Ortigia is a gorgeous town, based on an island, connected to the town of Siracusa and the island of Sicily.
A beautiful town, covered in butter coloured stone, which glows warm yellow in the constant sunshine of the Meditteranean.
Famous for Archimedes, Plato and Carravaggio as well as the food, sunshine, beaches and the clear turquoise waters that surround the island. If you are intending of visiting there are a host of things I would recommend you try. So, here is a list of things to do in Ortigia.
Swimming in Ortigia
There are three swimming locations on the island of Ortigia. One in the lagoon on the eastern side and two on the western side, which takes you out to the Mediterranean.
There are two beaches and one rocky outcrop; all give spectacular views.
The eastern side is perfect for a morning dip, fishing boats are out bringing in fish for the market and the sea is more often than not calm and as flat as glass. The beach is known as “Spiaggia di Cala Rossa” a rough translation would be the beach of the red cove. It is made up of shingle, so either you will get used to it or bring some swim shoes. Once you navigate past the rocks that protect the cove you are into a wide ocean, full of fish, crabs and squid, so bring a snorkel!
If you want to try something different to your typical beach you head to the rocks. Known simply as ‘The rocks’ this is such an interesting beach, you can still see evidence of the old fortifications. You can get in via the stairs, the pontoon when it is up, (normally May to September.) or you can brave the rocks jumping off them into the deep ocean or scaling down them to knee-high water. Swim out past the rocks and soon you see a four-storey drop in the ocean floor; the water is so clear you can see all the way down.
If you are looking for a sandy beach definitely go here. “Spiaggia dei Conigli” translated as rabbits beach. A tiny beach on the eastern side of the island that leads into the lagoon. Beautiful for sunset and extremely deep.
Whatever you choose, you are going to be spoilt with free fun.
Food in Ortigia
What is more classic than getting some Pizza in Italy!
I had two favourite restaurants both are close to the Piazza Duomo, where you will find the Temple di Minerva. Go east and turn left and then almost immediately right and you will find Ristorante Pizzeria Il Nuovo Fermento down a tiny alley, with tables all laid out along the right-hand side. Amazing pizza, freshly made, cheaper than the supermarkets and twice as tasty. If you want an alternative restaurant try La Chiave Di Ortigia, only a short walk away on the same alley. Tables laid out, an old barbers connects to the restaurant and as you venture inside you realise you are in a Tardis. The backroom opens up into what appears to be an old church, huge ceilings, surrounded by pillars and cheddar coloured walls. A perfect place for a romantic, candlelit meal, or grab a pizza, head to the ocean or sit by the lagoon, watching the sun dip behind the hills and the fish come to the surface wanting to be fed.
This delicious dish is a breakfast treat best combined with a cappuccino. A croissant filled with either ricotta, (a type of light, soft, white dessert cheese, pistachio, honey or marmalade. My three favourite cafes serving these treats were in the Piazza Duomo or looking out onto the lagoon at Caffè Aretusa near Fonte Aretusa.
My favourite dessert and I have found a Sicilian lady in London who does as good a cannoli as in Ortigia! I have not given a suggestion for this one as I feel you need to get away from suggestions and find your own path and adventure.
This is a soft pastry dish filled with ricotta. A delicious and very fattening dessert normally served with an added extra. Pistachio was always my favourite but there are plenty to choose from. I will say that you mainly want to avoid the touristy areas for this and find one off the typical path. They are in plentiful supply across the island but the best are the ones that the locals go to.
If you would like to know more about Ortigia, I have written a book about my time living there, the adventures, the history as well as some tips on moving abroad.
I have also done a video with my Italian friend Ida and give you a few tips on being on the island as well as some clips from my time there.
I hope you enjoyed this, it is the first part and there is plenty more to talk about with Ortigia.
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