The Greek Theatre Festival in Siracusa
Siracusa had one of the most impressive theatres in the Greek world built around the period 500 BC due to its high status as a commercial and cultural centre in the Mediterranean.
The cavea was one of the largest ever built seating 15,000 spectators in 59 rows.
2500 years later, the annual Greek Theatre Festival is one of Sicily's most prestigious cultural events attracting visitors from all around the world.
The curtain rises as the sun sets and the magical performance begins.
This year, 2014, is the 50th Cycle of Classical Plays and coincides with the centenary of the founding of l'INDA, the Institute. The following plays are featured in rotation from 9 May - 22 June:
L'Orestea di Eschilo divided into two spectacles (Agamennone first, Coefore and Eumenidi second) and Le Vespe di Aristofane.
This is a link to an article in the local paper about the stellar cast for the performances :
- Arts and Culture
- Theater Travel
Cantine Gulino! Visit a Vineyard!
We buy wine by the litre from this local cantina which has been making wine since 1793.
Nero d'Avola (red) 13.5%: €1.80 / litre
Syrah (red) 13.5%: €2.00 / litre
Albanello (white) 13%: €1.80 / litre
There is a small extra charge of 20 centesemi for a 2 litre new plastic bottle with seal or €1 buys a new 5 litre bidone with seal. Maybe you prefer the wine to be transported in a wine bag. These are for sale at €2 for a 5 litre holding bag and €3 for a 10 litre holding bag. You can always bring your own measured contained should you not wish to buy one.
There are bottles of wine for sale too which we buy for presents and special occasions. There is a choice of red, white, sparkling and very good 'sweet' wines which can be consumed after food or served well chilled as an aperitivo.
The owner happily gives tours of the vineyards and talks about the wine production after making a booking directly with him. Wine tasting with accompanying nibbles is available
Wine can be and is shipped worldwide.
Quality extra virgin olive oil from the Monte Iblei available to buy in an oil box (like a wine box). This makes it easily transportable and packable.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday from 08:00 - 13:00
From 22 February 2014 from 18:00 - 22:30 and then every Saturday until further notice -
Aperitivi of slices of salumi, formaggi and stuzzichini as well as glasses of wine
- Wine Tasting
This castle / fortress is built on the promontory jutting into the Ionian Sea at the tip of ancient Ortigia.
The site was originally a Greek temple, possibly the Temple of Hera.
The first fort was built in the 11th century.
In the Swabian period, between 1232 and 1240, a fortress was re-constructed on the site by Emperor Frederick II.
It was then used on and off by Sicilian royalty until the 16th century.
Following a huge explosion in 1704 it was rebuilt again as a fortress.
It was also used as monastery.
It was gifted as part of the fiefdom granted to Horatio Nelson by King Ferdinand III along with the title Duke of Bronte. Nelson's descendants and then the Bridport family continued to live in the castle until 1982.
Maniace Castle was then passed on to the Province of Catania.
In recent years, the Castle has been used as a venue for ballet performances and music events.
The Castle provided a magnificent setting for the G20 world conference of April 2009. The G20 conference was held in Siracusa partly because Stefania Prestigiacomo, who was Silvio Berlucsoni's Minister for Environment and Protection of Land and Sea, suggested her Sicilian home city.
Opening Times: 0900 - 1300 (ticket must be bought 30 minutes before closing time)
Closed Sunday and Monday (please check as this can vary)
Admission Price: €4
Reduction for 18-25 years: €2
Under 18 / Over 65 Free
Website for the Comune of Siracusa Tourism is in Italian language
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
Ortigia Boat Trips
This is something I have not done for years and cannot recommend one boat over another as there are variations to the trips. Some boats go east, some west, some to view Plemmirio, some tour the Porto Grande, some can be hired for parties, some of the smaller vessels stop for passengers to take a swim in the Ionian Sea. One consideration may be if the boat has a shelter from the wind or the sun. In any case do make sure to bring sun protection lotion, a hat that won't blow away and clothes for all eventualities.
The possibilities are endless with varying prices. I think the going rate should be around €15 for a bay 'trip' but next year (2014) at the beginning of the season I'll ask around and note here what I am told.
- Sailing and Boating
- Family Travel
Take a Carriage Ride around Ortigia
How relaxing would it be to ride in a horse and carriage around historic Ortigia.
