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Fonte Aretusa

Overview

One of Syracuse's most evocative places, rich in beauty and mystery, is in the heart of the city, overlooking the sea: an ancient freshwater spring – one of many once found on Ortigia – that bears the name of a major figure in ancient myths and whose legendary origin has fascinated poets, writers and travellers of all ages. In the beginning, the water, now brackish because of sea infiltration, flowed pure from the rocks. The semicircular basin, richly verdant with lush papyrus trees and animated by the numerous ducks (pàpiri, in Sicilian), dates back to 1843. Nearby, stands a statue by artist Biagio Poidomani entitled "Alphaeus and Arethusa". Three ancient tanneries, where water was channelled for the treatment of leather from the 18th century, have been uncovered near the spring. We are in the best spot in town to admire the spectacle of the sunset, magnificent and marvellous on this side of Sicily, bringing a warm hue to the houses and buildings by the sea. The Roman poet Ovid dedicated a work to the Greek myth of Alphaeus, son of the god Oceanus and Tetis, who fell in love with Arethusa, a favourite nymph of the goddess Artemis (Diana). To escape him, Arethusa made her way to Ortigia and turned into a spring, but Alphaeus, in turn, turned into a river and reached her by crossing the sea. According to another version of the myth, one day, while Arethusa was bathing in the river Alphaeus in the Peloponnese, the river god fell in love with her and, having assumed human form, pursued her. Summoned by Arethusa, Artemis turned her into a spring; so Alphaeus resumed the appearance of a river and opened up the ground, causing her to sink and to resurface in Syracuse, where, however, the determined Alphaeus also arrived, mixing his waters with those of Arethusa. The myth highlights the links between Syracuse and Greece or, if you like, between the Greek settlers and their homeland.

Hours

Sunday
10:00 am-01:00 pm
Monday - Thursday
Closed
Friday - Saturday
10:00 am-01:00 pm
Fonte Aretusa

Siracusa, a Ortigia, via Castello Maniace

Call +390931451111 Website

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