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The island of Ortigia is the historical heart of Siracusa. There are fewer archaeological sites exposed to view here (the island has been heavily built-up ever since the time of the Greeks), but this is the part of Siracusa you're likely to be wandering around after you've 'done' the mainland points of interest.

The island is a pleasant place to wander, and much of its charm lies in wandering down the narrow medieval lanes, past romantically-crumbling Baroque and medieval palaces and churches. A walk around the perimeter of the island is a good way to begin to get your bearings. With a map and a guidebook you can locate individual buildings of note, such as Palazzo Montalto (under restoration), but it's just as much fun exploring for yourself and discovering your own favourite places: abandoned palazzi where weeds and bushes swarm over the dilapidated balconies, corners where you catch glimpses of sky through once-grand windows, carefully-tended cactus plants, seafront churches, picturesque alleys and so on.


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