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Cassandra's Guide to Ortigia

Early mornings in Ortigia, bathed in a warm yellow glow and with the sea washing the rocks of the old fortress town, are worth waking up early for. Already the narrow streets are quietly alive with locals enjoying the cool air before the midday sun. Geraniums are watered, sheets hung out to billow like ship’s sails in the sun and the sound of strong café splutters on gas stoves. My camera already has hundreds of photographs, my sketch book has pages of notes and half finished drawings, so I stop for a café to gather my thoughts, and with eyes half closed I begin to piece together designs. The Ortigia motif comes from one of the oval wrought iron window frames of the narrow streets – I toy with ideas of long chains and bracelets in gold and silver. Only the sound of a fast moving Vespa jolts me out of my reverie…

window2 Inspiration for the 'Ortigia' motif

 

There are a few notable places in Ortigia that really can't be missed. They are perfect to keep you going after a busy day designing or sight seeing:

For lunch I like to stop at Fratelli Burgio, Piazza Cesare Battisti 4, Ortigia (Tel +39 0931 60 069)

Situated at the beginning of the bustling and busy food market, it combines a shop of local delicacies where you can also buy exquisite picnics. I like to sit in the piazza amongst the stands and crates of vegetables, looking out to the sea and feasting on the menu of cold dishes. A glass of wine, salamis, hams and cheeses directly from local farmers, large doses of Sicilian sunshine and my sketch book is all I need.

ortigia_sunrise_2 Sunlight over Ortigia

In the evening there is nothing more beautiful than to sit in Piazza Duomo at Regina Lucia, Piazza Duomo, 6, Ortigia (Tel +39 0931 22 509)

Sit and drink in history that overlaps like waves on the sea shore not far away  - telling us that history is always in the making. Greeks, Romans, all the conquerors of this golden isle coveted Syracuse and Ortigia. Let your eyes feast on the golden, theatrical piazza del Duomo and magnificent Baroque cathedral dedicated to St Lucia.

From here it is a nice walk through the narrow streets to L’Ancora, Via Perno 7, Ortiga (Tel: +39 0931 462 369)

One of the best restaurants in Siracusa where again I like to sit outside. Everything is delicious: from the antipasto of prawns marinated in oil and lemon, to the risotto al mare presented wrapped in a foil origami ‘seagull‘ to keep it warm and perfectly al dente.

risotto_seagul The risotto seagull at L'Ancora
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