The cost is €40 for a trip around the ancient island, well, that is the price I was quoted today!
This is a good way to get your bearings and save energy to explore on foot later in the day at passeggiata time.
Not quite a hop on hop off bus tour but could be a useful way to view the surroundings.
It goes without saying that you would be helping to boost the local economy in an ecological manner!
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Sunday Market in Borgata, Siracusa
Every Sunday morning Piazza Santa Lucia in the Borgata district of Siracusa, which is the ancient part of the mainland, buzzes with a market selling fruit and vegetables including the organic produce from the surrounds, local specialities, clothes (although sadly most of them are not Italian or even European), plants, antiques, bric a brac, second hand goods.
I don't have many photographs as it is not the sort of place to risk offending people if you know what I mean!
There are two local organic fruit and vegetable stalls.
The 2nd photo is the one I went to today - Azienda Agricola di Pietro - and bought, grapes, lemons, oranges, fagiolini (French beans), datterini tomatoes, their own produced olive oil, 3 jars of honey; 2 are agrumi (citrus) and one is sulla (cardo - the large wild artichokes that feed animals).
On the street at the side of the piazza are cafes/bars selling delicious snacks and drinks. I usually sit outside Le Zagare, address Piazza Santa Lucia,15. Today I had a latte macchiato and a Romana which is a delicious, oblong, sugar browned 'bun', for want of a better word, with riccotta filling.
The bar/tabaccheria just up the street is good too with just a couple of little tables inside and no outside seating, a little bit cheaper.
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Catacomba di San Giovanni & Cripta di San Marziano
The origins of this catacomb date back to the fourth century AD when the construction began over the remains of an ancient Greek aquaduct. This important section of the Christian history of Siracusa is part of an elaborate catacomb complex which is second only to Rome.
The church was not rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693 and has been deteriorating ever since then. It was one of the only buildings left standing in that part of Siracusa after the earthquake.
Open every day of the week
0930 - 1230 (last guided tour at 1230) and
1430 - 1730 (last guided tour at 1730)
Guided tours only provided by Kairos
You can take photographs of the outside of the church ruins and the beautiful rose window from inside the church ruins before descending to the catacombs. No photography is allowed past the entrance to the catacombs.
Admission Prices 2013:
€8 Full Price
€5 Reduced Price for over 65's
There is a garden and children's play area in the small square.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Market at Viale dei Comuni, Siracusa
This is the main market for the community of Siracusa.
Good stalls for fruit, vegetables, fish, clothes, etc.
Street parking nearby.
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday mornings until about lunch time closing up earlier in winter, when the weather is bad, than summer.
On Wednesdays there is a once a week larger market in the vicinity - on the large paved area called Piazza Marcello Sgarlata near Parco Robinson on Via Madre Teresa di Calcutta.
- Budget Travel
Ortigia at The Rocks - Swim / Paddle / Sunbathe
Locals and holidaymakers alike sunbathe on the rocks at this location on Ortigia.
Swimming is possible in the sea but if there is any hint of ripples be sure that you can climb easily back onto the rocks from the water. The rocks are extremely sharp!
This is available all year round and there is no charge.
There is a story behind the access to this facility. About ten years ago or more there was a more rickety access to the rocks which was sequestered by the Comune di Siracusa. The residents of Ortigia petitioned and petitioned until the Comune relented and provided the new metal stairs and bridge, I think it was about five years ago but as time flies I may be wrong!
The fifth and last photograph is of the only other 'beach' on Ortigia which is rather minute hence the need for a location to swim.
In the summer temporary beach areas are provided along the lungomare with access by stairs .
- Budget Travel
- School Holidays
This piazza is known as the 'elegant living room' of Ortigia.
In the middle of the square is the fountain of Diana.
There are some benches to sit on in the shade opposite the fountain at the top of Corso Matteotti.
My first photograph was taken whilst sitting on the first bench enjoying the view and the people watching!
- Arts and Culture
Visit 'The Aretusa Acquapark di Siracusa'
A popular and fun day out for all ages with lots of water activities including
Aquadance / Children's area / Big River / Black Cannon / Slow River / Lagoon for Adults / Multipista (many tracks) / waterfall oasis
Open from 15 June 2013 - 1 September 2013
There are different pricing tiers and the cash desks open at 0900 and Parking is €2 for car and scooters/motorbikes, €5 for motor homes. From 1300 - 1400 there is a break from the activities -
15 June - 8 August & 26 August - 1 September:
Adults €12 /Children 1m-1m40cm €7 /Children up to 1m Free: Monday - Saturday 0930 - 1830
Adults €7 /Children 1m-1m40cm €5 / Children up to 1m Free:Monday - Saturday 1400 - 1830
Adults €14 /Children 1m-1m40cm €7 /Children up to 1m Free: Sundays & Holidays 0930 - 1830
Adults €8 /Children 1m-1m40cm €5 /Children up to 1m Free: Sundays & Holidays 1400 - 1830
9 August - 25 August
Adults €16 /Children 1m-1m40cm €9 /Children up to 1m Free: Monday - Saturday 0930 - 1830
Adults €9 /Children 1m-1m40cm €6 /Children up to 1m Free: Monday - Saturday 1400 - 1830
Adults €18 /Children 1m-1m40cm €9 /Children up to 1m Free: Sundays & Holidays 0930 - 1830
Adults €10 /Children 1m-1m40cm €6 /Children up to 1m Free: Sundays & Holidays 1400 - 1830
I drove past today (31 May) and it is all in the process of being newly set up.
Please check the website below for further information
- Water Sports
- School Holidays
- Family Travel
Temple of Apollo
The Temple of Apollo is the oldest Greek temple in Sicily, and indeed the oldest Greek temple outside present-day Greece. It was built in the Doric style, dating from around 565 B.C. This temple is the first, in all Hellenic history, indexed and firmed by the model of peripetal temple with stone columns. The temple underwent several transformations: it was Byzantine church, from which is preserved the front staircase and traces of a Median door, and then became Arab mosque. Subsequently over it was built the Norman church of the Saviour, which then was incorporated into a 16th century Spanish barraks and in private buildings, of which some architectural elements still could be seen.
These subsequental overlappings severely damaged the original temple that was rediscovered in 1860 inside the barraks and was brought fully to light by the excavations performed by Paolo Orsi in the years between 1938 and 1942.
Of the original structure (58,10 x 24,50 m) that included 6 columns on the short sides and 17 on the long sides, only two columns were left standing on the south side, with part of .... and other columns on the same side and the side facing the east. On one of the steps on the east side is engraved inscription dedicated to Apollo, and you can also read the name of the architect, which is very rare for an Greek temple.
Basilica di San Nicolo dei Cordari
There is small and well preserved chapel, right at the entrance to the Archaeological Park of Neapolis where theatres are situated, however, it is fenced in and inaccessable for visitings. It was built above the roman water reservoir which is visible right below the construction. The reservoir was connected by the channel to the amphiteatre and served for cleaning it. The construction of this tank covered a stretch of road that originally led into the Latomia of Paradise. In early Christian and Byzantine hypogean environment was used as a church, while in the more recent period (17th c.) was also a place burial hall.
The basilica is a Norman building and was erected in the 11th century, among the first to be built after the expulsion of the Arabs and the restoration of Christian faith. The church, which retains all the charm of the Norman severity, has a single nave with portaletto that opens on the side. In 1093 there was the funeral of Jordan, son of Roger de Hauteville.
Gardens of Paradise
The Latomia or Gardens of Paradise were originally the immense quarries, both surface and especially underground. it is hard to establish an exact dating of "pietraje" (quarries), but it is likely that most of them are in use since 7th BC. According to the historians the quarries were also used as a place of restraint. Latomie served for the stones for construction of buildings, houses, monuments and street pavements.
During Byzantine times latomie served as underground burial places, and from which it draws the name "Street of Tombs" (in its walls have been excavated undergound burials).
Grotte dei Cordari
In Italian language "cordari" is expression for rope-makers. There are still covered so-called latomie, inside the Gardens of Paradise, which are actually the caves of cordari that for centuries, thanks to its length and the presence of water, hosted the manufacturers of ropes. The vault, inside the cave, is still supported by pillars left by the quarrymen of stones, and you can see huge blocks well squared hang from the ceilling like colossal stalactites.
- Book now for big savings!
- Hotels.com Outstanding choice of hotels all over the world at fantastic prices.
- Save money, Book now!
- Booking.com Excellent choice, Low rates