SICILY WHERE TO GO: THE MUSEUMS AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARKS OF EASTERN SICILY
Sicily, where to go if you want to visit the island starting from its history and museums?
I’ll try to answer this question by telling you something about my journey to Eastern Sicily, which allowed me to discover a territory full of history and art, but also to understand where to go if you have only a weekend at your disposal.
In this post you’ll find my advice about making a 3-day journey into art and culture in Eastern Sicily, and all useful information.
Sicily where to go if you want to discover art and history of Eastern Sicily
I arrived in Sicily a mid-February day and the spring-like temperature aroused my enthusiasm, which was already tremendous, because I looked forward to discovering the marvels of an island I hadn’t visited yet.
Before leaving, however, I planned the trip and on the site of Aditus Culture I found all the information I needed to know which museums and archaeological parks I could visit, including the possibility to book tickets directly.
SICILY WHERE TO GO: THE MUSEUMS AND HISTORIC PLACES TO VISIT
The Neapolis Archaeological Park of Syracuse – a place where the ancient history of Syracuse is concentrated in an open-air museum which measures 240,000 square meters.
From the stone base of the Altar of Hieron, the largest altar of the Ancient Greek world, to the Greek Theatre, dug on the slopes of the Temenite hill, the Neapolis Archaeological Park is a journey back in time, and you feel like you’re living at the times when Syracuse was one of the most important cities of the classical world.
- You can’t miss: the Ancient Theatre of Syracuse, that in ancient time could hold up to 15,000 spectators and where still today, at certain periods of the years, Greek tragedies are performed.
Maniace Castle – located in the most ancient area of the city of Syracuse, the Island of Ortygia, the Castle was built starting from 1232, by Frederick II. Thanks to its strategic position it controlled the harbour of the city.
The castle was named after the general George Maniakes, who had conquered Syracuse from the Arabs in 1038.
- You can’t miss: the impressive doorway made of polychrome marbles coming from present Turkey, which has been recently restored to its former splendour.
Bellomo Palace Regional Gallery– it’s one of Syracuse’s most beautiful palaces housing an amazing collection of sculptures and paintings made by Antonello Gagini, Francesco Laurana and the famous “Annunciation” painted by Antonello da Messina.
It’s probably the museum which houses the most beautiful collection of Renaissance works of art in the Syracuse area.
- You can’t miss: the masterpiece on display in the museum is certainly the well-known “Annunciation” by Antonello da Messina, painted in 1474 for the church of Maria Annunziata in Palazzolo Acreide, but you can’t exit the museum without admiring the works by Marco Minniti, pupil and model of Caravaggio.
The Archaeological Museum Paolo Orsi– it’s one of the most important archaeological museums in Europe for quantity and quality of the objects housed and on display.
To visit the museum you need at least 3 hours because it houses artifacts from prehistory to the Byzantine age.
The Museum is named after the famous archaeologist Paolo Orsi, who started a series of archaeological excavations which allowed for tracing the ancient history of Eastern Sicily.
- You can’t miss: the marble statue of Venus Landolina, a Roman copy of a 1st century BC Greek original, described by the French writer Guy de Maupassant in 1885, during a trip to Sicily, as “it is a woman as she is, as she is loved, desired and should be embraced”.
The Ancient Theatre of Taormina – it’s the second largest theatre in Sicily, after the Theatre of Syracuse, but is the most famous. After all, the view of the Gulf of Schisò and the Mount Etna makes this place magnificent not only when you enjoy a theatrical performance or a concert.
The stalls are dug into the rock, and, in ancient times, could hold up to 10,000 spectators.
- You can’t miss: the small temple on the panoramic viewpoint on the top of the cavea and which reminds you that the original structure of the Theatre was linked to a sanctuary overlooking, from this position, the territory of Taormina.
Giardini Naxos – first Greek colony in Sicily, it has an archaeological area about 40 hectares wide and the archaeological museum offers an overview on its history.
- You can’t miss: the well-preserved glass and alabaster funerary vases housed in the Archaeological Museum and which prove that a refined civilization settled here.
SICILY WHERE TO GO TO EAT
Neapolis Cafè – the cafeteria is located inside the Archaeological Park of Neapolis. Here I had lunch immersed in a magical scenery, savoring the local food and wine excellences.
The cafeteria is open every day, according to the timetable of the Park.
Ristornate Salvo a Porta Marina – in this restaurant in Syracuse I had dinner, with excellent seafood dishes, in a building of the fifteenth century with a vaulted ceiling atmospheric suggestive.
Giardini di Babilonia – in this restaurant, located in a beautiful corner of Taormina, I ate very well.
The dishes are well presented and made with high quality products.
The building is not just a restaurant but also houses an Italian school for foreigners.
SICILY WHERE TO GO TO SLEEP
Hotel Parco delle Fontane – this was my point of support for my weekend in Eastern Sicily where I stayed but I also had dinner one evening in the restaurant.
This is a 4-star hotel in Syracuse, in a 19th-century villa surrounded by a lush and recently restored park. Hospitality and dinner were excellent.
READ ALSO – Visiting Pompeii: what you can’t miss