Siracusa

Highlights of Siracusa

You will meet your guide and your driver at the port and will depart to explore Siracusa.

Of all the Greek cities of antiquity that flourished on the coast of Sicily, Syracuse (Siracusa) was the most important, a formidable competitor of Athens. In its heyday, it dared take on Carthage and even Rome.

Syracuse’s Archaeological Park contains the town’s most important attractions.

On Temenite Hill, the Teatro Greco (Greek Theater), Viale Teocrito, was one of the great theaters of the classical period.

Outside the entrance to the Greek Theater is the most famous of the ancient quarries, Latomia del Paradiso (Paradise Quarry), one of four or five from which stones were hauled to erect the great monuments of Syracuse in its glory days.

Upon seeing the cave in the wall, Caravaggio is reputed to have dubbed it the “Ear of Dionysius” because of its unusual shape.

Nearby is the Grotta dei Cordari, where rope-makers plied their craft.

The Anfiteatro Romano (Roman Amphitheater) was created at the time of Augustus. It ranks among the top five amphitheaters left by the Romans in Italy. Like the Greek Theater, part of it was carved from rock.

After the visit of the archeological site you will proceed to the island of Ortigia.

The island of Ortigia is the historical heart of Siracusa.

The tight-knit lanes are pleasant for strolling, and much of the island’s charm lies in wandering down narrow medieval lanes, past beautiful Baroque palaces and churches.

You will see the bizarre Palazzo Impellizzeri, lined with faces. Ortigia has many gems to discover – one of the best is the small Chiesa of San Martino, a simple and ancient church with a lovely interior, decorated with a mosaic in the apse.

Ortigia is joined to the mainland by three bridges. The central bridge, Ponte Umbertino, continues the line of the wide Corso Umberto, one of mainland Siracusa’s major thoroughfares. Straight ahead as you reach the island, you’ll come to the majestic ruins of the Greek Temple of Apollo. Veering right up Corso Matteotti you’ll pass a range of clothes and shoe shops, before arriving in Piazza Archimede, at the centre of Ortigia.

The piazza is nevertheless an attractive focal point, and a good place to start your explorations of the island. The fountain depicts the myth of the nymph Aretusa.

 

Sicilian Baroque: Noto and Modica

You will meet your driver and your guide and depart to the marvellous city of Noto, whose centre has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002 for its astonishing baroque buildings. As you walk through the streets of this elegant town, you’ll find yourself staring at amazing examples of the most refined Sicilian typical architecture of the Seventeenth-Eighteenth Century: no wonder the city is considered the Capital of Sicilian Baroque.

The town’s striking architectural coherence is due to the terrible earthquake that struck Sicily in 1693, completely destroying the ancient Noto, that had been built by the Sicels and then occupied by the Romans, the Arabs and the Normans, and was set on Mount Alveria. After the earthquake, the city was rebuilt about 10 kilometers far from its original site, on the left bank of the Asinaro river, and excellent local architects decided to get this chance and make the new Noto an admirable example of perfect urban planning and architectural and artistic coherence.

The result is just amazing. Splendid buildings made with tuff stone reflect the sunlight assuming an enchanting honey tonality, which makes the exploration of the historic centre even more magical and unique both during the day, at sunset or at night – when amber lights reflected by the buildings create a charming and delightful atmosphere that you’ll be able to experience only in this wonderful ancient town.

You will then depart to Modica.

Modica is depicted in several different ways: it is the “one-hundred churches town”, including the ruins of churches in the city surroundings. It is the town of the famous bridge, among the tallest in Europe (300m), overlooking the whole City and joining the new and the old Modicas. It is the town of the Baroque and of the County, both testifying to its glorious past. Finally, it is a city of disasters: natural, as were earthquakes in 1613 and 1693 and floods in 1833 and 1902; and human, as appear certain ugly modern buildings in its beautiful historical centre – a feature that, alas, recurs in most of the historical Sicilian cities. Nonetheless, Modica is one of the loveliest cities in all Sicily. What makes Modica so unique and charming are undoubtely its baroque look that dominates the old town centre, but also the maze of narrow streets bordered by old shops, houses and buildings, that characterize both Modica Alta and Modica Bassa. The tour of the churches and palazzi of the city will impress you. The stately Cathedral of San Giorgio is one of the most important and impressing religious monuments in all Sicily.

Return to the port afterwards.

 

Catania and Mount Etna

Ortygia Island

Baroque Noto

Ragusa Ibla and Noto

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