It is hard to imagine a more fascinating place in Sicily than Ortigia. Three hours after we picked up our rented car in Palermo we arrived in Ortigia, the historical center of Siracusa. Ortigia is an island that is connected to the mainland by three bridges. We soon discovered that Ortigia’s narrow, medieval streets made it difficult to find our hotel. It was almost impossible to get good GPS readings because of the stone buildings. Fortunately we did get close enough such that when we asked a local resident for directions he said, “follow me”. We did and arrived at La Via della Guidecca B&B within a minute.
Ortigia: Perfect for walking and relaxing
During our four-night stay we parked the car and explored Ortigia on foot. The streets that accommodated cars are mostly one-way streets. The alleys are only navigable by very small vehicles, or on foot. During our Ortigia walks we discovered interesting courtyards to explore, just off the streets and alleyways.
Walking around Ortigia we discovered historic buildings and landmarks. On the Piazza di Archimedes there are many stunning buildings, such as the Bank of Sicily. We were surprised to discover that Ortigia is the birthplace of Archimedes. This historical heart of Siracusa also has a Greek archaeological site.
The Greek influence on the layout of streets and alleys is well preserved in today’s Ortigia. In addition to exploring the many courtyards, alleyways and narrow streets we visited Ortigia’s seawall and marina area. The Ortigia marina was fun to explore and we did. We discovered boats with names like Blu Marlin. At the end of the day we enjoyed watching the sunset from the marina.
Before leaving Ortigia we decided to check out the local spa services. Our B&B recommended the spa at the Grand Hotel Ortigia.
Our walks led to many pleasant encounters, like the ginger kitty we met one day on our walk. Amid all the rich history of Ortigia you will find the locals going about their daily living. One of the best places to observe this is at the market.
Ortigia’s market is fun to explore
Ortigia’s market is so pleasing to the senses. Most visitors will be immediately impressed by the quality of the produce at Italian markets and Ortigia’s market was no exception. It is impossible to visit this market without checking out the fruit, vegetable, cheese and fish stands. We could not resist stopping to buy some cheeses, tomatoes and olive oil to make a caprese salad. Of course we could not resist buying some equally tempting fruit. While in Ortigia we also sampled the culinary offerings at our B&B breakfasts and at the local restaurants.
All too soon our stay in Ortigia was over. Yes, it was so easy to fall in love with Ortigia. In fact our stay in Ortigia was an amazing part of a two-week exploration of Sicily. Do not forget to check out my travels in Sicily and elsewhere at Spaswinefood, or visit my travel column at the Examiner.
© Sharon Parsons
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