Things to Do in Syracuse with Kids
We spent seven days in Syracuse with the kids and we are excited to share all the fun things we experienced in that incredible ancient town. There are more significant things to do in Syracuse than eating some sandwich, but this sandwich was one to remember. Actually, it was part of the art.
Best Sandwich in Syracuse
Plato wasn’t crazy when he imagined that the perfect state should be located in Syracuse. Syracuse is perfect for many reasons. I would start with the perfect sandwiches. If you want to really experience the spirit of the city from the locals perspective, you need to go to Mercato di Ortigia. This isn’t as big as some of the markets that we have been to in Sicily but it was very vibrant and had a variety of items for sale. A very special food spot there is called Caseificci Borderi, where we met the Michelangelo of sandwiches.
I didn’t know that making a sandwich could be an art. It is not only about the food, but the ambiance itself was magic. We all felt that this man made sandwiches with love and passion. He showed us that it is important to prepare food with good energy and vibrations. It took him almost 15 minutes to prepare our vegetarian sandwiches, but we didn’t die to wait for them because while making the sandwiches, he feeds people with his own hand-made mozzarella or baked ricotta. The arty sandwich is an explosion of flavors with ingredients that perfectly match each other. We especially liked the refreshing note of orange and oregano. Our masterpiece sandwich was a family-sized one and we all enjoyed this filling meal for only 5 euros. We are just afraid that after this sandwich, no other sandwich in life will ever be good enough.
Temple of Apollo
The ruins of the Temple of Apollo are just a few steps from Mercato di Ortigia, in the center of the city. Looking at stones and columns isn’t very interesting for the children. It is challenging to be the children’s tourist guide and evoke their interest in history. It is not enough to say, “Kids, this is the first of the great Doric Temples built in Sicily in the 6th or 7th century.” There was a picture of how the temple looked when it was first built, so we compared it to see what pieces were missing now, and there were a lot of them.
Fountain Diana was one of the most beautiful fountains we saw in Sicily. The terrible thing is that this stunning piece of art is located on a very busy piazza with a lot of traffic. It was a great opportunity to tell children about mythology. Hybrid creatures surrounding the sculpture of Diana — the goddess of hunting, moon, and nature — evoked their imagination. Half-human, half-fish creatures reminded them of mermaids’ boyfriends. They especially loved hippocampus; the half horse, half fish creature. We created a fun game to make up more hybrid creatures. In our new mythology, we had half-dog half-fish, half-snake half-pig and half-dad half-pig. Well, the last one is not far from the truth. We also ate well here.
Cathedral in Syracuse
We visited a lot of churches in Italy, but this one is extraordinary, located in the city’s historic core on Ortygia Island. This building embodies Sicilian 2,500 year-long history. It was built around an ancient temple and is one of the most interesting examples of an ancient temple, having been converted to a catholic church.
The columns of the original Greek temple are clearly visible. Entry fee is 2 euros. We are happy to support maintaining cultural heritage but we always feel kind of weird when we have to pay to enter some church. The cathedral is set in a magnificent square without any traffic, so we had a relaxing coffee in the famous cafe where they filmed a scene from the movie ‘Malena’ with Monica Belucci. The children had fun feeding pigeons with traditional almond cakes. It is miracle that Sicilian pigeons can fly after eating so many cakes.
Technopark Museo Di Arhimede
If we ask the children what their favorite place in Syracuse was (after Michelangelo’s sandwiches, of course), it would be Technopark Museo di Archimede. First, we watched a short animated video about Archimedes and his brilliant innovations. We could see all the reproductions of some of the most famous machines and ideas of that great mathematician. These objects absolutely stimulated the children’s curiosity. Most people take this stuff for granted, forgetting that these are the foundations of many modern objects. It is an interactive exhibition so our children had a lot of fun trying out things for themselves, especially the catapult and other war weapons.
Archimedes neighbors thought that he was crazy, but his apparent silly ideas and innovations defended them from the Roman invasion. After the one-hour long war, the children found some peace playing with Archimedes puzzles, which has endless combinations. It was frustrating for me because I couldn’t figure out any combination, but the children were more patient. Entry fee is 6 euros.
We already saw one Greek theatre in Taormina, but this one is our favorite. It is carved out of a massive block of stones and very well-preserved. Once upon a time, old and even young Greeks experienced catharsis watching famous Eshil’s tragedies on this stone stage. The theatrical culture at this place reached its peak with Aura and Pia’s performance.
The Roman amphitheater is also part of the archaeological park in Syracuse. It was only recently discovered and was built during the reign of Octavian August. It looked like they hadn’t cut the grass since Octavian time, so we had no choice but to do some gardening to get a better photo. We were proud of our hard-working children. It was their small contribution to great ancient history.
Visiting the famous cave called ‘The Ear of Dionysius’ was a special acoustical experience. Its entrance really does look like an ear. Each cave has a story. According to the legend, Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, created this cave and used it as a prison. Due to the exceptional acoustics, he could eavesdrop on his prisoners. The children were very excited to go through the dark cave. Even if it is only 65 meters long, it was a big adventure for them. They were impressed to hear the echo of their own voices, so they spoke loudly and made silly sounds. I was happy that finally, I could scream without any reason to. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!
If you travel to Sicily, you might find some inspiration in our family travel stories, because we try to look at things from the new point of view.