It’s very easy and pleasant to spend an hour walking around the entire island of Ortigia. Much of the waterfront area is made of grand houses and palaces; some parts have a busy promenade and others offer a short respite from the city’s tourist crowds. The area around the fountain of Arethusa gets very busy around sunset, and always keen to indulge in the sport of people-watching, we spent an enjoyable hour by the waterfront with an ice cream in hand, watching as the crowds stopped to take selfies and shop from the stalls on the shoreline.
For a different perspective of Syracuse, it’s also worth taking a boat ride from the harbour (touts sell various boat excursions throughout the day – most cost €10 per person). Some trips go around Ortigia, offering views of the old town and its grand waterfront buildings; others head north along the coast to see various caves and limestone formations in the rocks. Our visit coincided with a heatwave, and spending an hour on the water offered a chance to enjoy a cooling breeze as well the coastal views.
As one of Sicily’s main tourist hotspots, Syracuse has no shortage of options for food, especially around the old town of Ortigia. We had an excellent meal in the cosy A Putia restaurant, next to Piazza Archimide; the tuna with pistachio was delicious. And following a tip from a local ice cream devotee, we drove a mile or so north of Ortigia to reach Bar Tunisi, family run and very much a locals’ cafe, for our dessert. We were rewarded with a warm welcome and fabulous chocolate and ricotta gelato; it was definitely worth the detour.
by Andy Jarosz