The Historic Ortigia Market – Food Central in Syracuse
Just has it has been for millennia, the historic Ortigia market is still the daily shopping centre for the residents of this ancient town.
The local fresh food market is a must-see for me whenever we travel and the markets in in Sicily, with it’s rich and colourful food history, were one of the main reasons I wanted to visit the island. We spent a few days in the historic centre of the city of Syracuse, Ortigia, on the south eastern side of Sicily. Ortigia, also known as the “Old City”, is an island accessed from Syracuse by a bridge and separates the city’s two harbours.
Like the rest of Sicily, the town has a long and rich history, reflected in the many historical buildings still standing – including a 6th century BC Temple of Apollo.
These days it’s a tourism hot-spot, but much of it remains residential and the locals are serviced, as they have been through the centuries, by the lively, friendly Ortigia market.
Seafood is high on the shopping lists of cooks in this region and there was plenty to choose from. We visited in the morning and I was impressed to see that, although it was a little early for me, I could enjoy a glass of wine with freshly shucked oysters or some sea urchin roe if I chose.
The fresh produce was vibrant and, even though it was almost mid-autumn, there were tomatoes shining like rich, red jewels everywhere. This region is noted for the Pachino tomato, prized for it’s sweetness and flavour and which enjoys a Protected Geographical Indication classification (PGI). These were available fresh, dried and prepackaged for tourists or reduced to a gloriously intense, thick, dark paste.
Another product famous to the region is the delicious Bronte pistachio and many of the shrewd market stall holders were kitted out with vacuum sealing machines. I was pretty thrilled about that as it meant I could bring some home with me. The Bloke, who was already laden down with hazelnuts from Piedmonte – not so much. 😉