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Ortigia (Siracusa old town)

 

Link to Siracusa - the Neapolis Area

 

 

The Piazza del Duomo is a large friendly open space, surrounded by interesting buildings.

 

Above is the facade of the Palazzo of the Archbishop, next door to the Duomo. 

 

Above right the Palazzo, Duomo (also on the right) and Town Hall facades, faced by the Palazzo Beneventato del Bosco.

 

The Duomo itself incorporates significant elements of the Doric Greek Temple of Athena built in around 480 BC to celebrate the victory of Himera.  Most obvious are the massive stone columns that can be seen below, and below right embedded in the bulging north wall of the Duomo.  The battlements at the bottom right are a remnant of the Islamic occupation of Sicily during the nine and ten hundreds.

 

Ortigia is full of decaying Palazzi, fascinating side streets / restaurants, and, interestingly it is home to a passeggiata full of young couples (and prams) rather than just the old boys one finds in,  for example, Agrigento.  A pleasant place to hang out!

 

 

The Swabian Palazzo Bellomo houses the Galleria Regionale, which includes this magnificent fifteen foot high 1608 Caravaggio painting "Il Seppellimento di Santa Lucia" (patron Saint of Siricusa - her Feast Day is December 13)

 

A stone coat of arms exhibit in the Palazzo Bellomo, which is also an interesting building in its own right

Don't ask us what is going on here, but she really is horizontal and looking skywards!

Archimedes (BC 287 - 212 (75)), philosopher, mathematician, engineer and inventor, lived in Siricusa until his premature death at the end of a Roman Soldier's sword (unkindly characterised as the only impact the Roman Empire had on philosophy) in the Second Punic War.  In the centre of the Piazza Archimede is a large water feature centering on Diana (the Goddess one).

 

Ortigia is full of narrow streets and interesting balconies, facades, restaurants, churches, crumbling palazzos etc ..... and it is also the only place outside Egypt where Papyrus is found growing (well, so they say in Ortigia, but Fra Gregory tells the Dom that it grows in river beds around Castellina and probably many other places).  The Ortigians think that it was brought here from Egypt around 300 BC. 

 

Papyrus was not only pressed to make a flat surface to write and paint on, it was also a primary building material for canoes large and small - aided by the belief that crocodiles were afraid of attacking papyrus boats because it would anger one of the Egyptian gods.  There is a small Papyrus museum near the large Archaeological  Museum in Siracusa.

 

A HOTEL & RESTAURANTS

The Albergo Domus Marie, Via Vittorio Veneto 76 (email etc shown in the card below, and remember that if dialling Italy from overseas, you leave in the "0") is a completely refurbished Ursuline convent and school now run as a three star hotel.  The morning view alone would call for a stay!  It is also an extremely helpful and pleasant place and a five minute walk from many restaurants and the Piazza del Duomo .......

Antonio Lammitti's spacious and immaculately run restaurant bearing the name of Siricusa's famous philosopher scientist citizen is an outstanding seafood experience.  One of their house specialities is sea bass poached in sea water.  Make sure to book, it's always full.

 

In the same area are a number of more local Trattorias / Pizzerias which are all good and good fun.  Try for example La Tavernetta di Russo Grazia, Via Cavour 44, just round the corner from Archimede, with its post box red tables and chairs and red and white chequered table cloths.

 

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