As you walk through Neapolis, your nostrils will fill with the intense, pungent scent of oregano, one of the most popular aromatic plants in the park.
A very rare species of oregano called Origanum onites (Greek oregano) grows on the mountain relief of the Temenite Hill.
The name of this plant comes from the ancient Greek language and consists of two words: “oros” meaning mountain and “ganos” meaning splendour and beauty.
Scholars and schoolchildren on trips to Syracuse pause in amazement and wonder in the cavern described by Caravaggio as the “Ear of Dionysius”.
Tradition has it that the tyrant Dionysius, thanks to the extraordinary echoing between the cave walls, could hear every single word spoken by the slaves imprisoned in the Latomie, who spoke freely thinking they were alone in their stone prison.
It is not clear whether the tyrant used this information channel, but the grotto was definitely used to increase the diffusion of sound in the Greek theatre, where exciting performances took place.
In the Latomie, the Cordari (rope makers) of Syracuse carried out a craft deeply rooted in Sicilian culture: they made rope by working vegetable fibres with their hands.
The work of the rope maker was silent and repetitive, using always the same gestures, the same steps back and forth from dawn to dusk.
Using their thumb and index finger, the rope makers unravelled, stretched and spun fibres to form the base cord.
Commonly used vegetable fibres were hemp, coconut and American aloe; the latter, very rough by nature, was used for the bottom of chairs. Coconut, a soft and porous fibrous mass, was used for the most robust and water-resistant ropes.
Hemp, or cannu in Sicilian, was the most prized fibre and intensively cultivated in the local countryside.
One of the most curious features of the Grotta dei Cordari is the unique effect created by rainwater, which penetrates from the vault through infiltrations and covers the ground, forming a thin lake of still and transparent water.
Thanks to its particular chemical composition, sometimes the rainwater takes on pastel colours tending towards pink and green, with a thousand different shades.
The colours are reflected onto the rock faces and create spectacular plays of light, which make this place magical and evocative.