Syracuse

 

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Syracuse.

Syracuse was founded by "Archia" of the Corinthians in 734 BC, however, several objects found there date back to the prehistoric age suggesting that a previous settlement existed before the Corinthians arrived. The oldest part of the city is actually a small island named ‘Ortigia’ and the city then grew on the land opposite. Syracuse has a number of archaeological treasures not least the Greek Theatre.

This is a wonderful venue which can be most appreciated on evenings towards the end of May when there are re-enactments of ancient Greek Theatre; the ambience is such that an audience might almost be taken back in time. Other fine examples of Greek architecture worth visiting in Syracuse are the "Temples of Apollo", "Atena" and "Giove Olimpio" and the "Ara di Gerone".

There are also examples of buildings from the Roman period such as the amphitheatre, the gymnasium, catacombs and a number of basilicas. It is not surprising that traces of Byzantine, Norman and Spanish culture can also be detected in the architecture of this city. In the area surrounding Syracuse there are also more interesting destinations such as "Noto" a small town with a number of Baroque churches, palaces and a prehistoric settlement named "Netum". For nature lovers there is an interesting nature reserve named "Vendicari" and also worth a visit is "Cavagrande", which was formed due to erosion by the river "Cassibile"; it consists of a large gorge followed by several large rock pools surrounded by rugged cliffs.

Other places not to be missed are: "Pantalica" which has the largest necropolis in Europe built into its caves; "Castello di Eurialo" which is an amazing military fortress built by the tyrant "Dionigi" in the fifth century BC with immense numbers of underground tunnels and trenches built to protect the castle; "Portopalo" is a little fisherman's village at the southern tip of Sicily and just opposite the little island of "Capo Passero" where a fortress was built for the specific purpose of keeping a look out for the Saracens. As is usual when visiting anywhere in Sicily don't forget to try out this area's local Trattorias as its typical cuisine is based on freshly caught fish and other delicacies produced in the region.

A lucky visitor might even by chance make their way into the latest fiction destined for Italian television as many programmes are filmed here such as the famous commissar "Montalbano"!!