Syracuse in a weekend: an essential itinerary

14 May 2024

After exploring Palermo, let’s head to eastern Sicily: to discover Syracuse in a weekend: a city shrouded in history and legend, especially of the Greek variety. Founded by Corinthian colonists in the year 734 B.C., Syracuse still retains the indelible traces of that magnificent era. As a matter of fact, it is considered by UNESCO as a Eorld Heritage Site. We want to suggest you a mini itinerary to be carried out over a weekend.

If you’re planning your trip to Sicily, you absolutely cannot miss this beautiful city, defined by Cicero as “the most beautiful city of Magna Graecia.” Pack your bags and let’s go!

Day 1 – Syracuse greek’s traces

Syracuse, like many other Sicilian cities, played a fundamental role in Magna Graecia. For this reason, here you can find several monuments that harken back to the Hellenic past. The firs is the Temple of Apollo. With its remains immediately transporting you to a bygone era, the Apollonion is the oldest Doric temple in the Western Greek world. Another temple not to be missed is the one dedicated to Artemis, also known as the Ionic Temple or Artemision: its origin is uncertain, but it is believed to have been built in honor of the goddess of hunting.

The last stop I would like to recommend for your first day in Syracuse is the Archaeological Park of Neapolis, which contains historical artifacts ranging from the Greek to the Roman era. Among the most important is certainly the magnificent Greek Theater, almost entirely carved into the rock. Don’t also miss the Ear of Dionysius, iconic in Syracuse: a cave that, according to legend, was used as a cell for prisoners. Due to its particular architectural shape (which Caravaggio defined as an “ear”), it is believed that the tyrant Dionysius used it to listen to the conversations of the prisoners.

To summarize:

  • Temple of Apollo
  • Temple Artemis
  • Neapolis Archeological Park
  • Greek Theatre
  • Ear of Dionysius

Day 2 – Barocco & Rococò in Ortigia

Ortigia is a small piece of land surrounded by the sea, where the oldest part of Syracuse stand and it is considered as the actual historic center of the Sicilian city. In addition to bearing the signs of Magna Graecia, on the island you can find refined examples of Sicilian Baroque and Rococo.

One of the first things to absolutely visit is Piazza Duomo, where you can find the Church of Santa Lucia della Baida. In here, you can also admire an authentic painting by Caravaggio: the Burial of Saint Lucy, oil on canvas. Looking around in Piazza Duomo, you cannot fail to notice the splendid Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary: the most important church in the city and well protected by UNESCO. Externally, it is mostly in Baroque and Rococo style, while inside… well, let yourself be surprised!

If you keep wandering in Ortigia, the imposing Maniace Castle also presents itself, commissioned by the Byzantine commander of the same name to defend the port of Ortigia, however, the structure as it appears today is the work of Frederick II of Swabia.

To summarize:

  • Piazza Duomo
  • Church of Santa Lucia
  • Cathedral of the Nativity of Mary SS
  • Maniace Castle

Have we caught your attention? Follow our itinerary and share your experience with us by tagging us on Instagram. If you’re not satisfied and would like to know the city even better, click here and contact our Tour Operator, Sicily Travelling, to receive tailor made itineraries and valuable insider tips. If you’ve already been to Syracuse, tell us about your experience in the comments!