From Taormina, we arrived in the afternoon in style with our car and driver, Gianfranco of Sicily Life Tours. We were thrilled with this boutique luxuriously decorated hotel, Algila Ortigia Charme; Address: Via Vittorio Veneto, 93, 96100 Siracusa SR, Italy; +39 0931 465186. During the check-in process, we were provided tour booklets with a map.
The reception that we were granted was very gracious. The manager took time to show us around the premises, so that we could take note of the business office available for guests; the section where the breakfast was served in the morning; several sitting areas where people could gather; a well stocked bar; a side bar area where there would be complimentary coffee, tea and wine served along with snacks.
Then we were escorted to our lovely room which was beautifully appointed, Italian style. Not only did we notice the typical amenities of free WIFI, satellite TV, A/C, hairdryer, etc., we also had a minibar with complimentary sodas, bottled waters and juices; and in addition, we could use the phone to call just about anywhere at no charge.
This is how The Algia Ortigia Charme Hotel describes their property:
“This exquisite 18th century building, named ALGILA ORTIGIA CHARM, is located in the heart of Ortigia…Its recent restoration has maintained the original well-planned structure…All rooms are furnished differently with antique furniture, four poster beds and refined interior decoration which all add to its distinctive Sicilian touch as well as Mediterranean features such as colorful bathroom tiles.”
“Set in a stately townhouse opposite the Mediterranean Sea, this upscale hotel is a 4-minute walk from the Temple of Apollo and a 10-minute walk from the Palazzo Bellomo.”
“The elegant rooms and suites, individually decorated with a mix of antique furniture, hand-woven rugs, wood-beamed ceilings and Sicilian-tile bathrooms, feature free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs. Upgraded suites add furnished terraces with hot tubs. Room service is available.”
“A breakfast buffet is complimentary. There’s also a refined Sicilian restaurant with stone arches and a fireplace.”
We were determined to take it a little easier during our sojourn in Ortigia. We were going to take a day plus to see the sights; sit at a café on the Piazza Duomo; saunter along the waterfront, narrow winding streets with shops and at least part of a day at the spa located next to our hotel.
The following write-up about Ortigia is from the blog, flavoursholidays.co.uk:
“Ortygia, known locally as Citta Vecchia is the small island on which the historical centre of Syracuse is built.”
“This old town is pretty old, dating back over 3,000 years. It was founded by Corinthian colonists in 734BC and soon flourished into a rich commercial town. Due to its geographical location at the heart of the Mediterranean, it was a strategic stronghold during ancient times.”
“The Romans invaded the city in 211BC when they breached the city’s defences (designed by Archimedes) and the city fell under the control of the Romans. The city remained the capital of Sicily until the Byzantines took over.”
“During the next 800 years, the city fell into a steady decline and succumbed to famine and plague. An earthquake in 1693 proved to be the rejuvenation of the city when it was rebuilt in a baroque style.”
The Patron Saint of Ortigia/ Siracusa is of major importance in the local community which is reflected in the June 28, 2015 Italian Tribune report indicating that two local churches were fighting for the possession of a Caravaggio’ painting, “Burial of St. Lucy.” Here are some excerpts from the article but I personally witnessed that this masterpiece, as of May 2016 is still at the Ortigia Church of Santa Lucia alla Badia.”
“Connected to the main town by a bridge, Ortigia is a warren of baroque streets and spacious piazzas. Here you will find Piazza Archimede which is dominated by the ornate fountain of Diana. If you carry on heading down the Via Minerva you will stumble up the main square, Piazza del Duomo at the heart of the island.”Both churches are dedicated to St. Lucy, the patron saint of Syracuse and both lay claim to the oil painting, which was completed in 1608, just two years before Caravaggio’s death.”
“The painting has switched locations over the centuries, but in 2006 it was awarded to the Basilica of Santa Lucia al Sepolcro in the Borgata district of Siracusa, with the custodians promising to guard it with security systems similar to those used by the Louvre to protect the Mona Lisa. Yet the security precautions never materialized, so four years later it was transferred to the Church of Santa Lucia alla Badia, in the rival parish of Ortigia, where it is admired by thousands of tourists each day.”
“The custodians of the church in Borgata are launching a campaign to get the painting back, with a petition that has so far been signed by around 2,000 people. Critics say, however, that the church is simply not suitable for a valuable painting, in part because it is damp.”