Italy
Siracusa

Here you’ll find travel reports about Siracusa. Discover travel destinations in Italy of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

30 travelers at this place:

  • Day4

    On arrival at the ferry terminal at San Giovanni, there was no need to disembark - the train rolled on to the ferry in two halves - one of the few places where this actually happens. It was exciting to watch, with the train rolling on, then our half reversing off and then travelling back on to lie parallel with the front half. We were able to leave our belongings and go up on deck as we crossed the Straits of Messina to one of Sicily’s main cities, Messina. It was good to get some fresh air and a walk about. The crossing only took about 30 minutes, just like going to Bute, although Messina had a bit more life about it and a good deal more sunshine than Rothesay usually does.

    The train reunited, we journeyed down Sicily’s east coast, passing the lovely Taormina and the shadow of Mount Etna, the most active volcano in the world, apparently - I think I’ll just stay on the train. Olive and orange trees and giant cacti lined the tracks here. As we pulled into our final destination I felt, like that Rodgers and Hart musical, one of ‘The Boys from Syracuse’.
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  • Day4

    Sleeper to Sicily

    June 7 in Italy

    At 20.10 last night, I boarded the overnight sleeper train from Milan all the way to Sicily. A marathon journey of some 19 hours 38 minutes. And if I was expecting a luxurious travel experience, I was about to be sorely disappointed - the Venice Simplon Orient Express this was not. The train resembled the kind of graffiti-decorated transport that you might expect of Italian railways on a short local journey from Roma Termini to San Pietro. My 2 berth 1st class compartment had certainly seen better days with little by way of creature comforts. Unlike the meticulously uniformed crews of the Polish and Russian trains last year, with their peaked caps and efficient welcome, this train attendant resembled an overweight and unkempt Reg Varney from On the Buses. With an ill-fitting uniform and grubby shirt which was too tight to fasten, he sported at least two days of grey stubble.

    And if I had expected fine dining in the restaurant car washed down with a glass of Valpolicella, again it was not to be. Not a buffet car nor even a trolley appeared to exist - and on a journey which was to take the best part of 20 hours. How glad was I that I had had that McD’s earlier when accessing their free WiFi. All that was left for dinner was a half eaten packet of crisps, a bag of Mint Imperials and a bottle of water so warm I could have easily have made a cup of tea with it - if only I had a tea bag.

    My travelling roomie embarked at Genoa. He was a tall, bearded Italian who spent some time rearranging our tiny space, with a great deal of moving luggage, ladders, toiletries etc, while parading around (if one can parade in such a tiny space) in his briefs - why have Italian men never heard of boxers?

    Our Trenitalia ‘Welcome Pack’ included amongst other bits and pieces, an eye mask. After being dazzled by the evening lights outside our blind-less window, I decided to make use of them to get to sleep. The underside of the bunk above me was covered in a full-length mirror, and when I awoke I was startled to see who looked like Lady Isobel Barnett from ‘What’s My Line’ staring down at me.

    In spite of this, my lower berth was remarkably comfortable and I got a reasonable night’s sleep. After devouring the last of the Mint Imperials for breakfast, I was amazed to discover by accident that refreshments were available from a cubbyhole at the end of the compartment. A long-life apricot croissant and an espresso later and I began to feel human again. Even Reg Varney came up trumps in converting our two berths into a relatively pleasant sitting area with a few clicks and pulls of levers.

    My Italian friend disembarked at Rosarno in Calabria at 10.00, and I had the compartment to myself for the remaining leg of the trip. The train hugged the coast all the way with terrific views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. This wasn’t so bad after all.
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  • Day420

    Syracuse/Ortigia

    June 9 in Italy

    Lovely anchorage in Syracuse bay looking at the old town of Ortigia, far enough away for the music to be pleasant background only, but close enough to get there by dinghy. Ortigia is an island accessed via 2bridges from the mainland. It has lots of old buildings but also lots of open piazzas and we spent a great day wandering around the streets, always on the shaded side! Temperature 30c between 12and 5.Read more

