Our plan for today was to take a daytrip to the town of Siracusa, located about 40 miles south of Catania. There is a regional train service connecting the two towns, but the trains don't run very often. We had a choice between 08.45 and 10.45 this morning, so decided to have a leisurely start to the day and take the 10.45. We left our apartment around 10am and walked towards Catania's main train station.
It was already baking hot, even in the shade. We got to the train station with plenty of time to spare and bought our tickets from the machine. As ever in Italy, the regional trains are really cheap and the trip to Siracusa - which takes just over an hour - only cost €6.90 each.
It turned out that we needn't have hurried to the train station because every single train on the departures board was delayed, including our own, which was due to arrive on platform 1. When we stepped out onto platform 1 I was surprised to see how busy it was, only to later realise that most of the people were waiting for a train to Rome... which was delayed by an hour and 50 minutes We were quite lucky in comparison that our train was only advertised as having a 10 minute delay, although that was gradually extended to 15 minutes and then 20. We had a change of platform, to accommodate a train from Messina which was also delayed, and eventually, around 11.10, our train finally appeared. Hooray!
There was no attempt to make up for lost time, as the train sat in the station for a bit and then made other, seemingly random, prolonged stops along the way. The journey took us through some countryside, then along a bit of coastline which seemed quite industrial, before finally arriving in Siracusa around 12.30. Better later than never I guess!
Siracusa, also known as Syracuse, is famous for having been an important Greek city in ancient times and was the birthplace of Greek mathematician Archimedes. Most of the sights of the town are located on the island of Ortigia where Greeks from Corinth originally founded the city. Today the city has spread out onto the mainland, which is where the train station is located, so we needed to walk from there to Ortigia.
There weren't many helpful signs to follow, but we knew we were on the right track when we came to a bridge across a small body of water.
On the far side of the water, we came to the ruins of the Temple of Apollo.
The temple is believed to have been built by the Greeks in the sixth century BC.
We walked through a pretty square with a fountain...
...and then began to make our way through the narrow streets of the old town.
It was a really beautiful town
We soon came to a huge square...
...which is home to Siracusa's cathedral.
The cathedral was built on the site of a Greek temple to Athena, originally in the 7th century, but significantly rebuilt after Sicily's big earthquake in 1693.
From the cathedral it wasn't far to the edge of the island. The beach looked incredibly stony, but there were still a fair few people sunbathing on it.
The water was beautifully clear...
...and we had some great views, both of the town and out to sea.
We found a lovely walkway to follow along by the coast.
Once again we found some really pretty flowers, which seemed to be flourishing despite how hot the weather was.
After a while we came to a little park which provided some welcome shade.
It was home to some enormous trees, which looked very old.
By this point we'd managed to do a circuit of the island and were back at the bridge where we'd started.
We headed back into the old town, now on the lookout for a place where we could get a late lunch.
After a bit of walking we eventually found a place with scenic views out over the sea.
We had some delicious pizza...
...followed by an americano, which came like this: an espresso, with hot water to dilute it
After lunch we walked back along the coast...
...crossing back over the bridge towards the newer part of town.
Our regional train back was supposed to be just after 4pm but guess what, it was delayed! It actually set off more or less on time, but after a few unexplained stops somehow still managed to arrive in Catania over half an hour late It was also incredibly hot and sticky, which made me glad that we're not relying on public transport for the entire holiday. Tomorrow we will be picking up our hire car and leaving Catania behind, heading towards the town of Ragusa.