MiniGuida at the 2018 Caportigia holidays
Sicily is a land that is loved by its people but even more so by those who come to see it for the first time. It is love at first sight thanks to the beauty of its sea and its culture: In particular Syracuse and its province has all this and much more, and thanks to this mini-guide that the Hotel Caportigia has prepared, you can get to know. Want to organize an unforgettable vacation? Well, read on … and get ready to know the most beautiful place in the world!
7 fantastic days in Syracuse that will remain indelible
To get to know eastern Sicily well, it takes a longer time than a simple weekend, because there are so many places you can see that a few days would let many goodies escape. We will move from the heart, Syracuse, to places reachable within 30 minutes from the city.
The Great Beauty is here: let yourself be fascinated by Syracuse
Arrived in Syracuse with your own vehicle or through our Transfer service from Catania Fontanarossa airport, settle in your room and leave your luggage. A long walk awaits you with comfortable shoes and sun protection.
From the hotel you can reach the island of Ortigia in 5 minutes on foot, a popular destination for every visitor. It welcomes some of the most important structures of the city such as the Palazzo Borgia del Casale, a noble apartment of the powerful Borgia family of the ‘700. Its balconies directly overlook Piazza Duomo, leaving the eyes enriched by the white of the bricks used for each building on the square.
The cathedral is a marvelous example of Baroque architecture rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693. It is dedicated to the Nativity of Mary and built on an even older structure, which dates back to Greek times where the temple of Athens stood in the 5th century BC This can be deduced from the visibly older columns with a classic cut that break from the Gothic facade. Still in the square it is possible to admire the Palazzo Senatorio, seat of the Town Hall, built in the ‘600. To the right of the cathedral we find the Bishop’s Palace, the Monastro and the Church of Santa Lucia. To the left there are private residences such as Palazzo Gaetani and Palazzo Beneventano del Bosco.
A wonderful spot to look at the sea that surrounds the island is from the Fonte Aretusa, also known as the Fountain of the Ducks to which we have dedicated an entire article telling the love story between the nymph of Diana, Aretusa and her lover Alfeo who is turned into a river to reach his beloved from neighboring Greece. The coast reserves marvelous surprises as of the splendid caves that can be visited by boat excursions.
After this walk the appetite arrives and lunch time, for a different location than usual you can take advantage of the boat trip for a lunch on board the boat. From it you can admire the rock of the galley and some Syracuse beaches like that of Carrozze. From the sea it is wonderful to look at the imposing Maniace Castle, built in 1000 by Giorgio Maniace who freed the city from Arab domination. Over time it has undergone several changes, the structure we see today is the result of the 13th century restoration. of Frederick II of Swabia in 1204 that after returning from the Crusades wanted the construction of several castles in Sicily.
After relaxing on the boat, in the afternoon a visit to the Jewish quarter of Ortigia awaits us, in its alleys in Via della Giudecca you can discover a small theater where we will meet the famous Sicilian puppets. The puppet theater plays works visible only in Sicily, made up of knights armed with swords and shining armor that fight to free their land from the non-faithful in the period of the Crusades. The language they use is ancient and polished, often in rhyme like an old story that comes to life through the threads of the master puppeteers.
After a day full of new discoveries and intense emotions, returning to the family context of your room is a moment to rest and gather strength for the next few days to discover the surroundings of Syracuse. For the most refined palates it is possible to book a table at the restaurant attached to our Hotel, or “Il Tiranno”, which is the best gourmet restaurant in Syracuse, where you can enjoy the fantastic dishes prepared by the chef that everyone envies us, Valentina Galli. If maybe you don’t really want to dine we suggest you sip (maybe on the terrace) a glass of wine: thanks to our Antonio you can taste and above all know, the precious labels present in our cellar.
Sicily is sea, so let’s go to the beaches of Syracuse
In a few kilometers you will find beaches that do not fear the comparison with the Caribbean ones, driving along the southern coast are the Arenella and Fontane Bianche, with numerous refreshment points and services that are also suitable for those traveling with children. You can get there by city buses or by train, as well as by car.
For those who love exploration it is a must to discover the protected marine area of Plemmirio with over 30 coves including Punta Castelluccio, Punto della Mola, Punta del Gigante and the lighthouse of Capo Murro di Porco. In addition to the extreme beauty in which rock, beach and land merge is a place full of history. In fact it has been shown that the “Grotta Pellegrina” was the refuge of our prehistoric ancestor, while from the tip of the Mola it is possible to admire the necropolis from the Bronze Age and the village.