  • Day421

    Syracuse ruins

    June 10 in Italy

    We visited the ruins of the Greek theatre, the Roman amphitheatre, the Ear of Dionysus and quarry, Sanctuary of Madonna and a museum dedicated to the works of Archimedes and Leonardo. The Greek Theatre is from 5th century BC and could accommodate 15,000. It is used during May and June for the production of Greek tragedies when they cover a lot of it with wood so it can used without destroying the ruins. Amphitheater the arena is one of largest of its kind built 2nd century AD unlike Greek one this was for entertainment not elevation of men’s minds. The Ear is part of the quarries that served as prisons for defeated Athenians but acoustics are incredible you can whisper at back of the Ear and its easily heard outside. The Sanctuary is a very modern church built in the 1960s of concrete, it is a ribbed cone of 2levels, the crypt which looks to me much like a church with the usual little chapels or are they called naves around the edge, and the main church very modern and open we had to scurry out quickly as a service started as we were wandering round. In the photos you will see one of very pretty pasta options and a plate of fruit. Anyone one recognise the blackberry looking things, they were lovely but weren’t blackberrys.Read more

  • Day10

    Syracuse, Sicily

    July 11 in Italy

    Another early start for a 2 hour train trip to Rome airport. Beautiful scenery on the way lots of grass being cut for hay & acres of sunflowers. Met John & girls, now all in our appt in Syracuse. Went out to have a swim on the waterfront, so lovely and warmI could have stayed in forever. Supermercato to stock up, home for shower & snack. Just back from waterfront after a drink and light dinner. So nice, lovely temperature.Read more

  • Day11

    Noto

    July 12 in Italy

    No early start but a pleasant drive to a small town 32 km west of Syracuse at the foot of the Iblean Mountains, a
    Lovely drive through orange orchards and olive groves. A lovely town with so much history. Beautiful churches and wonderful architecture. Thank goodness John was driving, typical Italian, no plan, total chaos but totally organised!!! FOR THEM!! Back to appt. in heat of afternoon, then a swim in beautiful clear water. The girls and I had Fish Therapy, different to say the least!! Dinner at 8pm (a lovely little restaurant in a small street/alley, superb food. Then a glass of wine (John and I) and discussion with the girls on world politics, interesting but time for bed!!!!!!!!!Read more

  • Day12

    Syracuse

    July 13 in Italy

    The girls and I went to the Greek Theatre today whilst John headed to Catania to pick up Sarah who was flying in from Rome. We got there just on opening so no one around, ticket salesman took a liking to us and only charged 10 euro instead of 10 euro each. Liked him!!!!! Greek amphitheatre is huge and the caves equally so. As we were leaving the buses were arriving full of tourists, good choice to go early. We went home then wandered down to the waterfront and swam and sunbathed, so lovely and warm. Usual story, lunch then siesta. Just arrived back after a lovely dinner. Five of us now and ready for our next venture into the mountains.Read more

  • Day244

    Syracuse

    February 25, 2017 in Italy

    Several people had recommended that we visit Syracuse, a coastal town with Greek, Roman, medieval and Baroque influences. We arrived before midday at the campervan stopover in the heart of town. It was €22 for 24 hours which was more than we'd usually pay but because the main sights were so close we didn't need to leave Poppy for too long, so we thought it was worth it.

    Grabbing some lunch before heading out, we looked through the window and saw a German couple and their dog who had stayed at the Giardini Naxos site with us! We chatted in broken English and German awhile before donning our sunhats and strolling downhill through the straight grid pattern streets to the old town, situated on a small island.

    Across the stone bridge, we saw small wooden fishing boats moored in the harbour, their blues, reds, whites and greens shining proudly in the bright light. There was a gathering of market stalls in front of the railed off remains of the Temple of Apollo. Huge cylindrical pillars now lay horizontally but we got a striking impression of past grandeur.

    Vicky needed new sunglasses and there was a good range over several stalls. However, for anyone who knows Vicky, you know how picky she can be and for all but one of the pairs proffered by the stallholders 'mi non piace la' (I don't lile that) was one of the phrases they received back. Eventually, a good enough pair was found and we moved on to the food market. Here we got cheese, artichokes, garlic, some red mullet and prawns from an adjacent fish shop and one of the large Amalfi lemons we'd seen growing. The stallholder, as others had done before him, checked we knew how to prepare it (which we didn't). Apparently it is best eaten thinly sliced, pith and all, with salt in salad. When we tried it, it had the consistency of an unripe avocado but tasted very nice.

    Moving away from the market, we treated ourselves to some yummy icecream and sat in the sunshine in the Baroque Piazza del Duomo, on the steps of the cathedral to eat it. Many of the market stall holders had been African and a seller now appraoched us, trying to persuade us to buy some African wooden items. We said no thank you and he sat beside us, beating his drum and enquiring where we were from. After a while he got up to leave but wanted to 'give' us each 'presents' of carved soap stone frogs. We'd both been caught out by 'presents' before and politely declined. When pressed further, we politely declined more forcefully and were left alone.

