greek occupation of Syracuse.

Ortigia, Sicily
Ortigia, Sicily
Ortigia, Sicily

Cattedrale Metropolitana della Natività di Maria Santissima

Also known as the Cathedral of Syracuse (Siracusa), the Cattedrale Metropolitana della Natività di Maria Santissima – the Italians have this way of giving their catherals these long, beautiful names, is a Baroque-style cathedral. It was commisioned by Roman Catholic Bishop Zosimo in the 7th century and is built over the Temple of Athena. It is now the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Siracusa.

Ortigia, Sicily

Fontana di Diana

The Fontana di Diana is a fountain, created by Giulio Moschetti in 1907 and located in Piazza Archimede. Giulio Moschetti’s portrays various statues in the fountain but the main statue is the goddess Diana – goddess of the hunt.

Ortigia, Sicily

Sicilia in Tavola

Sicilia in Tavola is one of the longest-standing restaurants in Ortigia, Syracuse. It has earned a reputation for serving amazing homemade pasta and seafood. Dishes like fettuccine allo scoglio (pasta ribbons with mixed seafood) and the equally fine prawn ravioli, paired with sweet cherry tomatoes and chopped mint, are favorites. I suggest reservations but I happened to pass by just as another couple was leaving and didn’t have to wait. 

Porta Urbica

The Porta Urbica was originally a gateway to the fortress of Ortigia, built on the orders of Dionysius the Great. Visitors can see the ruins of an extensive wall that once protected Syracuse.

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Day 2

Ortigia, Sicily
Ortigia, Sicily
Ortigia, Sicily
Ortigia, Sicily

Temple of Apollo

The Temple of Apollo was originally a Greek temple that dates back to as early as the 6th century BC and is the oldest known Doric temple in Western Europe. The temple was transformed into a Byzantine church, later seized by the Muslims which converted it into a mosque, then it was seized by the Normans, who converted the temple back into a church.

Ortigia, Sicily
Ortigia, Sicily
Ortigia, Sicily
Ortigia, Sicily
Ortigia, Sicily
Ortigia, Sicily

Old Market of Ortigia

I love markets. Its hands down the best way to get to know a place and its culture – this market is no exception with its sites and sounds that are authentically Italian. Italian markets, in general, are a must in my opinion. The historic Ortigia market is one of Syracuse’s most popular attractions. Every morning (Monday- Saturday), vendors sell all sorts of artisanal sandwiches, cured meats, fresh Mediterranean salads, seafood and other delicious bites. 

Chiesa Monumento Pantheon Dei Caduti Siracusa

Often regarded by the people of Syracuse as “the Pantheon”, the Chiesa Monumento Pantheon Dei Caduti Siracusa is a church dedicated to remembering the fallen soldiers of Syracuse during World War I. 

Ortigia, Sicily
Ortigia, Sicily

Archaeological Park Neapolis

This famous archaeological park has a unique feature: it contains both a Roman and Greek theatre. It is definitely one of the greatest archaeological excavations in Italy, dating back to as early as the 3rd century AD.

The main attraction of Archaeological Park Neapolis is its well-preserved Greek theatre, which is believed to date back to as early as the 5th century BC.

Ortigia, Sicily

Syracuse Roman Amphitheater

The Syracuse Roman Amphitheater is one of the best-preserved structures in the city of Syracuse. This 1st-century Roman amphitheatre was once a flourishing arena that not only hosted awesome gladiator spectacles and was also likely used as a venue for Greek plays. Today, the theatre hosts an annual Greek Theatre festival, which is held from mid-May until the end of June.

Ortigia, Sicily

Grotta dei Cordari

Located inside the Latomia of Paradise is Grotta dei Cordari – also known as the Cave of Cordari. The Grotta dei Cordari is an artificial mine that stands with the assistance of multiple pillars that have been excavated in the rock itself. It was once used to make ropes due to the humidity of the cave but it’s also famous for the “light games” that were played inside by using natural lighting and shadows.

Latomie del Paradiso

Often called the “Latomies of Syracuse”, these limestone quarries were once, both a mining site and a “natural” prison for prisoners. Although the latomies have been exposed to millenniums of excavation and erosion, they are safe to traverse and are a popular attraction amongst tourists and locals.

Ortigia, Sicily

Ear of Dionysius

This teardrop-shaped cave is famous for its acoustic properties. The layout of the cave amplifies the quietest of sounds, which allows listeners to hear them from an opening at the top which is 72 feet above ground level.

The Ear of Dionysius’ gets its name from the Italian painter Caravaggio, who named the cave after a legend about Dionysius I. According to folklore, Emperor Dionysius I used the cave as a jail and would spy on prisoners from the opening at the top of the cave.

Ortigia, Sicily

Teatro Greco

Built in the early third century B.C, the Teatro Greco, also known as the ancient theatre of Taormina, is one of the most famous ancient Greek theatres – well-known for its horseshoe-shaped structure and backdrop of Mount Etna. This Greco-Roman theatre is split into three parts: the main stage, the orchestra and the auditorium.

Ortigia, Sicily
Ortigia, Sicily

Teatro Greco Pizzeria & Grill & Coffee

I stumbled across these restaurants while exploring the complex with the Ear of Dionysius and the Teatro Greco. It’s a great and convenient choice if you’re looking to grab some delicious and authentic Sicilian bites while navigating the awe-inspiring attractions of ancient Italy.

I, however, went for a good old-fashioned burger – Don’t get upset I ate plenty of classic Italian dishes so I feel justified.

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Navigation:

Google Maps

Now that I put together this what to do in Ortigia, Sicily in 2 days, you’ll need a map. In order to maximize your time, you gotta figure out your bearings; Where are the things you want to see, do, eat and drink and what is the fastest way to move in between it all.

Syracuse & Ortigia, Sicily

Honestly, its very difdicult to find anything wrong with any city, town or village in Italy. There is always some archaeological site getting discoverd or a stunning cathedral/basillica with a beautiful story.

Siracusa was a city I was just planning on passing through in order to get to Catania for my flight back to Rome.

Once again Italy grabs you by the kahunas and doen’t ket go!

You know I couldn’t leave with out one more Godfather reference – right? 

 

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