Spend some time in Syracuse, soaking up history and atmosphere
As we covered in part 1 of our Sicily road trip, Taormina is a town full of history with a wonderful monastery accommodation option. From here, we travel south to the stunning coastal city of Syracuse. The fourth largest city on the island, Syracuse has a fascinating history and a lively atmosphere.
Syracuse – the jewel of Sicily
Words simply cannot do Syracuse justice. From its perfect location to its fascinating archaeological sites. From its exceptionally preserved architecture to the mainland-connected island of Ortigia. Syracuse is one of the most underrated destinations in Italy, often not getting the praise it deserves next to the likes of Rome, Florence and Venice.
The island of Ortigia, jutting out into the ocean and connected to the mainland by two bridges, is a bustling, lively place. Here you will find the Duomo (main cathedral) of Syracuse, as well as a castle dating back centuries and an ancient temple. On top of these attractions, the street markets are a sight to behold – fruit, vegetables, bread, cheese, meat and seafood – all fresh and all delicious! Take in a truly authentic part of Italy winding your way past the stalls.
Where to Stay in Syracuse?
For accommodation, why not stay in a monastery guest house on Ortigia, right in the beating heart of Syracuse! Albergo Domus Mariae (SIS101) and Domus Mariae Benessere (SIS110) are both perfectly located on the island, with cathedrals, museums, palaces and theatres all within a 10 minute walk. Not to mention restaurants, cafes and gelaterias are also a short walk away!
For an option on the mainland, Casa del Pellegrino (SIC119) sits opposite the Santuario della Madonna delle Lacrime. The sanctuary is a pilgrimage site, housing a picture of the Virgin Mary which is said to have shed human tears in 1953. The image is held in the main altar, with a vial of the tears also on display, housed in a reliquary.
The sanctuary itself is a striking modern structure, taking 28 years to complete the 100 metre high tower. It was consecrated in 1994 by Pope John Paul II, who then gave it the status of a minor basilica in 2002.
Casa del Pellegrino (SIC119) is a great option for those wanting to visit the sanctuary, as well as anyone wanting accommodation closer to some of the stunning archaeological sites Syracuse has to offer.
The Paolo Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum is one street away from Casa del Pellegrino (SIC119) and is one of the most important archaeological museums in Europe. Pieces from prehistory up to Roman and Greek times are on display, offering a fascinating look into the history of the area, dating back thousands of years.