Staying in Taormina for a week, an intention of the holiday was to visit Syracuse. Initially thinking that we could go by public transport, we quickly realised that taking an excursion would be more practical. The excursion was organised through Thomson Holidays. We caught the coach at 7:30 am in the bus station and after collecting from 3 other hotels, we got on the motorway for the 2 hour journey to Syracuse. Our guide was Rosa Rizza who during the tour gave us much interesting information on Sicily especially the historical events that took place on the island. Rosa was very clear speaking which is often not found with holiday guides. We initially stopped in Syracuse by the archaeological Site. Rosa initially guided us around to the Greek Theatre where we had an explanation of it’s origin, development and use, prior to visiting the quarry where the stone for local buildings was excavated and on to the sacrificial site and then to the Roman Theatre. We were here about 2 hours before going on to the island of Ortygia, the original settlement of Syracuse. We parked close to the island and walked over the bridge and through the streets of the old town before reaching the square holding the cathedral. Going inside, Rosa told us of the building of the initial temple on the site to commemorate the successful repelling of a Phoenician invasion, leading on to conversion to a Christian church, conversion to a mosque and back again. It was proposed that we take a boat trip including lunch. Virtually everybody took up this proposal which cost 16 Euro’s each. This took us around the enclosed harbour/bay into which the Athenian fleet was lured to it’s destruction in 5th Century BC. The trip was extremely pleasant and the meal was simple, different pizza’s and accompaniments plus wine. The trip took about 1 ½ hours before returning to where we had boarded. We walked back to the coach for the journey back to Taormina. During the excursion, Rosa explained the history of Syracuse and the capture by the Romans after which the city was mostly destroyed, never again to recover it’s earlier prominence. The Romans were successfully repelled a couple of times due mostly to the war machines created by Archimedes but they managed to infiltrate Syracuse by dubious means. Archimedes was killed during this defeat. This information given by Rosa gave us quite an insight into the background and history of this fascinating island which had had such a dramatic, although bloody history. I would recommend this trip which gives an outline of a major part of Sicily's history.
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