Studying at EXEDRA on the island of Ortigia is like being on a very special campus, where everything is close at hand. Ortigia is a small, friendly community that welcomes international visitors and immediately makes them feel at home, so students can genuinely experience the local lifestyle first-hand.
By far the most important events in the Syracusan year are the Feast-days dedicated to the patron saint Santa Lucia or Saint Lucy.
In May and December, the city celebrates Lucy with processions and fireworks, and special dishes of traditional ‘cuccìa’ – boiled grain with sweet ricotta and chocolate chips.
The Festivities of the Immacolata in December and San Sebastiano in January are more specifically linked to Ortigia, so students might find themselves following the town-band at 3.oo in the morning in honour of the Madonna, or bidding for fish-shaped bread in the square to celebrate Saint Sebastian – whatever you do, the main thing is to take part!
Culinary traditions are very strong in Sicily, so you can learn how to make the classic Sicilian cavateddi pasta or the original ‘take-away’ street-food – arancini. You learn to appreciate the time it takes to prepare traditional food, the seasonality and freshness of the local produce, and how recipes are associated with specific events.
We can help you organise outdoor activities such as cycling, or arrange visits out of town through our trusted taxi company. If you are interested in volunteer work and ‘paying it forward’, we will put you in touch with local organisations who are delighted for students to get involved.
Public Transport to/from the local airport of Catania Fontanarossa
Siracusa is well-connected to Catania Airport and city by public bus, with an almost hourly service during the day. The journey takes around one hour.
Travelling around Sicily
The main cities of the island can be reached from Siracusa by public bus and/or by train, however transport is slow and not always reliable. Smaller cities and towns can often only be reached by private transport. EXEDRA can recommend reliable local companies.
Transport in Siracusa
The center of Siracusa is all within fairly comfortable walking distance of Ortigia. There is a local bus service that links the island of Ortigia with the rest of the town. Minibuses leave fairly frequently for the archaeological park of Siracusa, and town bus service covers the rest of the town. Bikes may also be hired locally.
Students under 25 will not be able to hire cars in Italy.
You may be permitted to hire bicycles, depending on your home university’s policy on student transportation.
Living in Ortigia is a unique experience, one that plunges you into a world that is finely balanced between past, present and future. Everything is within walking distance, so the pace of life is less frenetic and you don’t need to worry about parking or public transport. Although the buildings of the historic center are centuries-old, the EXEDRA Mediterranean Center and most of Ortigia now have wifi coverage. To get the most from the experience, we advise you to adopt the Sicilian lifestyle for the duration of your stay – savouring the local specialties, absorbing the beauty of your surroundings and taking time just to enjoy them – remember, you can always run down to the waterfront for a quick dip in the Summer, or simply admire the sunset over the Great Harbour at any time of year.
Ortigia and mainland Siracusa have countless restaurants, trattorias, cafes and snack-bars for you to choose from, not to mention the pizzerias and gelaterias. Apart from Italian and Sicilian cuisine, you’ll also find other choices such as French, Chinese and Mexican, so you can enjoy a variety of foods at a variety of prices.
Although Ortigia doesn’t have any sporting facilities, it has the sea! The road circumnavigating the island is quiet enough for running, and there is a gym about 20 mins walk away. On mainland Siracusa, there is a lovely coastal cycle-track, tennis courts, and a 5-aside football pitch that can be hired by the hour.
The main cultural event every year is the festival of Greek drama in the Greek theatre in May and June, but throughout the year there are other events such as exhibitions, concerts and the Ortigia Music Festival. The recently-restored local theatre holds plays regularly and you can see a traditional Opera Dei Pupi Puppet show in the Giudecca quarter of Ortigia.
On-site support for all students is the hallmark of a quality program, however, diverse students may face unique concerns when they are in Italy that other students may not. We aim to ensure they have the support they need on-site so we can facilitate a positive learning and life experience while in Sicily.
Ortigia is a safe place for students. However, during orientation we advise all students about the potential risks of living here and how to protect themselves. We stress the need for cultural awareness and a sense of responsibility. If there are any issues with safety or security, EXEDRA Staff are on call 24-hours to assist and advise students and faculty.
Often the long journey, the change of climate, diet and lifestyle, jetlag etc, take their toll on students’ health. Students will receive all the necessary support from EXEDRA staff who will accompany you to the pharmacy, the GP or specialist doctors, or to the local A&E in more serious cases, and do their best to alleviate the health problems as rapidly as possible.
Our goal is to make students feel at home and a part of the local community.