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Syracuse and Sicilia, Italy, July 2021

+ The place


+ My feelings and historical part

Note:: Syracuse for a week, but I travel around Syracuse, luckily.
Syracuse is a small, peaceful town. Beautiful churches, few beaches, but I discovered a pleasant restaurant, “Zen & Jonico”, with a terrace and the possibility of swimming. You have to pay to access the terrace but it’s worth the detour, far from the busy beaches.
Ortygia Island has many monuments and churches. Strolling through its narrow and old streets is a marvel of discovery, not only for its churches but also for the atmosphere that reigns there.
Ragusa, Modica and Notto are also worth a visit, especially Ragusa. A very beautiful city that requires a full day to visit it, unfortunately I only had a few hours. You also need good shoes and a large bottle of water, under the Sicilian sun as it goes up and down … Modica is also perched on a hill like Ragusa but the monuments are more accessible. I would also say not to hesitate to stroll in the small alleys. Noto is also a very beautiful town, but even less steep for visiting the main cathedrals and churches, they are almost all in the same area.
Cassibile’s Cava Grande nature reserve is truly a marvel. I felt like I was in the Gorges du Verdon, not for the river but for the atmosphere. The descent seems gentle at first but with the heat, 38°C (100°F), then it becomes more strenuous. Despite these difficulties, it is worth the trip.
Historical part
Syracuse was founded in 734 by Greek colonists who left Corinth on the island of Ortygia, where they found a watering place called Arethuse. The expedition is led by Archias of the Bacchiades family. This family seeks to position themselves along the routes that cross the Mediterranean Sea (moreover, at the same time, another Bacchiades, Chersicrates, founded Corcyra on the sea route from the Illyrian coast to the eastern coast of Sicily).
Ragusa: The site of Ragusa has been occupied since Antiquity. This ancient habitat, then medieval, corresponds to the current district of Ibla (name of the old town). In 1693, a terrible earthquake struck the city and largely destroyed it. During the reconstruction after the earthquake, two clans clash: the bourgeois who wish to rebuild elsewhere, and the nobles, who prefer to stay where they are. The reconstruction will be carried out on the medieval bases in Ibla, and a new town is born above the old quarters. Ragusa-Nuova (“Ragusa la Neuve”) therefore contrasts with its wide, rectilinear streets and its majestic Baroque buildings. Ibla keeps its medieval cachet, dominated by the dome of Saint George (Duomo San Giorgio), with its winding streets and its many baroque houses and churches. Since 2002, the whole of the old town has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site5 alongside 7 other emblematic late Baroque towns of the Noto Valley.
Modica: The city was the scene, in 1474, of an anti-Jewish pogrom called “Strage dell’Assunta” (the Assumption massacre) . 360 Jews were massacred in the city’s Jewish quarter (Giudecca), under the encouragement of Catholic preachers. Partially affected by the 1693 earthquake, the city was rebuilt with baroque buildings which earned it a World Heritage classification by UNESCO along with seven other towns in Val di Noto. When the Treaties of Utrecht in 1713 passed the crown of Sicily from the King of Spain to the Duke of Savoy, the county of Modica remained an Iberian possession, fiscally and politically autonomous from the rest of the island. In 1804, Secretary of State John Acton received the Duchy of Modica in compensation for his withdrawal from public affairs at the request of the French.
Noto: Long occupied by the Muslims, Noto surrendered to the Norman conquerors commanded by Count Roger de Hauteville in 1091, thus putting an end to the Norman conquest of the Sicily (1061-1091). This date marks the beginning of the reign of the Hauteville family over the entire island and its history is now linked to the kingdom of Sicily. An earthquake devastated the town of Neai (Noto Antica) in 1693. Its inhabitants then decided to rebuild it about eight kilometers further south. On the hill of the Meti the people settle (Noto haute); Along the slopes, on the other hand, were built the main churches, the most important convents, and the prestigious aristocratic residences (Low Noto). The buildings are constructed with a yellow limestone.


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