Syracuse is an emotional experience to live until the last "ciatu"...Discover with us how to visit this city like a real local!
There is a place rooted in myth surrounded by a pristine and shining nature, which unfolds between rocks and stones, among trees and nature reserves. Legend describes him as a nymph who to escape the advances of Zeus, turned into quail and threw herself into the sea becoming an island.
We are in a thousand-year-old place, where the limestone characterizes the different architectures that have followed each other over the centuries giving further light to the whole city, a place called Syracuse.
Let yourself be crossed by this city with its experiences to live like a local.
7. Syracuse like a local: sitting in Piazza del Duomo to breathe the history
At dawn the sky is a pink candy cotton and the door of the Natività di Maria Santissima cathedral’s is wide open.
We are in the Piazza del Duomo of Syracuse, a triumph of baroque architecture.
The square is breathtakingly beautiful and becomes magical in the silence and colors of the early hours of the day, when only a pressure washer wanders alone on the polychrome floor of his church.
The city has grown around it over the centuries and, as if we were traveling through time, we find ourselves surrounded by greek columns, imposing norman walls and baroque decorations.
In our ears echoes the words that Tomasi di Lampedusa makes Tancredi pronounce in his wonderful Leopard "Everything must change for everything to remain the same.” You will hardly find another place in the western world that has undergone so many transformations while remaining the same.
What at first glance it would seem a baroque cathedral hides a secret: inside there is the temple of Athena, an original doric temple built by the tyrant Gelone in the fifth century B.C. later transformed into a church in the byzantine era, then used as a mosque during the arab domination in Sicily and returned to christian worship by the normans, at the end of the eleventh century. The various styles have crossed mixing, creating a historical suggestion as well as religious, until 1693, when the facade and the sixteenth-century bell tower were destroyed by a dramatic earthquake.
As we can admire it today, we owe it to Andrea Palma, the architect from Trapani who in the mid-eighteenth century ended to give it the baroque look of which the whole world today is in love.
We invite you to close your eyes and breathe in all its charm: for 2500 years people have prayed in this same place...the name of the god is changed, but the center of spiritual life remained identical.
Staying in this enchanting almond’s shape square, watching as the sun illuminates it and makes it change color hour by hour, will be a true meditative experience. Absolutely not to be missed!
6. Going back to 400 years ago with the “Burial of St. Lucy”
Michelangelo Merisi, known as il Caravaggio, is a man on the run who, having escaped from the prison of Malta after being imprisoned for the assassination of Ranuccio Tommasoni, arrived in Syracuse in 1608.
Why Caravaggio decides to stop in Syracuse is still a mystery, but what is certain is that in this city will leave one of his masterpieces, the Burial of Saint Lucy, one of the most important works of his life.
Made in just two months, the burial is deeply influenced by the tragic events of Caravaggio’s life, the scene is made with very dark colors, in a game of lights and shadows, this painting succeeds in celebrating the triumph of light over the deep shadow.
Let’s go inside the norman church of Santa Lucia al Sepolcro extra moenia (outside the walls) and behind the high altar stands out the large canvas that more than 400 years after the death of its author still continues to surprise and excite.
It is a very moving scene and with an unusual point of view because the observer is at ground level, where the saint’s lifeless body is enveloped in a hazy light. We are thus seized by a deep sadness.
The light is at the center of the scene, on a young deacon who contemplates kidnapped Lucia, but it is also inside him, as if in some way it emanated from the saint wrapping him, so that he can welcome her.
We invite you to observe this painting to fully immerse yourself in the extraordinary atmosphere that the painter left us with his work. Immersing oneself in this painting also means going back 400 years and identifying with Caravaggio’s contemporaries for whom it must have been absolutely shocking to see a saint represented in such a realistic and daily environment.
Lucy is part of Syracuse exactly like the light that surrounds it and makes it so unique in the world, Saint Lucy is Syracuse.
5. Getting lost in the scents of the Ortigia's market like a true Syracusa local
Surrounded by so much folklore and sicilian style, the Ortigia's market is a riot of colors, smells and flavors.
The passing of the seasons here is told by the stalls that alternate juicy oranges to fragrant melons, persimmons and prickly pears to sweet apples.
The market’s experience is always different. You can go there to buy something or even just to fill your eyes with colors. Among spice stalls, fruit and vegetables, fish, cheese, local products...this market conquers the role of beating heart of the gastronomy of the island.
Everyone has a story and participates in this great theatre with a new show, every day. We arrive at a cult place of Ortigia’s market: the Borderi’s dairy. Here we can watch a real show where the fascinating art of stuffing sandwiches becomes involvement, poetry, creativity and explosion of the senses.
Stop here to have a look at the most unusual combinations proposed by the open kitchen of this amazing place: "People are hungry, yes, but hungry to recognize themselves", says the founder Andrea Borderi. Meeting a flavor and recognizing themselves in that same taste is the goal of these artisanal sandwiches created to shake the real foundations of our being.
An authentic insight into Sicilian life, an unmissable experience!
4. Enjoying the music of the street musicians
You could be walking towards the Aretusa spring, on the enchanting Alfeo promenade that is set on fire at sunset, and suddenly be overwhelmed by a wonderful melody: you are not dreaming, that air that is enveloping your Syracusan experience probably comes from the skilled art of street players.
There are no cameras or movie sets, but listen to it for a short moment or longer, the music, surrounded by the splendor of nature, will have the ability to transport you to the sets of all the best and moving movies of italian and american cinema.
Musicians are a gift, a gift of the city to its bystanders, a gift that the most sensitive will stop to receive and the most distracted will benefit unaware, without even understanding the reason. Thanks to the magic of musicality that blends with the bright colors of the sky, sky that these magical instruments turn off with a special lullaby on the delicate contour of the Maddalena peninsula.
Surely you will hear them before you even see them, they will wrap you in a sweet, polite way: they will create for you the soundtrack of Ortigia.
High emotional content experience.
3. Reaching the Santa Panagia’s tuna trap through an unusual bike path
It is only 7 km long, but even in its short stretch, the Rossana Maiorca cycle path manages to impress and qualify as one of the most fascinating bike paths in Italy: part of this charm is due to the railway tracks that stood, until recently, under this route that now cyclists and joggers love to walk thanks to its unforgettable path.
Crystal clear bays, remains of dionysian walls, stone quarries dating back to the greek period and other places of historical interest are just some of the things that this route gives you, until you explode in the beauty of the final destination: the charming and beautiful tonnara di Santa Panagia.
La Tonnara is a place now abandoned, but if we stop we hear the "cialoma", the magic formula of Sicilian tuna's people, the ancient and traditional song of the slaughter. This silent place has traveled through the centuries passing from hand to hand, from property to property, from destruction to reconstruction and walking there today, inside, although disused for several decades, will surely make you taste its history, started in 1100 and not yet finished.
A jewel of spontaneous architecture that we hope will be returned to the city soon, in its redevelopment.
Suggestion and charm assured!
2. Taste the triumph of the flavors of the typical Syracusan dishes
A few steps from the ancient market of Ortigia, surrounded by a magical and evocative atmosphere, the restaurants that you will find just after "the bridges" will open the doors of their house transporting you to a timeless place.
The dishes proposed are those of the typical Sicilian cuisine, a typical cuisine, as did the grandmother...but we of Visit Italy we tasted the dishes of Syracuse doc that we want to share with you!
Love, passion, kindness and authenticity are the condiments that will make you fall in love with the caserecce with Syracusan pesto and the caponata of fish, fried anchovies and mint tuna, to overwhelm you in an effluvio of pleasure with the king of Syracuse desserts: the broken down cannoli.
The caserecce alla siciliana we loved them especially because they are a dish that mixes the most delicate flavors of the island...tomato, ricotta and basil are put raw to leave their flavor unchanged.
A jump into the past of Sicilian tradition. An experience not only for the palate, but an authentic sensory journey in taste whose only goal is...make you feel good!
1. Admiring the late neoclassical forms of the Chamber of Commerce Palace
Just after the bridges that connect Syracuse to the "scogghiu" of Ortigia, on the road that leads from Piazza Pancali to the Marina, the Chamber of Commerce's Palace stands as a huge sand castle become reality.
The monumental Palace that houses the Chamber of Commerce seems, in fact, just out of a fairy tale: built in the early 1900s in late neoclassical forms tending to liberty, this beautiful building awaits you silent, unaware of its own beauty, at the end of Via Savoia, overlooking the port of the Marina.
The main facade includes three arched portals closed by elegant wrought iron railings, with two arched windows on the sides. Above we find five elegant arched windows, while on the sides two separate bodies recess the central part of the facade.
But what we love most is the beautiful entablature, decorated with battlements and bas-reliefs, which crowns the top of the building. A gem not to be missed.