Carol Forster column

Siracusa Piazza Archimede.
Siracusa Piazza Archimede.
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Beautiful Siracusa, with its Greek, Roman, Arabic and Norman history, was at one time known as the most important city in Magna Graecia under tyrant Gelon.

Colonized by Greek Corinthians around 734BC, it defeated invading Athenian fleets in 415BC, and was even home to mathematician and philosopher Archimedes.

They held off the Romans when the rest of Sicily had already succumbed, until soon after 215BC.

Many important Norman buildings were destroyed in the 1693 earthquake.

Ortigia (an island separated by bridge from modern Siracusa) has many historical attractions such as ‘The Fountain of Arethusa’.

According to legend, the nymph Arethusa was fleeing the unwanted attentions of the deluded river God Alpheios, so Goddess Artemis turned the poor girl into a fresh water spring.

Unfortunately, the stalker tracked her down and mixed his own waters with hers.

The daft apeth didn’t get the message, that’s for sure.

Legend says that this spring connects to the river at the sanctuary of Olympia.

The Piazza del Duomo is built on the site of the ancient ‘Temple of Athena’ and still has Doric columns visible.

Here you find the church of Siracusa’s patron saint, Santa Lucia, and the Baroque ‘Palazzo Beneventano’.

The Doric ‘Temple of Apollo’, built in 7th century BC, is awe-inspiring, as are the Byzantine ‘Miqwe Jewish baths’ and Frederick II’s ‘Castello Maniace’.

Disturbingly, some nearby old stone quarries were used as a prison in ancient times.

The high arch prison was run by ‘Dionysius the Tyrant’ and later named by Caravaggio as ‘the Ear of Dionysius’ due to its incriminating acoustics.

You wouldn’t want to be a prisoner here.

Siracusa has an awesome archaeological site – a treasure trove of Greek and Roman artefacts.

A Roman amphitheatre, which was built in 3AD, was at one time a place of rather ghastly fights between gory gladiators and hapless human and animal victims.

More pleasantly, a Greek hillside theatre dates back to around 5BC and is still used for an annual Greek theatre festival.

Siracusa is a feast for the senses.