Located on the east coast of Sicily, the legendary city of Syracuse is a place where centuries of history contemplate the visitor. Its historical heart beats on the island of Ortigia, the original site of the city’s foundation. A marvel of Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance architecture, Ortigia offers a trip to a city steeped in history with a special atmosphere. An ideal place to get away from the world for a romantic weekend.
A secular city
Founded in 734 B.C. by the Greeks of Corinth, Syracuse was an important city that dominated Sicily during antiquity. It was in this city that Archimedes, the great scientist of antiquity, was born. His island Ortigia is a pile of historical fragments and an open book on the glorious history of the city. Every era, every conquest has left its mark here. The old town is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“ This city at the end of the world has an incomparable charm. It is a mixture of Venice, Africa and the Orient, relatively untouched by mass tourism. Everywhere the sea, the infinite, the fine and elaborate baroque. ”Dominique Fernandez, writer
History present everywhere
Connected to the mainland by the small bridges Umbertino and Santa Lucia, the island is like a ship moored in the city of Syracuse ready to set sail. Proudly enthroned in front of the age-old city, the statue of Archimedes recalls its prestigious past. Welcomed by the remains of a Greek temple dedicated to Apollo, the entrance to Ortigia sets the mood. Here everything is history: palaces, churches, ancient remains, signs of the golden age of the city during centuries of influence on the Mediterranean. The treasures of Ortigia are hidden in all corners of the island : the magnificent baroque cathedral and its remains of ancient columns where the temple of Athena stood, the superb fountain of Diana, the fountain of Arethusa, a place of legend, the Maniace castle located at the tip of the island or the many palaces that spinkle the island. On its western and eastern flanks, Ortigia also has beautiful seaside walks inviting you to stroll in love. For lovers of “old stones”, a detour into the modern city, although not very attractive, will allow you to admire the superb archaeological park of Neapolis with its Greek theatre and its Roman amphitheatre.
Ortigia offers an unexpected experience of a change of scene and wandering through a labyrinthine maze of romantic alleyways. From small popular alleys to large squares lined with elegant palaces, Ortigia displays its architectural contrasts. From the outset, a light from North Africa dazzles the visitor’s eyes. Warm and white, this light gives Ortigia a special atmosphere. Under a burning sun, this light is reflected on the stone of the façades and contrasts with the magnificent azure blue of the sky. And at the bend in an alleyway, the white fades in front of the blue of the Ionian Sea. During a romantic stroll, the traveller is surprised by the contrast between the disused palaces, testimony of the earthquake that struck the region in 1990, and the majestic facades of the baroque palaces. In the evening time seems to have stopped, the palaces light up and create a magical atmosphere. A precious moment for lovers on a stroll, who will find a charming terrace to eat at the chance of a piazzetta. Ortigia gives off an impression of elsewhere that mixes with a strange feeling of being at the end of the world. Despite its small size, Ortigia distil a particularly bewitching and magical sensation.
Like Taormina, Syracuse is an unmissable stop to discover the beauties of ancient Sicily. Its island Ortigia offers an exceptional place to experience a romantic weekend off the beaten track of mass tourism. Although Ortigia does not have romantic places like other destinations, the charm and romanticism of its labyrinthine maze of narrow streets is more than enough in itself and also offers beautiful cultural and historical discoveries.
Lovers, to your luggage !
#When to go
As for the other destinations in this blog, it is advisable to go to Ortigia in the off-season. Even if Syracuse is relatively untouched by mass tourism, spring, autumn or even winter will allow you to walk quietly and avoid the tourists and the heat in summer. Weather in Syracuse
Catania airport 70km away. Lowest prices on Easyjet from Paris. Train connection to Syracuse from Catania Central Station. Flight search :www.skyscanner.com
Whatever the destination, travellers are advised to book accommodation in the centre to fully enjoy the charms of the destination. The modern city of Syracuse is of little interest, it is essential to book accommodation on the island. Ortigia offers a wide range of accommodation to its visitors : superb hotels, charming guest rooms and apartments in all price ranges.
Charming hotel in a 19th century building with a superb terrace facing the sea. An ideal place for a romantic stay.
Also many rentals on Airbnb and other seasonal rental platforms. Favourite for the Ortigia Lovely Suite Seafront apartment with a superb terrace overlooking the sea.
For a search for a bed and breakfast :
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