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Visit Ortigia 2022, An Unforgettable Wander...

Trapped in time with regards to beauty and simplicity, the 'island of Ortigia' a peninsula of the eastern Sicilian city of Siracusa, will leave you feeling as if you have stepped inside the pages of an old book even before you have actually taken that first step over the Umbertino Bridge, one of two that connects mainland Siracusa to Ortigia. Just on approach, the ambiance shifts from Italian to Greek, as once the old Greek capital of Athens, Siracusa, especially Ortigia has a vast amount to offer that one could never imagine. We offer you in this blog a flavour of all things Ortigian. A stroll around the islands perimeter and labyrinth streets that criss cross the small town, showing you things to look out for and things not to miss. The most positive thing about taking a wander in and around Ortigia is that even though it is only about a kilometre squared you will be challenged to see it all in one go! To actually walk around in an aimless way, as to wander would imply, is probably the best way to take in the magic of this island. To let it find you rather than you find it. To allow the surprise of its sights to pop up on you and the awe of the landscapes to fill your eyes with wonder rather than to search for them. Let's go...

Starting at the hotel Algila (Number 1) on Via Vittorio Veneto opposite the emerald Ionian Sea, your visit to Ortigia in 2022 won't disappoint, where you can either go by foot or pick up a bike on us. Our special rooms offer personal jacuzzi overlooking the gorgeous emerald Ionian sea so one can relax before or after exploring the island.

Whatever your reason for visiting Ortigia; the arts, architecture, culinary offerings, the endless sun or just an escape, you will find more than you bargained for. The island is inhabited by many locals but also by guest of the island and hotel who return year after year. A small place with a lot to offer, where hours can be lost simply by people watching from so many of the little, cosy spots, winter or summer where the sun shines down and warms you inside and out.

The Castle 'Maniace' (Number 2) at the other end of the island of Ortigia is a museum in itself. Look closely or the markings on the walls from the old salt currency. Here there are concerts in the summer season, and spring brings the opening of the cafe/bar from morning until evening with views to die for of 'Isola', a beach district of Siracusa in the background.

The Temple of Apollo (Number 3), the ancient Greek Temple named after the god of poetry, music, sun and knowledge is a wonderful sight into yesteryear. Sit and watch the world go by at one of the cafes in front. Be sure to take a photo of the market and sea through what was once a window to the temple. Many people walk past not realising the view through the old window.

The market and sea through what was once a window to the Temple of Apollo, Ortigia, Sicily
The market and sea through what was once a window to the Temple of Apollo, Ortigia, Sicily

Piazza Duomo, meaning Cathedral (Number 4) is a place so beautiful that it has recently been chosen as the backdrop for many famous Italian brands, such as Peroni, Dolce and Gabbana and San Pellegrino. From Caravaggio to the ancient Arabic mosque that once was the cathedral, The place of rest for the Saint Lucia of Siracusa, be sure to take time to see this magnificent square by day or night.

The little beach in Ortigia 'Callarossa' (Number 5) on the eastern side is a wonderful place for sunrise and sunbathing. A little dip in the sea is the perfect way to cool down and slow down on this little island. The market (Number 6) is where all your senses will come alive from the sights, sounds and tastes. You have to experience it to believe it. Simplicity at its best were both locals and tourists come to buy produce, fish and spices. There are many cafes, bars and restaurants selling fresh and typical food and drink.

The marina (Number 7) is a place for sunsets and more cafes and bars. Watch the mega yachts, fishing boats or cruise ships pass by or dock. A true wonder. Mount Etna in the background makes for an incomparable view. The wide tree lined promenade offers both locals and tourists a place to take a carefree walk in the shade. As you walk to the southern-end of the marina, a winding slope (also with steps) leads up to the Fountain of Aretusa (Number 8). A small green statue hidden amongst the branches of the trees peers out, a symbol of mythical tales of the past. Look deep into the pond and see the fish swimming around the papyrus - a place to pickup an ice cream, coffee or aperitivo and watch the world go by. The view over the sea and local fishermen only adds to the charm of Ortigia's charm. The restaurants along the 'lungomare alfeo' promenade offer your usual Sicilian food and beverage but as a perfect spot for sunset watching, a number of smaller cafes offering aperitivo have popped up at the southern end nearer the castle. Be sure to go.

There is a secret that lies below the promenade - and that is the original jewish bathing area from centuries ago where ladies would go, a bonding place. The restaurant in which you can see this historical wonder in Ortigia does have a glass floor to look down as you eat however countless people have say eating and never realised what lies below. There are only a few restaurants on the promenade - will you fid the right one...?

The square leading up from the Temple of Apollo along Corse Matteotti is Piazza Archimede (Number 9) where you will be treated to a magnificent view of Mount Etna if you look directly down this road on a clear day - which is almost everyday. You can read more here in the blog about this wonderful Ortigian piazza.

The Jewish quarter of Ortigia, Siracusa (Number 10 and 11) is known as Giudecca. What an unexpected site of both historical interest and vibrant modern Sicilian life. Just off Via Meastranza, on the eastern side of Ortigia island, many relics and signs of the old jewish population are visible. Hebrew writing on the stones that lay in the courtyards of the main historical buildings which are now museums. The true beauty of the quarter is that there is an inclusive feeling of interfaith where the local Saint Lucia can be seen also with statues and photos dotted around the buildings.

Site 11 is also the place where you can find Ortigia's longest street name. This 'ronco' is and was the old home of a bakers family, Drago which still flourishes. The poor child that had to recall his address at school....

Ortigia's longest street name ~ a 'ronco  shows the site of a bakers family
Ortigia's longest street name ~ a 'ronco shows the site of a bakers family

Via labyrinth (Number 12) is literally named after the shape of the ear - a maze of little alleys that connect Via Roma, Via Meastranza and Via Giudecca. A small area so you can afford to get lost in here! Not far from here and through the back of Piazza Duomo along via Roma you can find the controversial statue of Mother Mary placed in a horizontal position, like it or loathe it, it attracts a lot of discussion. It is not in an obvious spot to find so we offer you a picture of what to look out for...

Ortigia, site of the controversial statue of Mother Mary placed in a horizontal position
Ortigia, site of the controversial statue of Mother Mary placed in a horizontal position

This concludes our offering of an unforgettable wander around Ortigia, Siracusa in 2022. You will experience a whole raft of other sensory pleasures here on this gorgeous island. Get here by boat, plane, train or car, it is well worth the visit. We look forward to seeing you soon.


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