In ancient Giudecca, the earth element is held within its very streets.
As you tread the “earth” and walk through the narrow alleys of this district, you can discover its secrets and learn about its stories from the past.
These are stories about its ancient inhabitants: the Jews, who were mainly artisans and merchants.
While Piazza del Duomo was the centre of Ortygia, home to the most elegant and important buildings, Giudecca was a district dedicated to trade, and its streets were lined with all kinds of shops.
There were the blacksmiths' , workshops, silk sellers and fabric dyers, and the famous “cannamela” workshop. Cannamela was sugar cane, processed by the “sugar master”. Giudecca also had a fish market, butcher’s shop and ovens for baking bread.
These lively and well-stocked markets were also an attraction for the Syracusans.
The streets and commercial squares of Giudecca were called “platee”. The Jewish houses were in fact both homes and workshops.
They had a ground floor open to the street that was used as a shop; in the back were adjoining courtyards with gardens and warehouses, while the upper floor was used as a private dwelling.
The garden, or “farmyard”, was used for agricultural activities, with a well and a vegetable garden where aromatic plants and vegetables were grown.