A Food & Travel Blog

The Historic Ortigia Market – Food Central in Syracuse

08/05/2017 | By

Just has it has been for millennia, the historic Ortigia market is still the daily shopping centre for the residents of this ancient town.

ortigia market - zucchini flowers

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.

Sicilian citrus at Ortigia market

Fresh produce at ortigia market

Ortigia market - spices in the market

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. 

ortigia market seafood

ortigia market fishmonger

ortigia market fish

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.

Ortigia market oysters

fresh sea urchin roe at Ortigia market

Ortigia market Pachino tomatoes

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.

Ortigia market, dried tomatoes

Ortigia market, pre-packaged dried tomatoes

Home made tomato paste at Ortigia market

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. 😉

Bronte pistachios at Ortigia market

Ortigia market - ground pistachios

Subscribe to Lambs' Ears and Honey

Enter your Email
  1. Helen | Grab Your Fork

    You know I would have been all over this market. How amazing do the dried tomatoes look? And that tomato paste!

  2. Merryn

    Such a beautiful market filled with gloriously fresh food, I feel I was there with you, thanks for sharing 8)

  3. Maureen | OrgasmicChef

    I saw this and wondered what you were doing in New York. 🙂

    I swooned at all these photos – lucky you to experience all of this.

  4. Anna @ shenANNAgans

    Love your description of the tomatoes – shining like rich, red jewels. Everything looks wonderful, I do miss access to fresh food markets, so its fun I get to adventure with you. Now pass me a handful of pistachio please. 🙂