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The south-eastern corner of Sicily has been the desired land for centuries, millennia even. It promised well-being, expansion and development for Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans and the Spanish. Then and now, exiles of all ages found refuge and welcome, merchants created commerce, noblemen founded cities while others stimulated innovation in agriculture, art, town-planning, social-life and culture. This is where not only the history of Sicily began, but also the history of much of the Mediterranean area, studied, analysed, protected and handed down to us by great archaeologists like Paolo Orsi, Luigi Bernabò Brea and Giuseppe Voza.
Today, the desired lands around Siracusa are an extended museum, a permanent open-air exhibition, an uninterrupted account of extraordinary historical and archaeological sites that alternate with wild, untamed landscapes or act as a contrast to the unsettling mix of architectural styles and urban development. This is why there are two entries in the Unesco World Heritage List found in Siracusa and the province; Siracusa and the Rock-cut necropolises of Pantalica which links the extraordinary importance of the ancient city to the more than 5000 tombs carved into the rock-face of the Hyblean plateau; and the Late Baroque Cities of the Val di Noto which includes Noto and Palazzolo Acreide

Pindar called Siracusa “the greatest of cities”, and it truly was, both under its tyrants in the Vth century BCE, and when it was the capital of the Eastern Empire. However, during the last century, the mirage of modernity and wealth didn’t stop the construction of industries on the doorstep of the city or encircling the site of Thapsos, Sicilian capital in the Bronze Age around 1400 BCE.

For over a century, Siracusa has been one of the principal centres of cultural tourism. For much less than that, it has been a center for tourism for pleasure, while for about fifty years, it has been the focus of a different sort of “tourism”; emigration for work and industrial travel during the years of intensive exploitation and theft of water and the value of its geographical position, halfway between those countries producing petrol and those consuming the products of its refining.
So the traveller, attracted by the incredible heritage of its history, culture and natural and man-made landscapes of rare beauty, is left dumbfounded by the petrochemical landscapes of Augusta and Siracusa, and may be tempted to take refuge in less violent itineraries. Or perhaps, when he discovers that next to the smokestacks, there is an extraordinary nature reserve, he’ll want to look closer and try to understand the surroundings and the present reality.
We'll write of the monuments of course, but also of the passion of artists, musicians and designers, the charm of historic shops, or the century-long activity of INDA at the Greek Theatre. We'll describe the Spirit of the city, stories of volunteers and social projects, the commitment of young people trying to build a future here, and the asoociations that work with children and for equal access for all. We'll whet your appetite with the Tastelands, food and wine culture, taking you to meet producers and their workplaces.
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