Driving away from Trapani under a cloudless late spring sky, my rental Cinquecento and I began our four hour drive across the island of Sicily to the city of Syracuse on the south eastern shore. The autostrada is a feat of engineering as it curves through the mountains of central Sicily, passing evocative signposts such as Corleone and Prizzi.
Ortigia, a tiny self-contained island, is joined to Syracuse by three bridges over a narrow channel. It contains the centro storico of the city itself and is a warren of narrow streets and mellow baroque architecture.
Arriving at my hotel on the south side of the island, via the bustling narrow alleyways of Ortigia, I couldn’t wait to explore.
Ortigia, though tiny – approximately 1km by 500 metres – is packed with interesting things to see. It is a popular tourist destination, brim-full of a great variety of shops, bars and restaurants.
Close to my hotel was the 13th century Castello Maniace jutting out into the sea overlooking the sheltered bay. Apparently, there has been some sort of defensive fort in this vital strategic position since Syracuse was first inhabited about 3000 years ago.
Other interesting sights include the 7th century BC Temple of Apollo and busy Piazza Archimede with its extravagant fountain, named after Archimedes the famous mathematician who was born there in 287 BC.
Gorgeous Piazza Duomo is packed full of bars and cafes, where you can sip on a limoncello or visit the striking Duomo and the church of Santa Lucia.
Overall, Ortigia is the perfect place to stroll around, taking in the mellow old Baroque architecture and visiting the most fantastic fish-market I have ever seen, where the fishmongers sing out a litany of their produce for the entertainment of all.
FAQs on Ortigia click Ortigia Syracuse FAQs.