Punta della Mola and Capo Murro di Porco are rich in underground connections that were used during the Second World War. Surely they are stories that are not common to other beach resorts.
Continuing for another 20 km instead you can reach the beach of the marquise, delineated by the Cassibile river and the cliff. A place where nature has never stopped taking its course, a little earthly paradise.
The capitals of the baroque: Noto and Modica
Since 2002 the city of Noto has been called “Capital of the Baroque”, a title given by UNESCO after having recognized it as a World Heritage Site. The one inhabited is Noto Nuova, rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693, the old center, Noto Antica, can still be visited but only old walls of the glorious city remain. The entrance to the historic center of Noto is framed by the Porta Reale, a triumphal arch from the 1800s built for King Ferdinand II of Borbone, king of the two Sicilies./p>
Along the Corso Vittorio Emanuele you will be able to admire noble palaces and the Piazza Immacolata, at the top of the staircase you will be able to admire the church of San Francesco all’Immacolata. To its left we find the elegant monastery of S. Salvatore with the tower and the belvedere, to the right is the former cloistered convent of Santa chiara. Continuing along the course, here is the magnificent town hall square with the imposing Cathedral and Palazzo Ducenzio.
Looking carefully at the square you can see a steep street, the Nicolaci street where there are baroque palaces adorned with mermaids, putti, horses, lions and mythological characters. In the surroundings of Noto it is possible to stop at the Cellars, to make an excellent aperitif by tasting local wines immersed in nature.
A few kilometers away is Modica, famous for its history and for chocolate. It rises around the ruins of an ancient castle, creating a tangle of narrow streets that lead up to the highest part of the city.
The medieval architecture marries beautifully with the baroque of noble palaces and immense churches such as the Church of San Giorgio, with its 250 steps and its rich façade.
The main course presents the Church of the Carmine, dating back to 1500 with its interior with a single Gothic nave, and the Church of Santa Maria di Bethlehem. Walking through the town you can also see other treasures such as the Campailla Museum, in the name of a Modica doctor who managed to cure syphilis, and the birthplace of the Nobel Prize for Literature Salvatore Quasimodo.
Top excursion: Cava Grande di Cassibile
For trekking lovers, less recommended for a family outing, the Cava Grande di Cassibile is an essential destination. The Cava Grande nature reserve is an excursion where flip-flops are banned because one arrives at the ponds after a long journey through rocky boulders, it develops in the middle of a limestone canyon for 40 minutes.
On arrival, however, what is revealed is wonderful: freshwater lakes worthy of the earthly paradise. Small waterfalls, rocks and trees that protect from the sun are the icing on the cake in the reserve. A show that leaves you breathless.
Ancient Noto gives another splendid trekking path, the canyon of the Carosello quarry, engraved in the limestone that leaves the water fed by perennial springs active from the 1400s. Access to the Carosello da Porta di Santa Margherita, an old door of the fortified city of Noto ancient, following the current you come to a pond full of waterfalls.
Two must-see places for those who love taking a dip in fresh water.
The most beautiful fishing village in Europe: Marzamemi
Marzamemi has a strange effect: this little place so small, so humble and so enchanted … Its birth dates back to around the year one thousand, when the Arabs built the Tonnara here, which for many centuries was the main of the entire Eastern Sicily.
This beautiful Borgo Marinaro, however, as we see it today, dates back to the 1700s when the Villadorata family modified the Tonnara, widening its spaces, building the church of San Francesco di Paola, and the fishermen’s houses.
The beach of San Lorenzo is perhaps the best known: very large and equipped with a large number of equipped facilities, it is ideal for relaxation lovers. The coast is low and sandy and the waters are crystal clear and rich in vegetation make Spinazza beach (located north of the village) a place that absolutely must be visited.
The Cavettone beach is located on the southern slope of Marzamemi. Being a type of sandy beach and bordered by rocky structures, we recommend it for diving and snorkeling lovers.
