Siracusa, Noto, Modica, Sicily

By Ali Karim
This post is part of a series called Sicily Oct 2017
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Siracusa

Next day, we drove to Syracuse (called Siracusa in Sicily). Siracusa is another old fortified town, and the original town was built on the island of Ortigia; and we were staying on this island of Ortigia, at the B&B Globetrotter Siracusa. We drove into Ortigia, and parking was a real issue, as parking is restricted to residents in the center of Ortigia (We discovered that in Sicily, the parking spots are designated with colored markings, where white is free, yellow is for residents only with permit, and blue is paid parking.), so we drove to a parking lot near the pier and parked our Fiat there (10 Euro’s for 24hrs).

We walked towards the center of Ortigia where we knew our B&B was located, and on the way, came across a fish and vegetable market near the pier.

Chestnuts and Prickly pears
Chestnuts and Prickly pears
Fish for sale
Fresh fish for sale
Street seafood was very popular
Street seafood was very popular
Tomatoes galore
Tomatoes galore
Spice bazaar
Spice bazaar

The market ended at the ruins of the temple of Apollo; and across that was the street where our B&B was supposed to be at. We found the B&B, which was on the 2nd floor of an apartment building. Giovanni was the owner, spoke good English, and after settling down, he recommended what we should sight see and where we should go eat. Since it was lunchtime, he recommended Borderi Gli Artistri, a famous sandwich shop which was in the market where we had just come from. Since Ortigia is a small island, everything is close by, within 10-15 minutes walking distance.

So we walked back and found Borderi, and Giovanni was right, it was popular and had a good line up of patrons. The owner of this shop was making the sandwiches himself, and making a show of it for his customers.

See video of his showmanship below.

We ordered one veggie sandwich (5 Euro) and shared it, as these sandwiches were huge; given that he put in 6 types of cheeses, and lots of vegetables. After lunch, we walked around Ortigia, visiting the magnificent cathedral (rebuilt over old Greek runs); the Jewish quarter, the Arab Quarter etc. Most of these areas seemed similar to each other, with little difference in character; so I assume that at one time, these quarters were different & unique, but not anymore.

Piazza near our B&B
Piazza near our B&B
Back alleys of Ortigia
Back alleys of Ortigia
Grand cathedral of Ortigia
Grand cathedral of Ortigia, built on the foundations of an original Greek temple
Alleyway restaurant; ready for the evening dinner trade
Alleyway dining; ready for the evening dinner trade
Main square of Ortigia
Main square of Ortigia, all paved with marble
Our B&B in Ortigia
Our B&B in Ortigia

For dinner, we sat in an outdoor café drinking more great and cheap wine people watching; and then headed over to Aziz Restaurant, for a change. This was again recommended by Giovanni, when I asked him for an Arab style restaurant (due to Arab Quarter). Aziz himself was there, running the restaurant with his family. His daughter served us as she spoke English. Turned out that Aziz was Moroccan, having moved to Sicily 20yrs ago; married a Sicilian, and opened his Arabic restaurant, serving kebabs, shawarmas’ and of course, Tajine. His restaurant stayed open late and attracted the younger crowd, as his was closer to a “fast food” and cheaper restaurant. We paid 18 Euros for several kebabs and shawarmas; very reasonable. The food we had was excellent, and the change from pasta was well worth it.

Walking back, we came across large crowds everywhere, walking along the sea wall, gulley’s, and the squares. Turns out that since it was Saturday night, most people were out and about socializing. There were youngsters, families, and older people all enjoying the evening out 🙂

Next day, after a good breakfast from Giovanni (continental again); we set off to drive to Noto, Modica and other nice medieval towns nearby. All these places are closeby, so the distance is not huge, but the roads are narrow and winding, so it takes about 45mins to get from one town to the next; with nice scenery along the way.

Our first stop was Noto, where being Sunday, parking was free. So we parked and walked over to the famous cathedral of Noto; set high and mightily on a hilltop opposite the municipal offices

Street scene in Noto
Street scene in Noto
Street scene in Noto
Street scene in Noto. Note that the streets are all paved with marble
Street scene in Noto
Street scene in Noto
Street entertainment to music
Street entertainment to music
Majestic cathedral
Majestic cathedral
Love these old Fiat 500’s
Love these old Fiat 500’s
Cathedral
Another Noto square, complete with church

After Noto, we took off for Modica; another 40minutes drive away. Modica is set on some steep hills, so got some interesting shots.

Modica town
Modica Alta
Modica town
Steep housing, Modica
Modica town
Modica streets and alleyways
From Modica Cathedral
View from Modica Cathedral
From Majestic cathedral of Modica on hilltop
Majestic cathedral of Modica on hilltop
From Majestic cathedral of Modica on hilltop
Another random church while we were walking around Modica

We then drove back to Siracusa via several small towns; and once back in Siracusa, parked the car at the parking lot for the evening. After freshening up at the B&B, we headed out to Putia restaurant, a typical Sicilian restaurant for seafood and wine (again recommended by Giovanni). We had to wait outside the restaurant for a table as it was small and busy. The wait was well worth it as the meal was delicious as usual in Sicily

Putia restaurant
Putia restaurant

I have to say the food & wine in Sicily has been excellent so far.

Trip map so far
Trip map so far

Off to Agrigento tomorrow

This entry was posted in Europe, Italy, Sicily Oct 2017

5 thoughts on “Siracusa, Noto, Modica, Sicily

  • AmirT November 11, 2017 at 6:49 pm Reply

    Thanks for sharing Ali.
    ps: End of Aug thru 19 Sep..we made to Istanbul, Turkey…Dushanbe and Khorog in Tajikistan.

    • Ali Karim November 14, 2017 at 11:05 am Reply

      Hi Amir, so glad you were able to make it to Turkey and Tajikistan; we need to talk as Tajikistan is on my bucket list; and we have not yet made it there.

  • Nasir November 15, 2017 at 8:44 am Reply

    I guess there were no Mafia in Sicili as we are led to believe..

    Did you see any Iraqis who came over instead of going all the way to Russia… Did you feel discrminated since you were the only
    brown people ?

    • Ali Karim November 15, 2017 at 8:47 am Reply

      THanks Nasir, Did not get any evidence of Mafia, but I am sure it still exists.
      No, did not see Iraqis’ there, but did see a small number of Africans; who have come across as refugees.
      We did see a lot of Bangladeshi’s particularly in Catania; all tending convenience and grocery shops. THey told us that there are about 3,000 Bangla’s in Catania and a smaller number of Panjabi’s; though we never saw any Punjabi’s while we were there.
      All of them speak Italian 🙂

  • mahamud jinnah November 15, 2017 at 8:48 am Reply

    Hi Aly
    Sicily is now on my bucket list. Looks great. Love the marble paved streets and the great food.

    Thanks for sharing
    Mahamud

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