    On the way back we dropped in to the Santuario della Madonna dello Lacrime, a modern church constructed out of concrete to symbolise a teardop. We could see the building from our pitch and whilst it wasn't the most beautiful of structures it was certainly interesting, with a ground floor cript displaying the life of Christ in a journey of mosaics and paintings in alcoves that radiated around the circumference of the building. Upstairs, the huge basilica was basically an empty space under the conical spire of the teardrop structure.

    Back at the van, our pitch was grassy and the area surrounded by the yellow wildflowers that seem to coat the ground out here, so we sat out in the late sunshine with Poppy and caught up with family back in the UK. The next morning, we paid up did what we needed to with the van. The €22 definitely went towards the location because the services were in a poor state, with the water hose duct taped together and leaking through the join!
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  • Day366

    Day 367: Down to Syracuse

    February 16 in Italy

    Up and out early again, farewelling Messina, we hardly knew ye. Walked to the train station where we managed to catch the surprisingly-infrequent train southwards to Catania, the main city on the eastern coast of Sicily. This took a couple of hours and we had great views of Mount Etna basically the whole way, since it dominates this side of the island.

    Found the airport bus here in Catania and headed out to the car hire place here, where we picked up our car for the next 10 days or so. We'd arrived about 45 minutes early so the guy refused to help me until it was the "right" time which didn't impress me, and then I didn't listen super carefully while he said he'd give us a Mercedes.

    When we eventually got out into the parking lot, the Mercedes was a large minivan with 12 seats!! Supposedly it was the only auto transmission car they had at the moment, but I made my feelings known to a nice lady who seemed to be a manager of sorts and she managed to find me a Ford Fiesta that had just been returned. It hadn't been cleaned, but after all the waiting around I wasn't that bothered! It's also a pretty crap car - no Bluetooth, reversing beeps or screen, but it's at least got USB so that'll do. But it's got an auto gearbox and nothing else really matters.

    So we finally drove off from Catania airport, heading southwards to Syracuse. It was mostly freeway and fairly unexciting, though the countryside is quite rugged and covered in citrus trees, reminding us both of Andalusia - a nice flashback considering where we were 12 months ago.

    More driving in the shadow of Etna before we eventually arrived in Syracuse. It's quite a decent sized town - not a city, but still fairly populous. I didn't realise, but Sicily is actually home to 5 million people, making it the fourth most populous region in Italy (behind Latium/Rome, Lombardy/Milan, Campania/Naples). Syracuse is an ancient Greek city around 2500 years old, and I'm looking forward to exploring it tomorrow.

    But that'll have to wait, because after another 5 hours of travelling today neither of us felt like going out to explore! We settled for staying home and working on various things, while Shandos drew the short straw and went to the supermarket for supplies.
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  • Day367

    Day 368: Exploring Syracuse

    February 17 in Italy

    Full day of exploration today! We headed out fairly early and made our way down to the waterfront area of the city. Syracuse is almost on the south-eastern tip of Sicily, and the oldest part is actually an island known as Ortygia, just slightly off the mainland. It was founded by Greek colonists around 500 BC and was one of their most important cities. Home to Plato and Archimedes, we couldn't wait to get started.

    We walked over to Ortygia and had a look around - lots of narrow streets, old churches and the like. A couple of Greek ruins here and there, including a nice temple, but mostly just Italian stuff. There was a devastating earthquake that hit Sicily in 1693, which resulted in a lot of the buildings being rebuilt in contemporary baroque style, so we enjoyed looking at that too.

    Checked out the fortress on the waterfront, but that was a bit of a let down as large areas were closed off for restoration. Acted on a good tip from a friend for lunch to visit a particular panini shop in a market, but realised the queue was going to be several hours so bailed and headed to the place next door.

    By the time we'd been seated, ordered, eaten our paninis, paid the bill and got ready to depart, we would've been maybe halfway through the original queue. It was a good idea, but oh well.

    Departing Ortygia, we headed back up through the city to the archaeological park. Both the Greeks and Romans left a strong legacy here of buildings, and these are now slowly coming to light. There's a large amphitheatre from Roman times, very reminiscent of the Colosseum in Rome (though I suppose they all are in a way!), a couple of temples, and a huge Greek theatre as well which was quite magnificent. The Greeks had a way of building theatres in spectacular locations because the crowd's panoramic view was as much of the performance as the actors, so this had great views down across town and to the sea as well.

    Pretty great condition too, and only a couple of groups so if you dodged them it was mostly to ourselves. Fairly exhausted and by now late in the day, we headed back home. Stayed in again, with more home-cooked pasta.
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Siracusa

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