Wine as storytelling of the territory:
Siracusa is one of the most beautiful cities to see in Italy: not only for its beautiful landscapes, its clear,blue sea, its beaches that alternate rocks and fine golden sand and its good weather stretching until late October and charcterised by mild winters. Just by its name, Siracusa, evokes myth, history, art and traditions; a true crossroad of peoples and cultures whose presence is clearly found in its millennial stratification.
Departing from Contrada Fanusa, where the wine company Cantine Gulino produces its wine,close to the beaches of Terrauzza, Plemmirio, Arenella, Ognina and Fontane Bianche, you arrive in town travelling along the modern Via Elorina. The name of this street derives from Helorine odos, the ancient route that connected Siracusa to the settlement of Eloro: before reaching Siracusa, it passed near the Olympeion, a temple dedicated to the god Zeus.
This ancient building overlooked, from its height, the whole city, but today only two columns remain to testify its very existence. According to ancient sources, the area surrounding the temple was called “Polichne”: here were produced the votive jars containing oils that the sailors used to scatter into the sea so to propitiate the navigation. A large statue of Olympian Zeus was kept inside the temple, in which were also kept tablets with the names of all the citizens qualified to arms.
A journey through the historic districts of Siracusa
After the crossing of the Ciane river, appears Siracusa, founded by Corinthians in the 8th century B. C..You can immediately see the outline of Ortigia stretching on the sea. At its far end, facing the horizon, stands the Castello Maniace, the Swabian fortress of Federico II. Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, French, Spanish have all left their mark of their passage, still visible today in the buildings architecture, as well as in art and culture.
Siracusa expanded quickly: Acradina, Tyche, Neapolis and Epipoli joined the original nucleus of Ortigia.The Greek geographer Strabone called Siracusa “Pentapolis” (formed by five “cities” or districts).
Ortigia is the old town, the oldest part of the city: here the tyrant Dionysius erected his stronghold. Equipped with two natural harbours (Porto Grande and Porto Piccolo), it seems that Ortigia had already in ancient time been connected to the mainland by a stone embankment or a narrow bridge. Although it was, by its nature, unassailable, Ortigia was protected by walls and fortifications: the “Pentapylon”, for instance, connected the island to Acradina. Much archaeological and architectural evidence, many places to visit in Ortigia, which can be sightseen on foot or by bicycle. The Temple of Apollo stand as one of its main landmarks; then, the Cathedral – originally the temple of Athena – in Piazza Duomo; the Fountain of Arethusa; the Maniace Castle; the Archimede Square with its Fountain of Diana; the Bellomo Museum; and finally all the other landmarks of lesser fame: churches, palaces and buildings from all the different historical periods.
North of Ortigia, was Acradina. Very close to the sea, in this ancient district was the greek arsenal (Neoria), whose remains are still visible near the Sbarcadero of Santa Lucia. A major road –the “via lata perpetua”, one of the main roads of Siracusa- crossed Acradina from east to west: you can see some sections in the archaeological area of Piazza della Vittoria, near the Santuario della Madonna delle Lacrime.
Latins Livio and Cicerone wrote about the splendor of ancient Acradina: here was the “foro” and, therefore, many other sacred and public buildings: the Altare della Concordia, the “Curia” (with vestibule, seats and terraces for public meetings), the “Pritaneo” (where the local magistrate performed his duties), an arch erected in honour of the controversial Roman roman governor of Sicily, Verre. Even today, walking in the park of Villini, the remains of three columns evoke the richness of the past.
Along Via Elorina you can admire the Roman Gymnasium, where you can see the remains of an ancient monumental complex that included a small theater, a colonnade and a temple. Moving towards the upper part of the city, you can visit the catacombs of Santa Lucia and San Giovanni and the Latomie dei Cappuccini, Siracusa’s largest ancient stone quarry.
Bike lovers can admire the wonderful coastal line of part of the city by enjoying the path that initially sides the iconic Monumento dei Caduti.
Originaly a suburb of Acradina just like Neapolis was, Tyche was called that way because of, according to the sources, a temple dedicated to the goddess “Fortuna”.
Neapolis was the “New City”. It reached the greatest expansion during the rule of Hiero II: equipped with walls, rich in monumental and prestigious buildings, it was also called “Maxima”. The ancient “via lata perpetua” arrived to this settlement, new at that time, situated in the upper part of the city, where today the Neapolis Archaeological Park stands and contains magnificent treasures: the Roman Amphitheater (with the remains of the arch dedicated to emperor Augustus), the Ara di Ierone, the three Latomie (stone quarries) of Paradiso, Intagliatella and Santa Venera, the Orecchio di Dionisio and the Grotta dei Cordari; the big, wondeful Greek Theater and the Via dei Seplocri that leads to the top of Temenite Hill; the grave of Archimedes that became a columbarium (a funerary complex) in the Roman period.
A true must to be seen and to add to this path of wonders is the Paolo Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum.
Epipoli, the wide plateau that Thucydides considered of the utmost strategic importance, vital to the security of the city, was so called – according to the Athenian historian – for standing above the city more than any other part of the city itself. Epipoli would dominate Ortigia and its two ports. From this place was possible to watch the movements of troops and ships from and to every direction. In this part of town you can visit Castello Eurialo, the fortification built by Dionysius the Elder.