Siracusa is a fantastic place with more history than I ever envisioned. Good thing because the boat is very rolly and it is great to get off it.
Siracusa has a large natural harbor which makes it a destination even thousands of years ago. Originally settled about 3,000 years ago by nomadic tribes. It really took off when the Corinthians (Greeks) came and developed the island and neighboring lands. Siracusa is barely an island with about 50 meters of water separating it from Sicily. Siracusa grew and broke free of Corinth and soon rivaled Athens and Carthage (now Tunisia) as a power. It really grew is status when it defeated Carthage in the Battle of Himera in 480 BC. Athens was watching but was busy with the Peloponnesian Wars. Athens finally turned its attention to Siracusa and assembled the largest fleet every in 418 BC. Poor planning and execution let to a huge defeat of the fleet. The captured soldiers were enslaved for seven years in the quarries for the city.
Siracusa became a place for intellectuals and was the place of the birth of Greek comedy theater. But a new threat loomed, Rome. As it grew they looked at Siracusa and eventually attacked. Archimedes provided some very ingenious defenses but the city was lost to the Romans in 211 BC. Under Roman rule it remained the capital of Sicily but started its decline. Plagues, famine and earthquakes added more to its decline.
In WWII the British took the city after some very intense bombing and led to the invasion of Sicily then the invasion onto the mainland of Italy after the Italians surrender but the Germans retained huge defense on the mainland. All the troops killed in action at Sicily are buried or honored at Anzio/Nettuno on the mainland.
Overall I really like the place. History, small and easy to get around, good food and something to see every day.
Siracusa along the waterfront. Very rough seas right now. Recently they added large concrete blocks to reduce the impact of the waves against the ancient city walls.
Closer view of the walls and the entrance to the harbor. Great fort protecting the entrance. Still used by the military and the school of architecture.
The Duomo in the center of town. Impressive square in front and clearly the focus for all the tours. The clocks at the top are not working but the bells do.
The Archimedes fountain which also hosts some of the more expensive shops around the square.
Here we are in the marina. Not the best place for comfort but it does allow easy access to get off the boat. That is a sand quarry operation in the background.
Roman vintage ruins in the town.
During the WWII bombings this is when the population went. They were very organized with different groups responsible from everything from medical, repairs, sanitation and other items. Originally these were the crypts but they were expanded to house many of the towns people during the war. During the invasion after the bombs stopped the towns people emerged to find the harbor full of Allied ships and the paratroopers had taken the bridge into the town. It must have been really tough just like London bombings.
A bronze casting of the lamb statue outside the fort at the harbor entrance. The original was in stone and this is a casting from that.
You never know who is looking at you
This is/Was the Greek theater. The old stones have been covered with platforms to protect them while the facility is used for modern events.
The rather ugly new (and poorly maintained) landmark (1994) Santuario Della Madonna Delle Lacrime to house a statue of the Virgin that allegedly wept for 5 days in 1953 and bestowed over 300 miraculous cures within a matter of months. Hum, I was born in 53?
Smile. Strange little aquarium along the waterfront with fish from everywhere but Sicily it seems.