Ortigia

Ortygia and water. The Fountain of Arethusa

The origin of Ortygia is closely linked to the worship of water. In fact, the island rises on the Porto Grande of Syracuse and is characterised by the presence of the Fountain of Arethusa.
This curious source of freshwater has the unique aspect of pouring out onto the shore. The beauty of this stretch of water has impressed the imagination of poets and writers for millennia.
Fonte Aretusea
According to Greek mythology the origin of the spring is linked to the fate of the nymph Arethusa, known throughout Greece for her beauty.
The nymph was very good at running and swimming. One day, after a long run in the woods, Arethusa decided to cool off in a beautiful stream surrounded by large plants: the river Alpheus. At the end of her bath, the girl began running again, when a voice asked her to stop. It was Alpheus, the river god, who had fallen in love with her. Arethusa was terrified and called to Artemis for help. So the goddess wrapped her in a cloud and blew hard towards Sicily; as she approached Ortygia, she transformed Arethusa into a freshwater spring.
Alpheus was completely in love with the nymph and asked his father, Oceanus, for help. Convinced of his son’s sincere love, Oceanus opened the waters of the Ionian Sea and allowed Alpheus to cross Sicily and reach his love.
This is why the water from the spring tastes salty, due to the infiltration of the sea. The stretch of water also has another unique aspect: the presence of many wild papyrus plants. Freshwater fish and mallard ducks also swim in the shallow waters of the spring.

Giudecca and fire. Cooking and the Jewish religion

Pantalica and water: the Myth of the Anapo River

Pantalica and fire. The Metal Age: objects from the culture of Pantalica

Pantalica and air. The skies of Pantalica: from hawks to bats

Ortygia and the earth element. Piazza del Duomo: discovering the origins.

Neapolis and fire. The Altar of Hieron and the sacrificial fire

Ortygia and fire. Archimedes and the invention of the burning mirrors

Ortygia and the air element. The Gods of Olympus and the Temple of Apollo.

Nature in Neapolis

Neapolis and the air element. The Ear of Dionysius

Pantalica and the earth element

Neapolis and the earth element. Places of performance: the Greek theatre and the Roman amphitheatre

The fountain of Diana in Piazza Archimede

A journey to Pantalica

Neapolis and the water element. The Nymphaeum

Giudecca and air. The Basilica of San Giovannello

Ortygia

Giudecca and the earth element. Between gardens and artisan workshops

The Cathedral of Syracuse

The Neapolis

Giudecca

The naumachiae: naval battles at the theatre

The interior of the Cathedral of Syracuse

Ortygia and water. The Fountain of Arethusa

Giudecca and water. The ritual baths: the Casa Bianca mikveh