You may also hear Ortygia referred to as the Citta Vecchia. This is an entirely appropriate name as it translates into Old City. It is essentially part of Siracusa but should be visited as a separate entity, allowing an entire day to really soak up everything it has to offer.
And what, exactly, does it have to offer? Well, it is steeped in history and despite the island’s small size it certainly knows how to pack things in. Greek monuments are not difficult to find here, and the Temple of Apollo is an excellent example of how quickly you may stumble over them. If you keep on in a straight line once you have crossed the Ponte Santa Lucia Bridge, you will soon come across the temple on the left-hand side. Amazingly the temple is well over 1400 years old, and has gone through a few uses since its creation. Today it stands in ruins but don’t be fooled – those ruins are still incredibly impressive.
Another area you may want to take more time over is the Piazza Duomo. This is the location of the Duomo itself, another building that has been standing for centuries and will no doubt remain so long after we are gone. Ortygia is small, but it packs so much into the size it has been granted that you will want to sit back and take some time to drink it all in. My recommendation would be to find a nice café in the piazza here, and to order a coffee or something stronger while you enjoy the blessed weather and the scenes unfolding around you.
At some point you will want to be up and exploring again though, buoyed by the power of the local brew, and you simply must not miss the charms of the daily market. You’ll need to be up early to catch it but the effort is worth it. It’s a profusion of colour and produce and is definitely the place to be if you are focusing more on self-catering than eating out all the time. Cheese lovers will be in heaven, especially when their eyes fall onto the baked ricotta set out on its stall. Seriously, many people may want to let others do the cooking when they are on holiday by eating out. However when you see the sheer delights tumbled over the stalls at the Ortygia market, you’ll want to self-cater like you’ve never done before.
Really there should be no firm plans for exploring the wonders of Ortygia. Instead you should head across the bridge from Syracuse and let things develop from there. It seems as if there is a new delight or discovery to be found around every corner. This could be something as simple as local produce or a centuries-old structure still standing in the 21st century. Whatever you discover, you’ll want to make time last forever as you take it all in.