30 Days on the Road in Italy…Day 24: Siracusa and Ortigia

Come with us as we explore Italy and check out properties for Gira! Italian Vacation Rentals.

We aren’t sure what to expect, driving through Siracusa. This classic city is rich in Greek history and was one of the great Mediterranean powers in ancient times. Archimedes was born here, and it provided inspiration to poets and writers, from Cicero to D’Annunzio. Now it’s a cultural center that includes a popular theater festival dedicated to ancient drama.

Ortigia, Siracusa, Sicily, ItalyOur destination is Ortigia, a seaside community that is part of this impressive city. We cross the bridge into Ortigia and it’s a bright sunny November day. In Sicily, it’s still warm and today is a brief and refreshing return to summer. The weather stays beautiful throughout our short twenty four hours here.

We check into our B&B, which is only half a block from the seaside. We go separate ways to explore, and I take a few photos of the walk along the coastal road, which overlooks the rocky sea below. I see families with fishing rods and young people walking hand in hand along the road. There is a light breeze and no one seems to be going anywhere. . .just taking in the warm sunshine and looking at the tranquil sea.

Ortigia Siracuse Sicily ItalyThere is a rocky refuge in the sea, just ahead of me, and there’s a walkway to reach it from the sidewalk. A few of Ortigia’s guests are spending a lazy afternoon there, reading, sunning and enjoying quiet conversation. We meet there and rest as best we can atop the rugged formation. Sunset is coming, but seems to be holding out as long as it can wait. We’re in no hurry either.

That evening, we discover that the restaurant recommended by the B&B owner has changed hands, and continue to stroll the cool and comfortable town streets in search of another. We land in a small family-run osteria that turns out to be a delight.

The city is beautifully illuminated as the full moon moves up the sky. Without a travel guide, we walk the baroque streets and arrive at Piazza Duomo. We walk quietly into the duomo past the sign that begs we not come in as tourists. There is a service going on, and we are there only a short time.

When we return to the piazza, we find that we are nearly alone, joined in this massive marble plaza only by a small boy across the way who is enjoying a nighttime bike ride. We wander to the end of the piazza and find that the Church of Santa Lucia alla Badia is open. There is a small group of quiet and respectful visitors. The interior walls are a vivid white. There is the hypnotic sound of Gregorian Chant. And there, before us at the altar is the incredible La Sepoltura di Santa Lucia (The Burial of St. Lucy) by Carvaggio. It becomes a transcendent moment as the medieval music washes over us and we study the forms in this dark yet uplifting masterpiece.

Sicily is turning into a much greater joy than we could have imagined.

Tomorrow: Ispica

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