Such a lovely place, Ortigia. If I ever come back to stay for a while in Sicily, I think a place I could visit again would be Ortiga, Siracusa. It is the oldest part of a very ancient city. Very small and easy to navigate. My apartment, that I found on Airbnb, was easily within walking distance of the train station. and quite perfect for a 4 night visit for one person. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/8275883?wl_source=list&wl_id=240638792&role=wishlist_public&adults=1&children=0&infants=0 After getting settled in, I went in search of lunch! I found several recommendations on TripAdvisor and had contacted them in advance to see if they would be open. Mid-January is a very common time for businesses to be closed for “ferie”, the much needed time for renovation and/or recovery from a busy holiday season. Many of the “best” restaurants were closed so I decided to try Osteria del Vecchio Ponte. https://www.facebook.com/Osteria-Del-Vecchio-Ponte-1443411409281426/ Fabio was an excellent host and I had the place to myself as lunch is not the main meal for most Italians, especially mid-week. I tried the very big and fat raviolis stuffed with ricotta cheese and covered in a black sepia sauce. I got about half way through the plate and had to stop because it was so rich! I’ve never eaten sepia sauce, made from the black ink of squids, and probably won’t eat it again. I followed this with a very delicious plate of fried fish and seafood. The house wine was pretty good too. All in all, I was very satisfied with my experience. I was also very enamored by the charming-ness of this island. I’m glad I found a tamarindo stand! My tummy was in need of a good degestivo after that meal!
My very favorite restaurant find was Taverna Yerevan! http://taverna-yerevan.thefork.rest/en_GB/ One of only two Armenian restaurants in all of Italy, you won’t go wrong eating here. Michele is an amazing host! And believe me, after months of eating fish and pasta, a huge plate of perfectly seasoned grilled meat with a side of tabouleh hit the spot! And I got to drink wine from the oldest wine region in the world! Yep, the very first wines were made in what is now Armenia. I had no idea! This is very close to the best wine I’ve ever tasted. I bought a bottle of it to take home to Colorado. Manfred will love it! This place was so awesome that I ate there twice in my 4 day visit. Mmmm!
One evening I decided all of a sudden that I had to taste pizza while I am in Sicily! Italian pizza is very different than US pizza, and New York is some of our most famous. Since the New York style pizza is greatly influenced by the Sicilian immigrants to that area, I can’t miss this opportunity. I stopped a couple of young people in the street and asked them where was the very best pizza in Ortigia. In unison they responded, “Pizzeria Archemedi!” and proceeded to give me directions. It was quite yummy! Although the “Be careful, Signora” hot oil was not really hot. Tasty, but not hot. HA! Colorado knows hot stuff! Anyway, I was very pleased with my Sicilian pizza experience! http://www.trattoriaarchimede.it/lang/en/index.php
In my search for good Sicilian wine I found Perricone, whose flavor is very bold and spice filled. I also found a bottle of Gewürztraminer grappa, for which I’ve been looking for months. It was even on sale! I will enjoy this bottle when I’m missing Italy the most this summer. There is just not room enough in my bags for all the luscious delights I want to take home with me. But I’m sure I can squeeze in a few bottles of good things.
I met a metaphysical hippy type woman from Chile and her Sicilian man while I was having a drink one afternoon. She took an immediate liking to me and asked me to share a smoke with them. This was a welcome reprieve from my solitude, although the tobacco mixed with pot was tough. I loved her generous spirit! She gave me a lovely pear shaped stone of what I think is chrysocolla, which I will have made into a necklace when I get home. I will think of her and my time in Siracusa every time I wear it!
Siracusa has many churches and historical monuments, although I didn’t go to any ruins because they don’t really interest me. The monument to the dead volunteers from WW2 was stunning from the outside, yet was not open for viewing. I also visited the church of Saint Lucy, Santa Lucia, Siracusa’s patron saint. A kind and generous Sicilian lay server took me on a detailed and extensive tour of the church and chapel but could not take me into the catacombs because they are closed from October until April. I was surprised how much I understood of what he told me. He spoke very clearly and slowly, and my Italian has gotten much better this trip!
I saw some beautiful sunsets and fabulous sunny days while in Ortigia. I’ve included lots of photos below. A beautiful experience and I highly recommend a visit.