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Siracusa City of Legend

Updated on February 5, 2015

Legends began in Sicily, the Island of Myth

To the ancient Greeks, Sicily was a land for Gods and Heroes.

Persephone returned to the world here, and Spring continues to arrive earlier than anywhere else in Europe. Hercules roamed the island as did Ulysses, and the great blacksmith, Hephaestus, still works his forge under Mt Etna.

Now I'm going to Sicily, to spend 15 weeks in Siracusa, the city of legends.

A Dream Come True

I've always been intrigued by Sicily. Now my dream of seeing it firsthand s really coming true.

Originally I wanted to spend a Summer in Sicily but the practicalities of tourist season and price variations made me choose the late Autumn. Off season, cheaper, minus crowds.Perfetto!

But why do I want to go to Sicily?

Persephone's Island

I love the mythology of ancient peoples, especially the world that the early Greeks saw.

When Persephone was abducted by Hades, God of the Underworld, it was in Sicily. At least the mythical land where much of the stories in Greek mythology occur, corresponds with Sicily. To me, it is Sicily.

When Persephone is returned to her mother, Demeter, she comes again to Sicily, bringing the Spring with her.

Indeed, Spring comes first to Sicily. The almond blossoms appear in early February to be celebrated as harbingers of spring. Once the delicate pinkish-white blossoms appear, Spring is not too far behind - at least in Sicily.

I'm going to walk on Persephone's Island, perhaps in her very footsteps, who knows?

The Land of the Cyclopes

Bk IX:105-151

Ulysses tells his tale:

And there's a safe harbour where there's no need for moorings, neither anchor stones nor hawsers: you can beach your ship and wait till the wind is fair and the spirit moves you to sail. Now, at the head of the harbour a stream of bright water flows out from a cave ringed by poplars

This is Siracusa! When Artemis changed Arethusa into a spring of water to escape the river god Alpheus, it was here that the transformed maiden emerged - and here was the cave of the Cyclops later visited by Ulysses and his men.

My Holiday Flat in Siracusa

How beautiful is this? A self contained flat with TV, DVD, air-con, microwave, gas stove and washing machine on this fabulous little island within an island. It even has WiFi!

My apartment is within walking distance of some of the most outstanding archaeological treasures in the world. There's a bus stop on the corner and I will be surrounded by pizzerias and other eating palaces in case I get tired of the trattoria right next door!

I will be close to the Siracusa Market

Siracusa Market
Siracusa Market

There's an open air market for six days a week. Lots of fresh fish and those stunning vegetables for which Sicily is famed.

This is exotic for me

Via in Siracusa
Via in Siracusa

My European friends laugh when I say that cobbled streets and narrow alleyways are exotic. Australia has a very short European history, we just don't have old places.

Photos of Siracusa - Yep, cobbled streets and narrow alleyways

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Feast your eyes on Siracusa


Archimides of Siracusa (Syracuse)

Archimedes, one of the greatest mathematicians of all time, is a hero of mine. I always saw him as Greek, but he was from Siracusa.

In 212 BCE, Syracuse fell to Rome. After an unsuccessful siege, a small party of Roman soldiers approached the city at night while the inhabitants, were celebrating the annual festival of Artemis. Killing the few guards on duty, the Romans stormed the relaxing Syracusians as they slumbered, and opened the city gates to the rest of their forces.

The Roman General, Marcellus, had ordered that Archimedes should not be killed. Archimedes, who was now around 78 years of age, continued his studies at home while the fighting was going on until his work was disturbed by a Roman soldier. He protested at this interruption of his work and coarsely told the soldier to leave; the soldier, not knowing who he was, killed Archimedes on the spot.

Archimides, the Genius of Siracusa

I booked my holiday with Airbnb

For great places to stay, I'm using Airbnb, a global network of accommodation offered by locals in the area you want. As well as an apartment in Siracusa, I booked a week-long stay in Pompeii through Airbnb. It's not just cheaper than hotels, I get to meet the locals.

Through Airbnb you can find all types of accommodation. You can rent a room in someone's house, a private dorm in a hostel, a granny flat in a garden or a whole apartment to yourself (like I booked). There's even luxury accommodation if that's your cup of tea. Or cappuchino.

Take a quick look at a few fantastic places in Sicily from $10 a night

What do you think?

Would you like to stay in Sicily?

See results

All comments, each and every one, are greatly appreciated

© 2012 Susanna Duffy


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