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Report 2005: Naples & Sicily: Warmly Welcomes Travelers

By teezee from US, Spring 2012

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Page 8 of 13: Siracusa & Ortygia

The next day was devoted to Siracusa and exploring Ortygia. Park at the bottom parking lot and take the little free shuttle bus or walk. If you go left from the parking lot you can follow the ocean up and into the center. If you go approximately straight you will come to the center and the beautiful piazza and cathedral, passing the Greek and Roman remains. Any way you walk will be beautiful. We spent several hours exploring piazzas, archaeology, churches, and people watching and rewarded ourselves with a great lunch at Osteria de Mariano close to the ocean (info@osteriadamariano.it).

This homey, warm place has mostly a set menu (you can negotiate numbers of courses or fish versus meat but you won’t get a regular menu) and is perfect for large groups. We were surrounded by multi-generational Italian families having Sunday lunch and our group of eight was neither unusual for this restaurant nor a challenge. Here, as everywhere we ate on this trip, the fact that one of our friends has celiac was not a problem. Risotto or gluten-free pasta is provided and often gluten-free bread or crackers would appear for her. For about €30 each, we had a four course lunch with local wines and water and it was all quite good. Given the size of our group, we had made reservations on line before we came and the place was completely full on a Sunday afternoon.

Tips for older travelers: Some of us were wearier than others and it is very easy to ask any restaurant to call a taxi for you. Half the group walked back to the parking lot and half took a cab at a cost of €10 shared by four passengers. If you feel you need to pace yourself, do it. If you are making restaurant reservations and you have anybody with celiac or allergies, let the restaurant know in advance. They will often specially prepare for the person with special needs and will appreciate the advance notice.

The joy of renting a house is that our return meant relaxing in the garden, on the terrace, and in the pool for the remainder of the afternoon. As our big meal had been lunch, it was delightful in the evening to have dinner al fresco, just a delicious big salad and cheese and fruit. Do buy as much of your produce as you can from the trucks you will see during the day along the roads or in the town squares. The produce is fresh, cheap and delicious (€5 for a flat of strawberries that were spectacular as an example).

We went back to Siracusa for another day to explore the Parco Archaelogico with its Greek theater and the Archaelogy museum. We loved Siracusa and, as with most of our stops, wouldn’t have minded having at least one more day, but two days at least should be devoted to this gem of a city.

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