Vendicari is the most evocative of the whole territory. An oasis in the green where to find unspoiled beaches that follow one another, in one of the most beautiful coastal stretches of the whole of Sicily. The northernmost beach of the oasis is that of Eloro, at the mouth of the Tellaro river, on which stands an ancient Roman villa full of extraordinary mosaics. A little further south is the cove of Cala Mosche, set between two rocky spikes, with many caves to explore.
Another beautiful beach is that of the Tonnara, where it is possible to admire two buildings dating back to the Byzantine period, one of which is intended for tuna fishing.
Ferla and the Pantalica reserve
Yet another beauty, Ferla is Pantalica’s gateway and was recognized in 2005 as a “World Heritage Site” and proclaimed one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. The necropolis of Pantalica is composed of protohistoric places on the island such as the Anaktoron, the palace of the Mycenaean-style prince built from large blocks of stone. In the reserve it is also possible to visit the former Byzantine village of San Micidario and other necropolises that follow the route up to the Calcinara stream.
After this small hike you reach the bottom of the valley where the cool waters of the stream are ready to welcome all its guests. A natural show that blends with the most ancient history of Sicily.
UNESCO does not abandon Sicily, and here is a short distance away another treasure: Palazzolo Acreide, on the Acremonte promontory. To visit the old finger of Akrai, the first colony of the powerful Syracuse from 664 a.c.
Here too, the Baroque style dominates, represented by the mother church dedicated to St. Nicholas which is located in the central square Aldo Moro. The baroque facade contrasts with the simplicity from the inside in tuff but remains valuable for the marble altars with low reliefs finely worked. In the archaeological area you can admire the completely circular Greek theater, the Plateria that connects the two city gates and the spectacular stone quarries where the ancient heroes were honored: the Intagliata and the Intaglietella.
Returning to the hotel after this long day and a walk why not relax in the Jacuzzi on the terrace? A way to pamper yourself and enjoy the sunset before dinner.
The “Greek” Syracuse and the departure
For late departures you can take advantage of the luggage storage service thanks to the reception always open 24 hours a day on all days of the week. Leave your luggage safely and discover the beauty of the city without weights.
For the last day in this wonderful white city you can rent bikes to see Syracuse from the bike path that runs along the romantic Plemmirio protected area starting from the tip of the millstone, the Pillirina. There are two beaches of wild and unspoiled beauty and crystal clear sea.
The last encounter with history, before leaving, is in the Archaeological Park of Syracuse where we can walk among the remains of the Hellenistic and classical age. It is also known as the archaeological park of Neapolis, home of the Greek Theater of Syracuse where classical performances are held between June and July, known throughout the world. To see them ask for information at the reception who will book tickets for the next performance.
Walking through the Altar of Hieron II and along the banks of the river Anapo you can visit the caves of Nymphaeum, the Cordari and the latomie of Neapolis.
What to eat in Syracuse: the typical dishes
In a holiday like this, food cannot be overlooked. Sicily is famous for bringing everyone back to life with a full stomach and a satisfied face. In a land surrounded by the sea, fish-based cuisine is essential, and in Syracuse you can taste tuna in bread crust, to start with the tuna tartare and creamy avocado.
For the first courses we recommend the typical spaghetti with sea urchins and spaghetti alla siracusana. The intense sea flavor accompanies every Sicilian recipe, curls are very popular but difficult to fish and cook. We eat the internal fruit with an intense orange color and a delicate taste.
An ancient custom is to associate honey and fruit compotes with local cheeses, a pleasure for the palate that melts between the sweetness of honey and the savory of cheeses.
Every Sicilian knows what can not miss on the table, the cod. Il Tiranno offers a very interesting variation with extra crispy marro, burrata and tartare by Datterino. Already talking about it grows mouth water.
Syracuse by night: some suggestions for social life
Ortigia is unique for daytime sight and night for music. Walking through the streets you can hear many local musicians who flood the island with many different musical styles, from jazz to pop, melodious sounds that like sirens attract travelers who love live music.
After a walk you need a refreshing drink, good and fresh at the “Marina”, which has always welcomed the thirsty with a frozen glass and quality products. For partygoers who like to dance there is the Negroni Disco Pub, the center of Syracuse’s nightlife.
The Syracusan land is rich in other mysteries to be discovered, such as the wrinkles – of the tiny alleys that lead from the center of Ortigia to the sea – and other courtyards that are decorated for the Infiorata. This is why we are sure that after these days you will want to stay or return with joy in your heart.