Sicily With La RosaWorks: Sophisticated Siracusa
On the eastern coast of the island, Siracusa is one of Sicily’s most popular destinations. Easily reached from Catania’s international airport (the largest in Sicily), the city known in English as Syracuse is a highlight of any itinerary, encompassing every aspect of Sicily’s appeal in a single location.
Though the site of Siracusa’s famous Neapolis Archaeological Park of ancient ruins is found in what is considered the modern city on the outskirts of the central business district, the small island of Ortigia (Ortygia in English) is the main focus for visitors seeking to live their Sicilian dreams of charming pedestrian streets lined with glorious Baroque buildings complemented by a classic Mediterranean seafront promenade. Almost all of Siracusa’s most important museums are found on Ortigia, including the excellent Leonardo and Archimedes Museum, which cleverly links two of the world’s most prolific geniuses together despite them having lived centuries apart. Toward the southern tip of Ortigia is Cathedral Square, a picturesque plaza that is the focal point of the island’s sights, which include several small museums in the immediate vicinity as well as the cathedral itself, built upon the foundations of an ancient Greek temple whose Doric columns are integrated into the building’s walls. Around the corner is the Galleria Civica Montevergini, currently showing an exhibition about ancient Egypt where restoration work on mummies can be observed through the glass wall of the laboratory functioning on the premises. Further north is the former Palace of Justice, a splendid building now serving as an exhibition space for contemporary art. North again from the cathedral is Piazza Archimede, home to the impressive Fountain of Diana that signals the start of Corso Matteotti, Ortigia’s main commercial street.
In the evening, when the open-air cafés, bars, and restaurants are bustling with patrons, another Sicilian tradition comes alive in the form of puppets. Puppetry has been practiced in Sicily for centuries and remains very popular among locals looking for lighthearted entertainment. Far from being a juvenile activity, Sicilian puppet shows relate legends of Sicilian history to the adoring public, who cheer and applaud as if watching live theatre. Which, in a way, it is, since the very dedicated and talented puppeteers behind the scenes are the ones to be credited for the the show. In Siracusa, the historic theatre operated for generations by the Vaccaro Mauceri family is the premier venue for enjoying the art of puppetry. Siracusa has its own unique style of puppets, which the Vaccaro Mauceri family create in their workshop across the street from the theatre. The dialogue is only in Italian, but the visuals are enough for non-Italian speakers to follow the storyline.
As for Siracusa accommodation, the stylish Hotel Gutkowski offers casual chic accommodation on the island of Ortigia, the locus of the city’s most prominent Baroque attractions. Embracing the current trend for casual luxury at reasonable prices, Hotel Gutkowski‘s successful formula has seen it expand to occupy a second building along the scenic waterfront promenade on the eastern side of the island. Rooms range in size from cosy doubles to spacious suites with French doors and sea views.
The sights of Siracusa and all of Sicily can be enjoyed in the company of an expert guide provided by La RosaWorks, a tour operator specialising in connecting authentic Sicily to travellers visiting the island. La RosaWorks‘ insightful personalised tours do much to enhance the visitor experience with insider knowledge and connections to open doors to places not found in the guidebooks. Daytrips to visit the wineries on the slopes of Mount Etna, the UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site of Pantalica, or the Baroque splendour of Noto are all easily arranged, as is any other customised theme to match the interest of the client.