The senses tell of the island of Ortigia

Ortigia and the smell of the sea

A place like Ortygia, a strip of land surrounded by water, can only be associated with the smell of the sea.
An aroma of freshness intoxicates the nose of those who come to this land, mixed with the odours of salt, seaweed and fish.
Essences that evoke strong feelings and abstract ideas of travel, research, summer, air and the experience of the past.

The symposium: music, songs and dances

In memory of the glorious Greek polis, let’s immerse ourselves in the atmosphere of the symposium, during which young “ethereal” women were invited to dance and play the aulos, a flute-like wind instrument.
Music played a very important role in the symposium.
In addition to the aulos there was often the lyre and, more rarely, the crotalum and small drums, as shown by numerous vase depictions.
Musicians were not the only ones who sang, but were accompanied by the guests themselves, who took turns performing.
Those who could not play, on the other hand, emphasised the rhythm of the singing by marking time with sprigs of laurel or myrtle.

Wine and “appetizers” during the symposium

During the symposium, unlike at the banquet, wine was drunk in abundance accompanied by tastings of typical Greek food: cheese, olives, dried or exotic fruits and salty or spicy appetizers.
Young cup bearers mixed wine and water in large jars, often outside the symposium rooms, and put the liquid inside special wine jugs called oinochoe.

The “feathery” papyrus plants

Among the waters of the Arethusa spring, you can spot the papyrus plant (Cyperus papyrus): an aquatic plant imported from Egypt.

zoom piante di papiro
Le "piumose" piante di papiro

Papyrus plants are formed of tall, stiff stalks, whose stem appears very hard and woody to the touch.
Inflorescences with a radius from 10 to 30 centimetres stick out from the stems, carrying straw-coloured spikes.
Passing your hand over the dense plant, these numerous threadlike branches appear soft and feathery.
The Syracusan papyrus belongs to one of the many species of “classical” papyrus, the most famous of which was the Egyptian type, long since disappeared from the Nile valley.

Where seas and civilisations meet

The Senatorial Palace

The Roman Amphitheatre

The Dionysian Walls: a masterpiece of Greek engineering

The Jews, a wandering people

The Venationes

The Gladiator performances

The architecture of the Piazza

The functions of Castello Maniace

Neapolis from past to present

Syracuse during the tyranny of Dionysius

The Church of San Giovanni alle Catacombe

Ortygia. Venus rising from the waters of the port

The Cathedral of Syracuse

Traces of Christianity in Syracuse

The Athenaion of the tyrant Gelon

Temple of Apollo

The Greek Theatre of Syracuse

The Euryalus Fortress

The catacombs of San Giovanni

King Hyblon’s kingdom: Pantalica, between history and legend

Giudecca, the hidden Jewish heart of Syracuse

The Culture of Pantalica

Pantalica: where nature and history merge

The Altar of Hieron II: Blood and fire place

Roman Syracuse, a military power thanks to the genius of Archimedes

Byzantine Pantalica

Castello Maniace

The Museion and the Grotta del Ninfeo

The cultural significance of tragedy

Inside the Cathedral of Ortygia

Piazza del Duomo, a sacred place of the ancient Greeks

Crypt of San Marciano

The Spanish fortification

The Ear of Dionysius and the Grotta dei Cordari

The Church of St. Lucia to the Abbey

Legends and magic echoes in the Latomie of Syracuse