Metaphorically speaking, Ortigia is like a beautiful and creative young girl amongst a crowd of burly rustic men that is Sicily.
Upon recommendation from a friend, we decided to focus our Sicily trip on the historical centre of the city of Syracuse, on the southern island of Ortigia, and we are so glad we did. Tiny in area (and thus, completely walkable), Ortigia is comprise of small alleyways and winding narrow streets, most of which either pass through the large and luminous main square, or eventually opening up to picturesque views of the Mediterranean. During our stay we discovered beautiful boutiques, ancient ruins (that apparently rival those of Greece), and ate seriously some of the best food we have ever had. Ever.
I highly recommend a stop in this part of Sicily, as it rivals all the stereotypes. While most of the main sights and the ancient ruins are located on Syracuse’s mainland, Ortigia is the place to stay.
The ruins in Ortigia’s Centre.
Smoked Buffalo Mozzarella + Sandwhiches at Caseificio Borderi Elefteria (for the best deli in the world).
This place is an experience. The happy-to-help people behind the rows of cheeses, deli meats, and various fixings will whip you up a plate of their daily fresh offerings as a “gift from them to you.” It’s mind-blowingly delicious, as are the sandwich concoctions, which we ended up ordering every morning. If you’re in luck, they’ll crack open a bottle of prosecco and fill little plastic glasses for everyone in the store, on the house. We couldn’t leave this place without a massive loaf of cheese (I still dream about the smoked buffalo mozzarella), every time.
For the BEST PASTA: order the Tagliatelle at Retroscena.
As recommended by my friend Jess (she has great taste):
Shop for the luxury bath line Ortigia at Le Antiche Siracuse.
Pick up (non-touristy) Italian souvenirs at the TAMI’ Concept Store.
For more of our favourite things that we saw, did, and ate, check out my customized interactive map (zoom out to see Syracuse) here: