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Syracuse, the pearl of Sicily

Deep blue waters by the angry god

Not everyone knows that the ancient Greeks had cities and colonies where today is Sicily, in Italy. Visiting the island one can see many ancient temples, statues and artifacts in museums dedicated only to that purpose. Actually they left us with many stories and myths situated in specific cities and places of the island, and this is the case of Syracuse, a city on the southeast coast of Sicily.

It was said that Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demetra, was gathering flowers close to Lake Pergusa, near where today is the city of Enna, when Hades, god of the underworld, appeared and kidnapped her. One of the nymphs that was on the lake reacted, gripping Hades chariot trying to save Persephone, and was turned into a source of deep blue waters by the angry god. The young Anapo, in love with the nymph, turned himself in a river, so he could be together with his beloved. The sources of the rivers Ciane and Anapo still exists, and the rivers unite in Syracuse before flowing into the seas.

The most famous myth of Syracuse, though, is the story of Arethusa, a nymph when running free on the woods of Peloponnese, was seen by Alpheus, that fell in love with her. Arethusa, though, was not in love with him, and tired of his insistence, asked for the help of the goddess Artemis, that turned her into a fountain. The fountain of Arethusa still exists in the island of Ortigia, in Syracuse.

In the Arethusa fountain and in the banks of Ciane river are present the only wild papyrus in Europe. The papyrus grow naturally only in Egypt.

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