This bustling port city owes its existence to its natural harbor, Porto Grande. The oldest part of town lies on a small island separated from the rest of the city by a narrow canal. Its location, the ancient ruins and the picturesque landscape make Syracuse an important tourist destination. World history was written here when the city was drawn into the Punic Wars. Its most famous citizen, the Greek mathematician and physicist Archimedes, was killed when the city was captured by the Romans in 212 B.C. There are many sites worth noting in Syracuse, such as the Museo Archeologico containing famous exhibits like the sculpture of Augustus' profile by Centuripe, the Teatro Greco, one of the largest amphitheatres ever built by the ancient Greeks, and the Latomia del Paradiso, which was anything but a paradise: slaves and prisoners of war toiled in this quarry, which also served as a prison.
Egyptian papyrus plants along a brook made by a nymph
After Persephone had been robbed and cast into the underworld by Pluto, her friend, a nymph called Ciane, wept so much that her tears gathered to form a brook. To this day, the Fiume Ciane still flows into the sea southwest of Syracuse. Papyrus plants from Egypt were planted on along its banks 2,000 years ago and still grows rampant there today alongside the reeds and lilies. This short walk will take you through lush meadows to the mystical source of the brook. (round trip: 2 hrs, 7.5 km, elevation change: 10 m)
Clean beach, clear water
The sandy beach south of Siracuse is shallow with clear waters. It is one of the best and cleanest beaches of all of Sicily and therefore also suitable for children. Sunbeds and umbrellas are available for hire. Out of season there is not much going on.
Theaters, temples, necropolis
The Archeological Park of Syracuse is a World Heritage Site and quite a unique attraction. It is best visited in the early morning when the sun is not yet too high. Apart from the huge Greek theater, which once was the largest in the world, the park also boasts the Sanctuary of Apollo, the Roman amphitheater, the huge Altar of Hieron II and the necropolis Grotticelle.
Culturally and historically unique Old Town
Historic Syracuse is located on a peninsula called Ortygia and connected to the mainland only by a narrow access road. A maze of small streets leads to churches and palaces, to secluded courtyards and to the blue sea. After a period of emigration and decline the culturally and historically unique ensemble is experiencing a renaissance. Since having been declared a World Heritage Site, the baroque facades are being renewed and moisture damage removed. Along the promenade one can find trendy cafes and restaurants.