- Infiorata di Noto and Primavera Barocca:
During this festival in Noto, thousands of petals are laid by artists along Via Nicolaci, to create a series of flower-petal tapestries – a must-see! There is also live music and exhibitions.May-June
- Greek theatre festival, Syracuse:
Performances take place in the Ancient Greek theatre in the archaeological site. Performances include classical Greek plays by the likes of Euripides, Aeschylus and Sophocles.July
- Ortygia Festival:
Cultural events that include plays, concerts, ballets, readings and more.August
- Maritime Festival:
This is a rowing regatta held around Ortygia and includes processions.December
- Festival of Santa Lucia:
This festival honours the city's patron saint and consists of a religious procession through Syracuse.
Syracuse offers two fascinating areas to explore: the archaeological site and the island of Ortygia. In the northwest of the town, the archaeological site (Parco Archeologico della Neapolis) is home to an impressive number of well-preserved Greek remains. A must-see is the Greek theatre that dates back to the 5th Century BC, where Ancient Greek plays are still performed in summer.
To experience more historical and cultural wonders of Syracuse, the island of Ortygia also offers many activities and attractions. The best way to discover the island's charms is just to wander through the streets and stumble across the many tourist sites that it has to offer. The Piazza del Duomo is a beautiful square, home to some iconic buildings - a must-see is the Cathedral built on the site of an ancient Temple of Athena.
You can also find a colourful street market, selling fresh local food. Don't forget to visit the delicatessen of rare quality foods, called "I Sapori dei Gusti Smarriti", which is at the end of the market. Here you will find the finest cheeses, hams and cured meats, many of which you will not find anywhere else in the world!
For something a little different, visit the Vendicari Natural Reserve. From here, birdwatchers can observe about two hundred different species of birds. The Ciane River is also a hotspot for wildlife, as well as canoeing and excursions by boat.
Noto is an impressive city of art and is famous for its Baroque architecture. The main tourist activity and the best way to enjoy this stunning city, is to simply wander round the narrow streets and take in the beauty of the many crumbling Baroque palaces, fantastical facades, houses and balconies. We recommend a walking tour round the town, to really understand why it has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
During the summer months, you will often find parties and fairs in the town park. If you are looking for a more relaxing activity, the best place for the evening "passeggiata" (stroll) is the public garden east of the centre.
For more action, try biking through the ancient ruins in Noto Antica. Biking back to Noto through canyons, orchards and olive groves is simply beautiful - seeing Sicily by bike is an experience you won't forget!
If you are a lover of wine, make sure to book a wine tasting too. In Noto you will find fantastic quality wine producers.
The Euro (€) is the official currency of Italy. Coins are available in 1 cent, 2 cent, 5 cent, 10 cent, 20 cent, 50, cent , €1 & €2 denominations. Notes are available in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, €500 denominations.
Travellers cheques are widely accepted for exchange or purchase in major cities, but in more rural areas, visit a bank to exchange them for Euros. Major credit cards are widely accepted here (though a limited number of merchants have American Express accounts) and ATM access is widespread. Exchange currency only at authorized outlets such as banks and hotels, and exchange only what you think you will spend in-country. Coins cannot be reconverted on departure. Save all receipts from any currency exchange transaction. You may be asked to produce them when you exit the country, and they are required if you intend to reconvert local currency.
You are not expected to tip on top of restaurant service charges, though leaving a small amount is common practice. If there is no service charge, you might consider leaving 10%/15%, but it is not obligatory. In bars any small change is left as a tip. Tipping taxi drivers is also not mandatory but suggested.
ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE FORMALITIES
Travel documents are your responsibility. In general you should have:
- A signed, valid passport that will remain valid for at least 6 months beyond the completion of your trip. Your passport must have enough blank pages (excluding amendment pages) available for entry and exit stamps issued when entering and exiting immigration points.
- Visas are required for certain nationalities and you are strongly advised to check your status allowing plenty of time for visa application.
In general, the climate on Sicily is very mild with little difference between the various provinces. The summers are hotter on the coast and in the valleys than in the hills. It rarely rains in the summer months. The average temperature varies between 27°C and 35°C and can even reach 40°C and more during the summer. Spring and autumn are rainy and mild, however, there are still plenty of dry and sunny days. Even during the winter, the temperature rarely falls below 13°C. By May there is less rain and the days become longer with up to 10 hours of daylight. The average temperature in spring is between 19°C and 24°C, in autumn between 21°C and 24°C. The winter months alternate between rain and sun with an average temperature of around 10°C.
It is advisable to contact your doctor before you travel if you have any specific health concerns and take out appropriate travel and medical insurance.
Electrical service in Italy is supplied at 220-240 volts/50 hertz - a converter/adaptor may be required.
There are some important rules of the road:
- Traffic drives on the RIGHT.
- At crossroads drivers coming from the right have priority excluding crossroads with traffic signs/lights.
- You should always be carrying in the car your driver's license accompanied by the International Driving Permit, the car insurance papers and ownership (rental) papers.
- The minimum driving age is 18.
- It is compulsory for the driver and front-seat passengers to wear seat belts, and seat belts must be worn in the back where they are fitted. Children under 12 must travel in the back seats, unless the front seat is fitted with a child restraint system.
- Headlights must be on all the time except if driving in a city during the day with good visibility.
- In the event of a breakdown a red warning triangle must be displayed in the road.
- National speed limit is 50kmh (31mph) in towns, 90kmh (56mph) on secondary non-urban highways, 110kmh (68mph) on dual carriageways, 130kmh (80mph) on motorways. Speeding fines: Euros 30 - 300.
- For use of the highways it is invariably necessary to collect a ticket at toll booth marked "biglietti" before entering the highway. DO NOT pass under the lanes marked Telepass. Pay the toll at the exit. Payment can be made by coins or by credit card.
- There are strict laws concerning drinking and driving. Blood alcohol levels must not exceed 0.05%.There are random breathalyser tests carried out regularly by the police.
- In many large towns, the historical town centre is subject to traffic restrictions (authorised vehicles only may enter) indicated by large white sign with a red circle saying "Zona a traffico limitato".
- Street parking is organized and designated with signs and by the colour of the lines for the parking spots. The colour of the lines on the parking space indicates the type of parking; white is for free parking, blue is for paid parking, yellow is reserved for special use.
- Signs will tell you if you are required to pay or to use a parking disc to time your parking (more details below). In most regions, blue lines mark paid street parking. There will be a payment machine nearby. Place the receipt from the machine on the dashboard.
- In many towns, white lines mark free parking spots on the street but they may be limited by time. The closest parking sign will tell you if you must set your parking disc to show when you arrived. Set your parking disc to the time you parked and display it in the window. You must return within the maximum allowed time.