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Ionian Coast and Interior

Villas in east Sicily

Villas in inland Sicily

Ionian Coast and InteriorThe province of Enna, renamed “umbilicus Siciliae” (navel of Sicily) by Cicero, became an elegant resort in the Hellenistic age. The Romans erected a large number of villas with mosaic floors, as the renowned Casa del Saluto in Morgantina, welcoming the visitors with a “greeting mosaic” wishing good health. Equally remarkable is Casa del Ganimede. Villa del Casale in Piazza Armerina boasts an impressive peristyle and a 3500 square meters floor area of magnificent Roman mosaics. The fabulous Corridor of the Great Hunt, is the most pleasant and monumental part of the villa, showing mosaics of elaborate hunting scenes and exotic animals, but very popular is also the room with female athletes wearing bikini suitand playing with a ball.

Roman architecture achieved its climax in Taormina Theatre in (214 m above sea level). The monumental scene can boast Mount Etna as its background, and the Ionian sea framed within Corinthian columns and niches.

Romans left interesting traces of their time in the splendid city of Catania: the Flavian theatre (I century BC), the Amphitheatre (II century BC), with its bulk hidden among modern buildings in the historical centre, the Achilles’ Baths (II century BC) decorated with stuccos, the obelisk surmounting the Baroque statue of the elephant ('u liotru), once seat of the local circus.

The Corinthian city of Syracuse (784 BC) boasts a rich treasure of archaeological sites:

  • The Temple of Apollo and the Temple of Athena, both located in Ortygia island, Syracuse's original core. A few Doric columns belonging to the latter were later incorporated in the city Cathedral.
  • The Greek Theatre and Dionysius’ Ear, situated in the Neapolis Archaeological Site. The latter is a grotto hewn out of a quarry. It was given its curios name by Caravaggio, because of the unusual ear shape of its entrance.
  • The imposing Euryalus Fort, which was erected in 401 BC. Its innumerable underground passageways once linked various strategic points of the surrounding defensive walls (long 27 Km).

Important traces of the Bronze Age were found in the province of Syracuse:

  • Pantalica's Necropolis, with its huge rock honeycomb made up of 5000 burial chambers;
  • Castelluccio and Thapsos pre-historical villages. The former is renowned for the distinctive red and yellow ceramic vessels decorated with complex linear patterns, the latter for its long graceful jars.
  • Palazzolo Acreide Theatre, dating back to the III century is also worth a visit.

Villas in east Sicily

Villas in inland Sicily

The Roman bath at Villa del Casale - Piazza Armerina

Ancient Mosaic at Villa del Casale - Piazza Armerina

The Greek Theatre in Taormina

View of Etna from the Greek Theatre in Taormina

The Greek Theatre in Syracuse

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