Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi of Syracuse

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Things to do


Date of travel

October, 2018

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Having time to visit attractions at leisure gives a singular advantage: when tired after one day’s sightseeing you can stop and resume on another. This depends though on being able to buy combination tickets. Siracusa permits this fortunately.

We began at the Museo Paolo Orsi, named after the archaeologist who excavated the site at Villa Landolina, less than a kilometre from the Archaeological Park that demands a day to itself. The museum is ‘a bit of a maze’ according to the Rough Guide, which may be a reason for us growing tired. We had also walked there, and the weather was on the hot side of warm. Fortunately, midway between the museum and the park was a splendid restaurant, where we restored ourselves sufficiently to decide another day would do for the park.

For anyone visiting the area, Olivia Natural Bistrot in Viale Teocrito is highly recommended for its pasta alla Norma and various other good dishes. It also serves excellent wine.

So, the museum: it has eight sections, including the Villa Landolina site in the grounds. We managed six, having spent a long time in the coin collection. This is not usually a priority, but the museum does have a comprehensive display illustrating much of the history of Sicily. As in many such, medallions complement the coins, and these usually commemorate something of interest. There is also a display of jewellery from prehistory to the Roman era.

Sicilian prehistory is amazingly varied and is revealed in some items previously outside our awareness. Most impressive are doors from Bronze Age tombs at Castelluccio. There are also ceramics of a singular kind, with extended handle-like projections that seem to be for decorative rather than functional purposes. Sculptures of various sizes and of course tools and weapons abound. In contrast, the mother goddess suckling twins comes from the site at Megara Hyblaea. It was also good to see theatrical masks.

Some video displays illustrate the colonisation of Sicily by travellers from Greece, a link perhaps to the Odyssey, part of which features adventures in the Strait of Messina. The monstrous Gorgon is also commemorated in an architectural fragment.

Like other recent museums it is arranged along ramps for the convenience of people with limited mobility. Few staircases need be negotiated and there are lifts. One weak aspect is the lack of a good refreshment service but, as already noted the Olivia Bistrot is a short distance away and it is possible to return after lunch.


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