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From Sea To Plate, The Siracusan Fishermen

Lost in time, the traditions of fishing are held strong here in Sicily. As an island surrounded by sea, the foods provided direct from the doorstep are nourishing on every level. The city of Siracusa, or Syracuse, dominates the east coast of the island to the south of Catania. There are several daily fresh food markets but the most famous can be found in Ortigia - the sleepy ancient part of the city that is connected by bridge. On this stunning peninsula are the fish and vegetable markets that restauranteurs, grandmothers and tourist all find themselves from early morning until lunchtime, snapping up the freshest of seasonal produce and catches direct from the sea. Plates across the cities restaurants and home cooked lunches and dinners adorning the delights of the fishermen's work.

However, each day the smaller fishing boats can be seen scattered along the port and besides the bridge dividing Corso Umberto Road in Siracusa with Piazza Pancali in Ortigia. From sunrise throughout the year, a glimpse into the past can be admired here. The one or two man boats, green and blue, are prepared by the local fishermen to set off for the days catch. There are no industrial mechanical nets or trawlers, no heavy fishing or chaos. Sure, there is noise, this is Sicily!

Lost in time - Siracusan Fishermen preparing their nets

Head over to behind the main 'open market' as the locals refer to it as, and as you arrive at the edge of Ortigia island by the bridge you can find the Siracusan fishermen tending to their boats and nets. The simplicity of their traditional fishing practices is mesmerising and a dying art in the more industrialised western European nations, the sight of these fathers passing down their fishing wisdom to their sons and nephews is a joy.

The road called Emanuale Giaraca, a Siracusan poet from the 1800's, is where you can find the humble dwellings of the fishermen family who sit early morning and afternoon adjusting and repairing their nets.

You won't find anything modern here and the family use the same nets time and time again, repair with old tools and know more about their boat maintenance than most modern fisherman would...

Siracusan fishermen fixing their nets - traditions and simplicity.
Siracusan fishermen fixing their nets - traditions and simplicity.

The boats are named with simple Sicilian names, Irene, Maria or Guiseppe, and dock peacefully under the sun, with million dollar yachts and cruise ships lingering in the background screaming all things modern. Away from the hustle and bustle of the market, the fishermen set up basic stalls by the boats and sell their catch along with the occasional seasonal fruit, usually oranges and lemons. For one euro your bag can be filled.

If you are looking for a holiday where traditions are still in full flow then the magical city of Siracusa won't disappoint. The simplicity and family values make walking around the city and Ortigia an unforgettable experience.


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