Welcome back to Ask a Local, a series of posts in which I interview locals all over the world about what to see, where to go, what to eat, and how to fit in in their city or town. The following interview was originally published in my Italy guide.
Today I’m happy to introduce you to Davide Mauro, reader, writer, and native Siracusan here to tell us all about Siracusa – a laid-back hub of seafood.
First, tell us about you.
I was born in Siracusa and I have spent all my life here. Generally, I like to read books or write article or novels in my spare time. When the weather is good, I enjoy joining my friends to walk around town in search of old monuments.
If someone is visiting Siracusa for the first time, what do you recommend they see or do?
I recommend visiting Ortigia. You’ll need a car to really explore the area. There are many historical places like Pantalica, where you can touch Sicilian history, but you need a good guide or a local.
What neighborhoods or parts of town are best to stay in?
Feel the atmosphere of the country in Ferla or swim in the natural reserve of Vendicari. If you have time, you can go to Isola delle Correnti, the southern point of Sicily.
Let’s talk about day trips…what nearby places should everyone make sure to visit?
Don’t miss Ragusa, Modica, and Scicli, or the other baroque towns of Noto and Palazzolo Acreide.
Tell us about the local dishes. What should people try here?
In Siracusa, you can eat good fish everywhere. It’s also interesting to taste pizzolo, a kind of closed pizza from Sortino, near Siracusa.
What are your top three favorite bars and restaurants?
Try Bar Cassarino-Midolo, located at Corso Umberto I 86, for arancini (traditional fried rice balls), Bar Artale, located at Via Landolina 32, for sweet cannoli, and Pecora Nera, located at Via Malta 34/36, for a nice pizza.
Is there anything tourists do that locals find rude or strange? What can we do to better fit in with the culture?
Generally tourists are more polite than the Sicilian people; perhaps we should ask what tourists find strange about us!
What is the best way to meet locals and make friends?
The best way is to find someone on Couchsurfing.org, but it’s pretty easy to make friends in general here, because people are really friendly, especially with foreigners.
Why should people make sure to visit Siracusa?
Because Siracusa is the town where the genius, Archimedes, was born, because the first impressive influence of Greek style to the Roman Empire came with the conquest of Siracusa in 212 B.C., and because the first Christian church in Europe was built here after St. Peter’s passage.
What is the best place to go take beautiful photos of the city?
Pillirina: a place in front of Siracusa where it is possible to take pictures of the harbor of Siracusa and there is a nice landscape near the sea.
Anything else you want us to know?
“To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is to not have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything.” – Goethe