Located on the eastern coast of Sicily, the Greek colony Siracusa or as we know it Syracuse, was founded in 734 BC. The 1st settlement was on the island of Oritgia, just off shore from “mainland” Siracusa. Named for the ancient Greek word for quail, the Corinthians thought the island resembled the shape of a bird. Because of its’ key geographic location surrounded by water, it was “visited” by ancient Romans, Spanish, Arab & Germanic civilizations. Each represented in the architecture, Baroque monuments, authentic traditions and of course food.
It’s hard not to become smitten with Ortigia; a daily cadence of morning coffee & late afternoon aperitivi, the surrounding Tyrrhenian sea, the daily golden hour with a brilliant descending sunlight. Add exploring the narrow streets & discovering a hidden courtyard treasure and the gracious hospitality of the locals. Then there’s the food; lunch, dinner & even breakfast were fresh, delicious and truly embodied Ortigia’s rich culinary traditions.
We were fortunate to tour the local Ortigia food market on Via Trento. A feast for the senses is an understatement; pungent aromas of wild oregano, the fishmonger’s sing-song local dialect, proudly displayed deep red tomato estratto, fresh field greens with a bite, local almonds, figs, pistachios & prickly pear worth the work to open & savor.Our culinary lesson included fresh caught fried fish, local cheeses & cured meats, an astounding array of amari liquors, capers, olives & spices, ricotta salata, classic spaghetti alla Norma & the local granita specialty.
Less than a mile long and only 657 yards across, the compact island of Ortigia is rich with +2,700 years of edible education, we can’t wait to go back for more lessons.