The province of Siracusa



The city of Siracusa
Photo © Wikipedia


Siracusa (Zip Code 96100), chief town of the province, is 217 Km. distant from Agrigento, 191 Km. from Caltanissetta, 58 Km. from Catania, 172 Km. from Enna, 154 Km. from Messina, 307 Km. from Palermo, 81 Km. from Ragusa, 390 Km. from Trapani.

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Ortigia: a view of bridge

The municipality has 127.224 inhabitants, its surface measures 20.408 hectares and its population density counts 623 inhabitants for square kilometre. It rises over a flat area, 17 metres above the sea-level.

The Town Hall is located in piazza Duomo n. 1, tel. ++39 0931-462355, toll free number 800299507 (only for italian residence). E-mail address is:

The main economical activities are agriculture, cattle breeding and fishing. Since 1950s a notable industrial development has been reported. It mainly produces   grapes, cereals, olives, almonds, vegetables and citrus fruits. There are also cow, sheep and pig farms.

The name of the town comes from the nearby march Sykara and received this name in the 8th century BC when the Corinthians founded it. Originally the town was built on the isle of Ortigia, populated  already in the 14th century BC by Siculians and Phoenicians. Later on many houses were built also on the mainland.

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Siracusa - La piazza di Ortigia

In the 7th and 6th century BC, Siracusa founded the colonies of Akrai, Casmene and Camarina. In 485 it was conquered by Gelone, tyrant of Gela, who defeated the Carthaginians in  480 BC in Imera. From  479 BC to 467 BC, Siracusa was governed by Ierone, whose successor was Trasibulo. Under his tyranny, the Siracusans rebelled and generated a democratic government.

In the 5th century Siracusa defeated the Etruscans, the local rebels of Ducezio and the Athenians, in a naval battle. In order to face the Carthaginians, the tyranny was introduced once again. After the destruction of Selinunte and Agrigento, Dionigi signed a peace treaty with the Carthaginians in the 5th century BC.

In the following century, Cartage menaced Siracusa once again, which was under a democratic government wanted by the Corinthian Timoleonte. The town asked Pirro, king of Epirus, for help. He succeeded and expelled the Carthaginians, but in 275 BC he was forced to abandon the town, as his government had become unpopular.

Photo © Turi Calvino 


During the centuries it was conquered by the Romans, the Goths, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Normans, the Genoeses, the Swabians and the Aragonese. It was dramatically damaged by the earthquakes in 1542 and 1693. In 1729 the plague spread quickly. In 1837, as it rebelled against the Bourbons, it lost its title of chief town (which went to Noto) and got it back in 1865. Recently, Siracusa has added lustre to its name, thanks to Michela Guarnuto, who was born here.

Amongst the most important monuments we mention the Dome (5th century), the old crypt of St.Marciano, the Castle of Eurialo (5th - 6th century), the castle of Maniace (13th century), the Greek Theatre carved in the rock, the Roman Amphitheatre built in Imperial period and Dionysus's Ear, an artificial grotto created after mining building materials, which looks like an ear.

Photo © Turi Calvino 

Siracusa - The Greek Theatre

Amongst the most illustrious personalities from Siracusa we mention: the great mathematician Archimede, the Classical poet Teocrito, Pope Stephen III and the physicist Antonino Lo Surdo, living last century, who discovered the radiations emanated by atoms.

A legend tells that when the Romans occupied Siracusa, Archimede was so busy with his calculations that he did not noticed them and was stabbed by a soldier.

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