A highly recommended and easy detour either for the day, or to or from from Taormina is the nearby city of Siracusa, 2 hour south (by train direct, by bus a quick change in Catania) and a must visit for anyone on a tour of Sicily.
Famed for it’s ancient Greek monument, the city, which dates back 2700 years, has a vast complex of Greek ruins, including the famed amphlitheatre which plays host to ancient Greek Tragedy plays in the summer months, as well as a spectacular cave complex called, Oriecchio di Dionisio (The Ear of Dionysius). Ledgend states that Dionysius used the cave as a prison for political dissidents, and by means of the perfect acoustics eavesdropped on the plans and secrets of his captives.
It’s adviseable to hire a guide here as there is no information for the tourist whilst wandering the sites – so either you eaves drop on others who have been sensible enough to take a guide, or you need to have a very good gras of Greek history and a vivid imagiation!
However the highlight of visiting Siracusa is the joy of wandering around Ortygia – a small headland which is connected to Siracusa by two bridges – with its maze of charming streets, where neighbours can almost stretch out and embrace their neighbours on an opposite balcony, where clothes flutter above to dry, a multitude of restaurants serving delicious Sicilian and seafood fare and a welcome stop for a gelato or granita await. All streets ultimately lead to Piazza del Duomo – with its beautiful cathederal a Baroque facade which hides inside a relatively modest church, the foundations of which date back to 5th Century BC, when it was built as a temple to the Godess Athena.
Wander the seafront, where, in summer, you can enjoy swimming off the rocks from makeshift wooden platforms – the sea is crystalline and the locals are always ready for a chat.
RECOMMENDED FOR APERITIVO: Stop by for aperitivo at Tinkite – an excellent bar serving really good food with aperitivo (3 Euro a plate) and a very nice easy going crowd. Get early to grab the deckchairs!
Via Mario Minniti 3
RECOMMENDED FOR DINNER: Taverna Sveva for excellent fresh fish and seafood pasta and incredibly jolly staff!
Piazza Federico Sveva 1
COMING UP: 9th – 16th July: Ortigia Film Festival – watch a host of Italian and International Films under the stars at this cosy and unpretentious film festival