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Syracuse from the Sea

I like to see this ancient city the way the Greeks first came upon it -- from the sea. Motor launches operated by Compagnia del Selene (tel. 0931-791033; www.compagniadelselene.it) take you on a panoramic trip ★★ around Porto Grande and Ortygia. It lasts an hour, and the scenes of the ancient ruins are evocative and inspiring. The most memorable boat trips occur around twilight, when the monuments are floodlit.

The Tears of an Abandoned Mistress

One of the most evocative boat rides in and around Syracuse is along the River Cyane, 5km (3 miles) west of the city along Via Elorina. From May to September, a 2-hour boat trip can take you to the source of this river. Here you will see a pool that, according to legend, was formed by the tears shed by Cyane, a nymph attending her mistress, Persephone, who was abducted by Hades (Pluto in Roman mythology), leaving Cyane alone.

Along the way you'll see clusters of papyrus plants. The original plants were a gift from Ptolemy to Hieron II. The boat also goes by the meager ruins of Olympeion, a temple erected at the end of the 6th century.

Boat rentals cost between 8€ and 15€ per person, depending on the number of passengers. For tickets and information on departure times, call tel. 0931-69076. To reach the departure site, take bus no. 21, 22, or 23 from Piazza della Posta and get off at Ponte delle Fiane.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.