WHEN STONES SPEAK
The Latomia of Capuchin is an unmissable place to visit.
It is located on the East side of Siracusa and originally it was a quarry, which provided for centuries the raw materials needed to built the ancient city.
Over ages the vegetation got the better of all the area. It became inaccessible, also due to its extreme depth, so it was used as wartime prison; then was converted in a place of worship, for pagans and Christians as well. Still today are visible numerous underground burial chambers and graves, proof of the sacredness of this site.
In the early 19th century the historian and archaeologist Giuseppe Maria Capodieci wrote about when the University of Syracuse donated the Latomia to the Capuchin monks in 1582: they built a fortified monastery on top of it; moreover created a huge and thriving vegetable garden and planted trees and greenery inside the area. This garden was always been really important, not only because of the rarity of the trees species, but also for their height: some of them are almost 20-30 meters high, due to necessary research of the sun which shone down just few hours a day.
Nowadays some centenarian poplar trees survived, and have been represented for centuries by international artists and travellers, participants of the Grand Tour, like Jean-Pierre Houel who expressed his admiration for this historic garden saying “nothing is more fascinating in Siracusa than the Latomia…”.
In 1866 after the Church property confiscation law, the Latomia became public property and has been heritage of the city of Syracuse since then.
Piazza Cappuccini , Siracusa, SR 96100
November 2015 – March 2016:
April – October
Full Ticket: € 5,00 (attività didattica)
Reduced Ticket: € 3,00
(Under 18 / over 65 / Families / Schools / Teachers / Journalists / Military and Law Enforcement)
Cumulative Ticket: € 10,00
(School groups / groups of pilgrims)
The Latomia, or Quarry, of the Capuchins is at the extreme north-eastern edge of ancient Syracuse. Its distance from Ortygia makes it inadvisable (but not impossible) to walk here, especially if you have a limited amount of time to tour the city. To get here by car, take the Riviera Dionisio il Grande, which skirts the coastline, directly to Piazzale Cappuccini. There is also a bus for those without a car.
The structure of the area, which has been excavated for tens of meters below the surface, features stairs and sloped areas that, unfortunately, represent architectural barriers and do not facilitate the visit of persons with mobility problems.
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Entrance to the Latomia dei Cappuccini with guided tour. The oldest stone quarry (8th century BC) used by the Greeks for the extraction of stone blocks, used for the construction of the Temples. Transformed into a lush garden in the 1600s by the Capuchin Friars.
Walking down suggestive back-roads and paths, you’ll be surrounded and enchanted by stunning beauties: huge stone pillars support massive stone blocks, and secret and mysterious caves turned into perfect natural theatres. Some of that man-made caves still show the traces of ancient wells used by Capuchin monks to drew water and irrigate their gardens. The walls of the quarry as well still show the signs of the techniques used to extract the white limestone rocks. Then just in the middle of this immense natural park, there are two huge rock pillars; one of them looks like a crocodile head with its jaws wide open.
Up until the 1970s, the Latomia of Capuchins was one of the main city’s attractions, a place where you could spend an evening, in particular in the beautiful and natural “Teatro di Verdura”. It used to be the stage of some representations realized by the same actors whose play during the Classical performances at the Greek Theatre, for example acted fine artists such as Vittorio Gasmann, Elena Zareschi, Annibale Ninchi and so many others.