We loved Ortigia, the historic center of Siracusa, so much that we never explored beyond the island. Since today was our last day here, we decided to leave beautiful Ortigia and visit some of the sights in Siracusa.
The day started just as I had planned, but by early afternoon my plans started to fall apart.
Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Lacrime
Before I knew what it was, I noticed the striking modern dome of the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Lacrime from our apartment terrace. By the way, on a clear day you can see Mt. Etna from our terrace, and the day I took this picture was the only day it was visible.
After reading about the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Lacrime, I thought it would be an interesting visit.
The building was farther away than it looked, but we had an interesting walk through Siracusa.
We passed a board of flyers similar to one we had seen on our walk from the train station. Being tuned in to the upcoming election, we thought they were campaign flyers. On our tour with Pelin we learned that they are obituary notices.
Erected to honor the the tearing of a plastic effigy of the Virgin Mary in 1953, the dramatic building sits in a peaceful park in the heart of Siracusa.
Priests were conducting a mass at the front of the huge sanctuary when we entered, so we didn’t feel comfortable searching for the mementos that were housed there. Mementos I had read about included a handkerchief wet with tears and crystallized tears. Even though we didn’t get to explore the sanctuary, we were able to see its beautiful interior.
The Greek Theater
Since we had seen the Greek Theater in Taormina, we thought it would be fun to see the one in Siracusa, the only one in Italy larger than Taormina’s. This is the part of the day that didn’t go according to plan.
Although the online information said the Greek Theater was open until 8 PM, when we arrived at 12:45, the guard told us that starting in November it closed at 12:30 on Sundays. Although I asked very nicely if we could just pop in for a quick look, the guard was friendly but firm in denying my request.
We walked around the fence, hoping to get a glimpse of the ancient site. Sadly, the only things we could see from outside the fence were some ancient stones and a few cave entrances just visible across a field.
Back to Ortigia
Since our plan for the afternoon fell apart, we decided to explore more of Ortigia. First stop was lunch at an outdoor cafe on the Piazza Archimede, the second most important square in Ortigia after the Piazza Duomo. The beautiful Fountain of Diana, one of the symbols of Siracusa, is at the center of the lovely piazza.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring new parts of Ortigia.
We discovered a fun area along the shore. It was a beautiful day and people were sitting at outside cafes enjoying the sun and the sea.
But there weren’t a lot of people. The season here is coming to an end, and some of the shops and restaurants are beginning to close. This was really the first day that we noticed a drop in activity.
We ended our Ortigia stroll with a visit to the Piazza Duomo, one of the largest and most impressive Italian squares. The violin player on the side of the Duomo was icing on the Baroque architectural cake.
We returned to Casa Trimarchi, our favorite restaurant here, for the last dinner of our stay in beautiful Ortigia. Paul loved his dinner here so much that he had to have it one more time before we left.
It was a slower night, so we had a chance to visit with Gabriella, one of the owners, and learn more about the family business. The Trimarchi family traces its roots back to the fifteenth century. They grow organic produce, durum wheat, grapes and olives and produce wine, olive oil and handmade preserves. In 2019 they launched their restaurant. The “aunties” use the raw materials from their farm to cook traditional Sicilian dishes.
I had an amazing caponata made from their organic vegetables.
After dinner we followed the sound of live music and found a pretty good band playing American rock music in a little street. I’m not sure if the crowd was Italian or American, but everyone knew the words and sang along with the band. It was a nice ending to a great evening.
We love Ortigia and definitely plan to return.