If you are looking for some culture and entertainment, you can’t go far wrong with Syracuse’s Greek amphitheatre and her plays.
Based on the mainland, it’s set in the old bedrock, carved out by the Greeks who lived here two thousand years ago. The place has been regenerated from farmland into a modern outdoor theatre, and with the weather being so good the plays are hardly ever interrupted by bad weather. They operate for three months of the year, May – June, and show two different plays each month.
The theatre dated back to the 5th-century b.c. and was at least operational for 900 years. Records of it then renewed in the 1500s when Spanish King Charles V destroyed the scenery stonework and upper parts of the theatre to build fortifications on the island of Ortigia. Finally, in the early 1900s Sicilians began to restore and reuse the theatre for plays. Today it is heavily modernised, and yet endeavours to keep as much of the traditional parts of the theatre. Wood replaces the rock, cushions are available, electric lights and sound systems support the late-night performances, and even an instant translation system, which gives you the play in English.
If you go on a relatively quiet night, there is even space to lie down, listening to the play, while staring at the stars and the rising moon.
When you arrive, you walk past other Ancient Greek monuments and are greeted by officers in military Esq uniform, standing with sabres or sitting on horses. The sun shines down on the white stone, creating a stunning white glow, that lights up everywhere and everything.
As you go up the steps to find your seats, you begin to see that the Greeks really did pick fantastic locations for their theatres. Not only had they found a rock to carve into that could make a U-Shape Théatre, but it also gave stunning views of the bay in Ortigia, which you can still see today on the heightist seats. The closer, the more expensive. The seats we had were €30, and you sat where you liked in the section.
As the night draws in, and lights go on, you can hear the sound of a stream babbling behind the upper seats. The steam is connected to an Ancient Greek aqueduct, which is still in operation today. It draws water from a hill several miles away and runs past the theatre. Supposedly designed to allow the theatre to be flooded if required.
The play we saw was Aristophanes’ ‘The Knights’, (Almost 2500 years old.) which is a political commentary on Athens, and the cities fight against the Spartans. It discusses both the foolishness of the upper and lower classes of Athens. With a modern interpretation, which clearly criticised current Italian politicians as well as the people. It tells of a sausage maker who attempts to rise to political leadership through selling lies and foolish ideas. This seems more akin to a Donald Trump leadership, except the guy had big hands and a lot of long sausages, so clearly it must have been resembling some other political leader. For a night of outdoor entertainment, you could not ask for more, and I would thoroughly recommend attending this venue, the humour was timeless, and the setting romantic, what more could you ask for on a Thursday night.
The link to buy tickets for plays are below: