An Excursion into Antiquity: Siracusa

Appropriately strengthened our group headed out again and after passing through the old Arab Gate we explored an area called Lungomare Ortigia which features a beautiful piazza that faces out onto the waterfront. The Fonte Aretusa, a fountain that has been providing spring water since ancient times, faces the Porto Grande or Grand Harbour. The view across the water and down the waterfront promenade is simply precious.

Siracusa’s waterfront

This was a perfect time for some Sicilian gelato and off I went to grab a cone of delicious “nocciola” (hazelnut) and refreshing “limone” gelato. We strolled along the waterfront promenade and then headed into the old town again to walk in the shady narrow streets that are adorned by a myriad of unique balconies. We passed by Siracusa’s opera house which has actually been abandoned since the 1960s and was in disrepair. Despite its baroque beauty, Siracusa’s downtown streets and alleyways had a bit of a deserted feel to them.

One of the balconies in Siracusa

We headed back to our vehicles and drove into the countryside just outside Siracusa. Our final destination for the day was the “Castello Eurialo”, an ancient Greek fortification built on a hilltop in 402 B.C. by Dionysius the Elder. It featured two moats and a tower to protect the town of Syracuse and in its bowels it holds an amazingly well-preserved series of tunnels. The view from the castle is splendid, and to the north you can see one of the largest petroleum-processing areas in all of Southern Italy. Ancient history and modern history can coexist quite nicely in Sicily.

Castello Eurialo

After a really full day we started our trek back to Taormina, and sure enough, half an hour outside of town the skies started clouding over and it started to drizzle. After this long day of discoveries I was rather tired and had a quick meal in a local pizzeria, ready for another day of exploration.

The tunnels underneath the Castello Eurialo

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