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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 14 October 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 14 OCTOBER 2017 17 TRAVEL Syracuse was once the Mediterranean centre of Greek civilisation, rivalling Athens as the most important metropolis. Michael Sweet walks the streets of Ortygia to tell the story of what Cicero called ‘the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all’ Plato says ‘We Greeks sit around the sea like frogs around a pond.’ Megal Hellas would eventually comprise vast coastal city-states from the Iberian Peninsula to Asia Minor. Too tempting: Voglia Matta gelataria. Winemaker Angelo Paterno and his daughter Federica of Cantina Marilina near Noto. Half of Italy’s wine is produced in Sicily. A 20-minute walk from Ortygia, the elegant Corte Sicluna B&B makes a perfect base to explore the Syracuse. fascinating window into the story of Hellenism in the Mediterranean. AROUND SYRACUSE Southeast Sicily is a land of rocky gorges and home to some of the island's most beautiful towns. Thirty kilometres due east of Syracuse, the archaeological park of Akrai, near Palazzolo Acreide, contains the ruins of Syracuse's first inland colony, created to defend the overland trading route to other Greek settlements. Head south on the E35 highway and you will find gems of beaches at Fontane Bianche and San Lorenzo. Go further to Marzamemi to find one of Sicily's prettiest seaside villages. To the east of Avola is an area of Unescolisted hilltop towns famous for their baroque architecture, including Noto, 40 kilometres south of Syracuse. Half of Italy's wine production comes from Sicily and the southeast boasts some fine winemakers. Cantina Marilina, a vineyard in the Noto region established by the Paterno family, specialises in organic wines. Open for tastings year round, the 60-hectare vineyard which uses the Nero Davola and semillon grape produces 70,000 bottles a year. Cantina Marilina, Contrada San Lorenzo, Noto. See cantinamarlinia.com RESTAURANT PICK For one of the most authentic Sicilian dining experiences in Ortydgia, head for Osteria Da Mariano, tucked away off the Via Santa Teresa near the island's southernmost tip. Here owners Mariano and Paolo Salafia serve up great dishes like coniglio alla cacciatora (rabbit casserole, €9), penne e spada (penne with swordfish, cherry tomatoes and mint, €11), and spaghetti vongole e bottarga (spaghetti with clams and roe, €12). Great food at great prices. Osteria da Mariano, Vicolo Zuccola 9. Italy of course means ice cream and Syracuse has no shortage of great gelaterias. Close to the Ponte Umbertino bridge heading out of Ortygia, Voglia Matta is one of the town's best, serving delicious ice creams and granitas from 8am until midnight. Voglia Matta, Corso Umberto 34. ACCOMMODATION A bed for the night is unsurprisingly more expensive in Ortygia compared to the mainland city. In Syracuse for a late summer weekend I found Corte Sicula B&B an ideal refuge to explore the town. A 20-minute walk from Ortygia, this home away from home run by Melita and Paolo Gradanti has all the creature comforts a family needs, and would be ideal for a romantic getaway or solo travellers. With comfy mattresses, spacious bedrooms, and well-designed bathrooms the owners haven't skimped on furnishings and the interior design is bright, contemporary and elegant. Breakfast served in the interior courtyard - with fresh fruit, cakes, pastries, fruit juices and great coffee - is a treat. Paolo couldn't have been more help in advising on anything from where the most authentic Sicilian restaurant can be found to locating the nearest ATM. This is a perfect pied-àterre for exploring Syracuse's delights and great value. Corte Sicula B&B. Viale Luigi Cadorna 122. See beBCEortesicula.com Outside Syracuse your best bet is to stay in one of the many Agritourismos (farm stays) dotted around the countryside. Renovated working farms, Agritourismo properties offer bed and breakfast and an evening meal, and are particularly suited to families. See www.agriturismo.it/en GETTING THERE Syracuse is a 45-minute drive south of Catania International Airport which is serviced by a host of European airlines including Aegean Airlines, Alitalia and Ryanair.
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