Syracuse (Siracusa) is a medium sized city on the eastern coast of Sicily, Italy with an interesting mixture of ancient and modern. The capital of the province of Syracuse, it was once described by Cicero as "the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all."
Syracuse is an ancient town on the sea, which was of great importance as Greek Syracuse. It has a well known archaeological zone and a historic centre on the island of Ortygia (Ortigia).
Syracuse is a pleasant town, with plenty to occupy tourists for at least a couple of days. It's also a good area for seeing the south-eastern corner of Sicily, including the Baroque towns of Ragusa and Noto, several archaeological sites, and the lively city of Catania. "Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica" have been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Syracuse is served by urban buses run by AST, whose bus station is just across the bridge into Ortygia, at Riva della Posta.
The railway station is at Piazzale Stazione Centrale a 20 minutes walk to the centre of the old town.
Two daily intercity trains from mainland Italy (Rome and Naples) continue on from Messina via Catania to Syracuse. There are also different daliy sleeper trains from mainland Italy (Rome, Milano, Venezia, Turion, Genova and Biologna) to Syracuse (Siracusa). These trains from the mainland connect via a ferry.
Travelling by train from Palermo is a bit harder; you will need to change at least once (usually at Messina), and the journey will take 6-7 hours.
The closest airport is Catania to the north of Syracuse, which offers direct bus service. The bus services from the airport are usually timed to match incoming and outgoing flights. Journey time is a bit more than one hour. Alternatively, late at night or on public holidays, it may be easier to take a bus or taxi from the airport to Catania train station and then travel by train to Syracuse.
Bus no 26 run from downtown past Sanctuary Lacrime and Neopolis.
- Nolo Point, Gazebo Pz Pncali, tel: +39 348 9506338. Rents out electrical bicycles, scooters, canoes, campers etc.
Syracuse is on the train line that runs from Messina, Taormina and Catania along the coast.
The centre of town is easily visitable on foot - the island of Ortygia contains most of the sights, and is compact and pleasant for strolling. The archaeological area is about 25 minutes' walk away from the island.
- Apollo temple
- The Old town on Ortygia island. It is the oldest part of Syracuse and quite a charming town. In Ortygia, the Aretus a Fountain is where many poets and writers went to be inspired. The legend says that Alpheus, Son of Oceanus, fell madly in love with the a nymph named Aretusa. The nymph didn't share their feelings. To save her, Artemides turned her into a water source. Zeus also turned Alpheus into a river, allowing him to meet up with Aretusa.
- The Cathedral.
- Piazza del Duomo.Piazza Duomo
- Neapolis - the ancient city, including the Greek Theatre, Quarries, Caves and Roman Amphitheatre. Admission €6. Neapolis Virtual tour
- Sanctuary Madonna della Lacrime A huge concrete cone church built over a mass-produced Madonna statue that cried in 1954.
- Basilica of Santa Lucia with Caravaggio Painting in Piazza Duomo: Basilica of Santa Lucia extra Moenia, a Byzantine church built, according to tradition, in the same place of the martyrdom of the saint in 303 AD. The current appearance is from the 15th-16th centuries. The most ancient parts still preserved include the portal, the three half-circular apses and the first two orders of the belfry.
- Under the church there are the Catacombs of St. Lucy.
- Maniace Castle in Ortigia.
- Ipogoe in Duomo Square.
- Greek Theater: Teatro Greco: Built in c. 470 B.C. but since then has gone through reconstruction. Greek drama is now re-enacted there, but in the Italian language.
- Catacombs of San Giovanni: An underground necropolis dating back to the fourth century.
- Latomia del Paradiso: The Latomia are ancient stone quarries that were worked on beginning from the sixth century B.C. onwards. Latomia del Paradiso is the best known of quarries. It has two underground galleries. The first is known as "The Ear of Dionysios" because of its acoustics. The legend says that the tyrant, Dionysios, could stand at one end and listen to whispered conversations of those imprisoned therein. The second gallery is called the Cave of Ropes (Grotto dei Cordari) where rope makers practiced their trade.
- Museo Nuovo Archeologico/Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi: Villa Landolina houses Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi, which is the second most important archeology museum in Sicily.
- Fonte Arethusa: Spring of Arethusa is a pond surrounded by papyrus reeds and formed by a freshwater spring near the sea. Ancient myth says that the nymph, Arethusa, fled from Greek river-god Alpheios and fell into the sea. She resurfaced in Ortygia in the old town of Syracuse.
- Necropolis: Burial caves dating back from c. 1270 B.C.
Syracuse is an amazing city of culture and history ready to be explored and savored. Activities that can be organized include culture & language classes, Sicilian cooking classes & wine tasting, outdoor excursions (hiking, cycling, climbing, sailing, scuba diving), excursions all over the island, workshops (Sicilian puppet making, ceramics, photography, painting).
There are also many night clubs along the coastline on the Alfeo Promenade. Some have dance floors on the beach so that you can dance under the moonlight.
- Foro Italica: This is a beautiful promenade, where many come to walk and relax. It is said that the trees make people want to spend the day under them.
- Festival of Santa Lucia: Takes place on December 13. A solid silver statue of the patron saint is carried to Basilica del Sepolcro where it remains for eight days.
- Theatrical Season at the Greek Theater: Goes from May to July. Throughout these months, they stage dramas by famous authors such as Aeschylus and Euripides.
The outdoor market in Ortigia is one of the most amazing places. Here you can find the freshest and finest fish, vegetables and fruits available. The experience and color are memorable. Other than food, you can find almost anything you will need for you holiday experience in Syracuse from clothing to extra baggage.
One of the most popular craft products in Syracuse is papyrus paper. Local pottery is also a common product to buy. If you are looking for the perfect gift, buy a bottle of Nero d'Avola or a jar of their famous fish preserves.
Every Sunday a large outdoor market (mostly clothes, souvenirs and some food) takes place on Piazza S. Lucia on the mainland.
- Ristorante Pizza Minerra, ☎ +39 0931 169 404. Prime position in Piazza del Duomo. Has decent pizza and pasta.
- La Siciliana, Via Savoia. A good, local pizzeria, with a wide range of pizzas and a comfortable, friendly atmosphere. The small interior is lined with old photos of the town.
- L'Ancora, ☎ +39 0931 462 369. An out of the way find on Via Guglielmo Perno. It is very seafood-heavy.
- Archimede, Via Gemmellaro 8 (off Via Cavour). This trattoria-pizzeria is recommended by the guidebooks, and you can tell it from the clientele. There's not a huge amount of atmosphere but the food is good (fish is the speciality) and prices are reasonable.
- Il Cenacolo. This busy trattoria-pizzeria has an outdoor terrace and a cosy interior, and offers a wide range of pizzas and other dishes, including excellent risotto, sea food and couscous.
- Quel che trovi, Via E. Giaraca 22, ☎ +39 348 9506338. Has some Sicilian house specialties.
- Don Camillo, Via delle Maestranza, ☎ +39 0931 67 133. Specializes in creative spins on traditional Sicilian dishes. Prices are not too expensive even though they have top notch food.
Most cheap hotels are located east of the train station. There is a number of Bed and Breakfasts around the post office and east of the Apollo temple.
- B&B Sleep in Sicily, Via delle Vergini 20, ☎ +39 3397995936. Near the Aretusa Fountain and Duomo square on Ortigia island. 3 star bed and breakfast with bath ensuite, tv, digital terrestrial, frigobar, air condition. From €30 to 40 per day per person.
- Resort Sant'Agostino (Residence Siracusa), Traversa Serramendola 12, ☎ +39 0931 717229, e-mail: email@example.com. 4 star resort with spa, Sant'Agostino Residence offers free wi-fi, spa, jacuzzi, turkish bath, solarium and nice apartaments composed of a kitchen and living room, bedroom and bathroom.
- Hotel Posta, Via Trieste 33, ☎ +39 0931 21819. Next to the main post office and bus terminal on Ortigia island. Standard hotel rooms with bathroom, AC, TV, minibar, and balcony. €80 with very good breakfast. (€45-100 seasonal)
- Sorella Luna, Via Francesco Crispi 23, ☎ +39 0931 21178, fax: +39 0931 449671. Simple low budget accommodation with a pleasant atmosphere, family run and central to everything.
- B & B Asparano. Is in a privileged position just 200 metres from the sea. Located halfway between Syracuse and the famous resort of Fonta.
- B & B Gelone. Is in the heart of the city of Syracuse: Course Gelone. This road town is a strategic position: you can r.
- Hotel Archimede. Small hotel directly cared for by the owners. Located at the heart of the city is near the railway station. The historic centre (the island of Ortigia).
- Aretusa Vacanze guesthouse, Via Arsenale 44, +39 0931 492 870. In the heart of Ortygia between Piazza del Duomo and the Aretusa spring. Includes wi-fi connection.
- LoL Hostel Siracusa, Via F. Crispi 92_94_96, ☎ +39 0931 465088. The only hostel in Siracusa, newly renovated, 50 m from the train and bus station, 8 minutes walking from Ortigia and the Archaeological Park. Cheap 4, 8/10 and 20 beds dorms and private rooms all with bathroom and air conditioned. Open 24 hours, WiFi free, no curfew, no lockout, free lockers in rooms, multilingual friendly staff. Clean rooms and toilets, breakfast with fresh coffee and croissants. Nice big terrace for meeting other travellers and chilling. Dorms from €18 to 25 per person per night. Private double rooms from €30 to 35 per person per night.
- NH Venus Sea Garden Resort, ☎ +39 0931998946. Contrada Monte Amara. NH Venus Sea Garden Resort is situated among the rocks of a splendid bay, where you can lose yourself in the soft harmony with it's sandstone construction. The hotel is extended upon a promontory, in a charming setting filled with gardens rich of beautiful flowers and terraces overlooking the sea, infront of the incomparible extraordinary sight of Etna.
- Il Villino del Gambero. Private vacation rental with seaview on a bay called "Baia del Gambero".
- ArteMare Siracusa. Elegance and style are combined with a warm welcome and friendly atmosphere. Short distance to Ortigia: rooms with private bathroom with shower.
- L'Approdo delle Sirene Siracusa B&B, Riva Garibaldi, 15, ☎ +39 0931 24 857, fax: +39 0931 483 765. Historical and aristocratic building. Large bedrooms (some with balcony) furnished in the Mediterranean style with complimentary breakfast. In the summer months this service is available on the terrace with view ever the sea.
- Residenza Alla Giudecca Siracusa, Via Alagona, 52. 14 dwellings set in a magnificent medieval building in the heart of Ortigia. Beneath the property is an ancient Hebrew bath used for purification rituals in the Byzantine era.
- Royal Maniace Hotel Syracuse, Lungomare Ortigia, 13, ☎ +39 0931 67437, fax: +39 0931 480489. Four star hotel which presents 21 bedrooms divided in twin, double and triple, some with sea view. All the accommodations come with private bath, shower, air conditioning, satellite TV and mini bar. Among the public areas and services: the restaurant, private parking and the meeting hall with internet connection and LCD screen TV.
- Hotel La Rosa Sul Mare Siracusa, Via Dei Diamanti, 16, ☎ +39 0931 714813, fax: +39 0931 714970. Four star hotel in front of the sea. An elegant building of the 19th century with a wide selection of bedrooms, a swimming pool and nearby tennis courts.
- Hotel Palazzo Giaracà Syracuse, Via dei Mille, 34, ☎ +39 0931 464907, fax: +39 0931 480419. A unique three star hotel on Ortigia, close to the historic centre of Syracuse. The hotel, famous for its large and comfortable common areas, also offers a wide selection of bedrooms divided in twin, double, triple and family, plus a few self catering apartments for longer stays.
- Caol Ishka Hotel, Via Elorina 154, ☎ +39 0931 69057, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Boutique hotel with large gardens, swimming pool and fine restaurant. Located on the bank of river Anapo beside Fiume Ciane, a natural reserve, five minutes from the old town of Siracusa/Ortigia.
- Grand Hotel Villa Politi, Via M. Politi, 2, ☎ +39 0931 412121, fax: +39 0931 36061. Elegant four star hotel with 100 rooms overlooking the city centre and the Mediterranean.
- Grande Albergo Alfeo Syracuse, Via Nino Bixio, 5, ☎ +39 093 121676, fax: +39 0931 463915. Four star hotel with 39 single, twin, double and triple bedrooms with private bath, satellite LCD TV and WiFi. Also available bar, restaurant, meeting room, private parking and breakfast buffet included. Double room: €80.
- Hotel Cavalieri, e-mail: email@example.com. Boutique hotel in the historical centre, just bordering Ortygia. Amenities: Wifi, king-size bed, air condition, concierge, laundry service, airport shuttle service.
- Hotel del Santuario, Via del Santuario, 1, ☎ +39 0931 465656, fax: +39 0931 465565. Recently rejuvenated 4 star hotel near the archaeological zone.
- Hotel Des Etrangers et Miramare, Passeggio Adorno 10/12, ☎ +39 0931 319100, fax: +39 0931 319000. 5 Star luxury hotel overlooking the bay of Syracuse.
- Villa dei Papiri. The farm is 6 km from Syracuse, closely woven with the history of Syracuse, its most ancient legends.
- Grand Hotel, Via Mazzini 14, ☎ +39 0931 464 600. Four star hotel right on the waterfront of Ortygia.
- Mediterraneo Hotel, Via Tripoli, 40. In the centre of the city.
- Des Etrangers et Miramare, Paseggio Adorno 10/12, ☎ +39 0931 626 71. One of the fanciest luxury hotels. Has a roof garden.
- Grand Hotel Minareto Deluxe, Via del Faro Massolivieri 26/a, ☎ +39 0931 721222. Luxury hotel located in Ortigia, the old centre, featuring a private access to the beach. €80-€480.
AST buses connect to nearby places and cities. AST bus station is just across the bridge into Ortygia, at Riva della Posta.
- Bus 12 is a circular line Siracusa - Fontane Bianche
The railway station is at Piazzale Stazione Centrale, a twenty-minute walk from Ortygia.
Note that in addition to the five main platforms numbered 1-5, the station has three smaller platforms also numbered 1-3 that are marked 'Ovest'. If you are heading westwards in the direction of Gela it is prabably these you will need. Be careful and look for the correct platform.