Siracusa is one of those places in Sicily that you have to visit. Without visiting would be like missing an essential part of the island. This city has an incredible amount of archaeological sites and some great architectural buildings. It is by far my favorite city in Sicily. The archaeological site, situated in the northwest of the town, is home to a staggering number of well-preserved Greek (and Roman) remains. The main attraction is undoubtedly the Greek theatre that dates back at least until the 5th Century BC. There is also remains of a Roman theatre and the famous “Ear of Dionysius”, a 20m-high, slender pointed arch cut into the rock face that develops inwards for about 65m. There are also the famous Catacombs of San Giovanni. Although not a massive highlight they are worth seeing if you have time. Running for kilometers under the city these catacombs were excavated for the most part between 315 and 360 A.D., and remained in use until the end of the 5th century. Unfortunately, after thousands of years of looting, what survives is only the “bare bones” of the building, stripped of colored plaster, mosaics, stone slabs, and even small objects that were incorporated into the enclosures to distinguish one tomb from another.
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246 Kms from Syracuse
Palermo, the regional capital of Sicily, is one of those cities with its own very distinct, almost tangible atmosphere, a place of mystery where reality often outperforms the traveller’s imagination and preconceived stereotypes. Visiting Palermo is still somewhat of an adventure in a world where so many places have become tourist-friendly to a fault. You won’t find many restaurants with menus translated into 5 different languages, you may have trouble communicating in English in many places, and some parts of the old town center have remained untouched since they were bombed during the war.
53 Kms from Syracuse
Sicily’s second largest city is Catania, and is where a majority of European flights land in to. It lies on the Eastern side of the island along the Ionian coast, sitting in the shadows beneath Mount Etna. In 1669 Catania was covered in lava from Mount Etna and then, just 24 years later in 1693 an earthquake shook the town down to its foundations. Most of the old town was rebuilt, and as ever resourceful was rebuilt using lava, therefore Catania is describe as being a rather dull and grey city. There are a couple of nice piazzas and the Duomo is worth a visit. The atmosphere is what really brings you to the city, the bustling fish markets, the people and the smells. There is a place in the city that is also renowned for horse meat if that’s your thing! Or if not give it a try..although the signature dish of Catania is Pasta alla Norma, that consists of fried chunks of aubergine, a rich tomato sauce and salty ricotta cheese….. Buon appetito!
157 Kms from Syracuse
We went back to the hotel after a short visit in Valletta, where we didn’t find what we were looking for. And it was time for some relaxation after hours of driving and walking around in the heat. We ended the day with an hour on deck chair by the hotel pool before we took a few drinks before dinner at Batubulan Sunset Grill, a good restaurant by the sea, where we got a great view over the beautiful sunset.