Syracuse's beautiful architecture is a constant reminder that in its heyday this city was the largest in the ancient world. Ancient Greek ruins make a spectacular backdrop for orange groves; medieval lanes run between Baroque piazzas, part of a post-earthquake, post-invasion building program, amongst which you'll find many of the best places to stay in Syracuse.
Most of Syracuse's main sights are in the centre of the old town, which is on Ortigia Island, with the main archaeological sites about 25 minutes walk away. This island was the first place settled by the Corinthians when they landed, and it still has a very different feel to the rest of the city - packed with beautifully restored Baroque buildings, fine hotels (some of the best places to stay in Syracuse) and excellent restaurants, and you're only ever moments from a wonderful sea view. The Syracuse of the mainland was heavily bombed during WW2, so its architecture is much more modern.
Once you've visited the cathedral, converted from an Athenian Temple - you can still see the Doric columns on the flanks - and the basilica, with its famous painting by Caravaggio, it's also worth stopping off at the smaller Sanctuary Madonna della Lacrime, famous for its mass produced Madonna statue which shed tears in 1954.
Wherever you're walking you're bound to come across the Fonte Arethusa, the city's ancient water supply. This is where Napoleon was said to have refilled his supplies before the Battle of the Nile. Its origins have a more romantic edge, it's said to be a nymph, Arethusa, who's feeling the advances of a river-God towards the sea. There are some lovely fountains along the route of this spring - which again, you'll probably not be able to miss!
The market is another sight you'll probably run into. If you want to take your stand against the mafia, buy Libera Terra products - these are the ones grown on land reclaimed from the mafia.
Outside the town are the main Greek and Roman ruins, an outstanding collection which includes a vast necropolis of five thousand tombs, the foundations of a Byzantine palace and the core buildings from ancient Syracuse. Which was described by Cicero as 'the greatest Greek city, and the most beautiful of all'.
Amongst these ruins it's also worth finding the 'ruined' quarry, which has a vast chamber with chisel-marked walls - this is where the stones for this beautiful city, built several times over, were sweated out.
Beachy minimalism on Ortigia's peninsula with fabulous sea views from the terrace. White washed walls, dashes of sea blue, black and white chequered floors, and elegant beds. A great value choice for families or romantic breaks by the sea.
Lovely beachy B&B on the seafront in Ortigia. Breezy cream rooms with splashes of colour, some with private balconies. Excellent roof top terrace overlooking the harbour. Great value, family friendly and excellent food.
This unique property is located on the architecturally famous island of Ortygia. All rooms are decorated in a bohemian style with wrought iron beds, fabulous antique furniture, art work and sea views. A typical Italian breakfast can be enjoyed on the sun terrace. Local cafés are walking distance.
Stylish small resort with the only private beach in Syracuse. Eleven rooms, one suite and three apartments for the more independent minded. Chic interiors with natural elements: exposed stone work, white washed walls and fine fabrics. A grown up beach retreat a stone's throw from Ortigia.