Sumptuous Siracusa holidays 2019 / 2020
Siracusa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a beautiful and ancient city, set in the southeast corner of the Mediterranean island of Sicily. It’s filled with magnificent ruins that attest to its former glory as a powerful Greek city-state, including a spectacular theatre and amphitheatre that form the centrepiece of the Neapolis Archaeological Park. There are more ancient monuments in the charming historic quarter of Ortigia, which sits on a tiny island. Siracusa is a fantastic base for exploring this beautiful region, whether you want to climb Mount Etna, explore Baroque towns like Noto, go hiking over hills draped in olive groves, or simply bask on some stunning and blissfully uncrowded beaches.
Siracusa was once one of the most powerful Greek city-states, and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its magnificent ancient ruins. Many of these, including the spectacular Greek theatre and Roman amphitheatre, are now part of the Neapolis Archaeological Park. The historic quarter of Ortigia, which sits on a tiny island accessed by bridge, is utterly enchanting. Its narrow streets are lined with splendid Baroque palaces and ancient ruins, and the charming squares and filled with fountains and pavement cafés. There are tiny little coves on Ortigia, and dozens more lovely beaches dot the coast around Siracusa. There are lots of fantastic day trips, from climbing Mount Etna to exploring the picture-postcard Baroque town of Noto – also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Siracusa has a fantastic choice of places to eat and drink, from award-winning fine dining to family-run traditional taverns. There’s also lots of fantastic Sicilian street food to try, particularly if you make it to the atmospheric morning market in Ortigia. Arancini (fried, stuffed rice balls with different fillings) or scaccia (filled pies) are perfect for eating on the go. Other delicious Sicilian specialities that you won’t want to miss include pasta dishes such as pasta alla Norma, with a tasty tomato and aubergine sauce, or the pasta con le sarde, which is made with sardines and anchovies. There is a huge choice of cheeses and charcuterie to try, and you can finish up with the famous cannoli, pastry shells stuffed with sweet ricotta.
Kids will adore Siracusa, and the locals will adore your kids. The restaurants and cafés are all very family friendly, and there are lots of wonderful places to enjoy an ice-cream. It’s a fun town to explore with children, who will find the enormous Greek and Roman monuments fascinating, and will enjoy running wild through the narrow streets of Ortigia. You can whisk them off for a day at the beach: the nearest sandy beaches are at Aranella, which are shallow enough for even the smallest children and can be reached by bus or taxi. Or you could take them up to see the smoking craters at the top of Mount Etna.
Action & Adventure
There are lots of fantastic activities in and around Siracusa. You can enjoy some water sports such as paddle-boarding at the beaches south of the city, particularly in Fontane Bianche. The Parco Marino del Plemmirio is a beautiful marine reserve on a craggy headland, which is perfect for snorkelling, and boasts sea caves and a wealth of aquatic creatures. The Vendicari Nature Reserve south of Siricusa is a fantastic place for bird-watching. Inland, you can go walking or canyoning in the Cavagrande del Cassibile nature reserve, which follows the course of the Cassibile River. And of course, there are more magnificent hikes on Mount Etna, the enormous and still active volcano that dominates Sicily’s eastern coast.
There are some tiny rocky coves on Ortigia, Siracusa’s historic quarter, but the best beaches are found just outside the town. Arenella has a lovely sandy beach, which is shallow enough for kids to splash about in safely. It has lots of facilities including sun beds and parasols, along with a good beach bar for drinks and snacks. Continuing south, Ognina has some delightful little rocky coves, which have few facilities but are blissfully uncrowded. Fontane Bianche is a popular little resort, which has a long sandy beaches with plenty of facilities. Some of the most beautiful and unspoilt beaches in Sicily are found in the Vendicari nature reserve, about a 30-minute drive from Siracusa.
There are lots of bars and cafés in Siracusa where you can enjoy a few drinks after the sun goes down. Many of them are concentrated in the charming historic quarter of Ortigia, which has lots of lovely terraces where you can sit out with a bottle of wine and soak up the gorgeous views. The nightlife goes on late in this corner of the Mediterranean, and there are plenty of nightclubs and live music venues that get going after midnight. You could also hit some of the beach bars south of the city: the bars in Fontane Bianche are especially buzzy in the summer months.
Siracusa is a charming and historic city that is perfect for a relaxed and romantic holiday. The ancient ruins are spectacular, and the charming little streets of Ortigia are a delight to explore hand-in-hand. In the evenings, you can enjoy romantic meals by the waterfront and perhaps order a bottle of wine and soak up the gorgeous views of the Ionian Sea. There are some spectacular walks above Siracusa, including one to the Eurialo Castle, which has tremendous views over the coastline. If you want to find some blissfully unspoilt and empty beaches, drive south to the Vendicari Nature Reserve.
Founded by Greek settlers in the 8th century BC, Siracusa grew to become one of the most powerful city-states in Magna Graecia. Most of its biggest and most spectacular surviving monuments are founded in the Neapolis Archaeological Park, which has one of the largest Greek theatres ever built and a huge Roman amphitheatre. The city’s excellent archaeological museum displays finds from the site. The tiny island of Ortigia, now the enchanting historic heart of the city, contains more ancient monuments, many of which were incorporated into later buildings. These include the magnificent Baroque cathedral, which was built using the enormous columns of the Roman temple to Athena.