L'Approdo delle Sirene

Siracusa, Sicily, Italy Book from

Reviewed by Ros Belford
Shipshape B&B on the waterfront of Ortigia, the seagirt historic centre of Siracusa, with charming owners and roof terrace
Set on two sunny floors of a waterfront palazzo overlooking Siracusa’s little harbour, this family-run B&B is good value, has a great location and abundant breakfasts of fresh fruit and delectable pastries. The breakfast room and adjacent roof terrace planted with cacti and bougainvillea overlook the harbour.

But what really sets L’Approdo delle Sirene apart are the owners, mother Fiora Piccone and son Gianmarco: relaxed, cheerful, fluent in English and genuinely devoted to making their guests as comfortable as possible without being intrusive (they live in the apartment across the hall). They’ll make informed restaurant recommendations, introduce you to other B&Bs in Sicily, make sure that you're looked after if you get stuck, and hold cookery courses on request too, which could be the highlight of your trip. As for the eight rooms, they're fresh, spruce, simple and understated, thanks to the whitewashed walls, gleaming parquet floors and striped upholstery.

Highs

  • Well-priced waterside location on the edge of Ortigia, right across the bridge from the new town and handy for public transport
  • Friendly, helpful service with advice at hand on all aspects of Siracusa and Sicily
  • Breakfasts of homemade cakes, tarts, artisan pastries and carefully chosen fresh fruit, with fresh Sicilian cannoli on Sundays
  • Lunches, dinners (delicious) and cookery courses available on request from owner Fiora Piccione
  • Bikes on the house

Lows

  • Some rooms are a little small, only two actually have sea views, and attic rooms only have skylights
  • Décor isn't the latest word in style
  • Availability can be a problem

Best time to go

Spring or autumn are the best times to go. July and August can get extremely hot and busy. It's warm enough to swim in the sea until the beginning of November, and the weather can be splendid in winter.

Our top tips

Fiora and Gianmarco can organise guided tours of historical sites and local towns on request - they can tailor an itinerary to help you get the most out of your visit.

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
Family
Foodie
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 8
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
  • Elevator
Room:

Rooms

The eight light-flooded and high-ceilinged rooms, set on 2 floors, have polished parquet floors, wood-beamed ceilings, whitewashed walls, ensuite bathrooms with walk-in showers, and matching striped upholstery on bedspread and curtains that adds a nautical touch. The fabric in each room is different, with colour schemes ranging from blue and olive, or restrained stone and slate, to jaunty egg-yolk yellow and scarlet in the attic room, where we stayed. Unusually for Sicily, a kettle and a selection of teas are provided.

The most spacious room is room 4, on the corner of the building with 2 balconies; but rooms 2, 3 and 5, each of which has a little balcony, are also a good size. Rooms 2 and 3 overlook a tree-lined street; rooms 4 and 5 have sea views - and these are the ones to go for if possible. Rooms 1 & 6 have a courtyard view; the cheapest rooms are 7 & 8, the two attic doubles with a skylight window and no view.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is served in the glass-fronted breakfast room which overlooks the bay. In summer you can also take breakfast on the small roof terrace alongside. Every morning Fiora, a member of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina (and whose traditional recipes have graced cookbooks), makes a cake or crostata (a tart filled with fruit or jam), while Gianmarco buys fresh bread and pastries from a local bakery. Add hams and cheese, yoghurt, cereal, pancakes with maple syrup, hard-boiled eggs, and an array of fresh fruit, and you may not need lunch. Scrambled eggs can be cooked to order. Drinks include fresh coffee and tea, we had thick hot chocolate and you can also squeeze your own orange juice. On Sundays tuck into cannoli, tubes of crisp deep-fried pastry filled with fresh, sweetened ricotta.

Lunches and dinners cooked by Fiora are available on request, and offer a chance to sample typical dishes such as caponata, parmigiana and sarde a beccafico. True foodies should book one of her Sicilian cooking courses which include a trip to the market and learning about local wines.

Otherwise, ask for recommendations and try one of the many fish restaurants and traditional trattorie in Ortigia: Al Mazari near the Piazza Duomo is a favourite, we liked Dassena next door. Fiora's other son, Friedrich, has opened a charcoal grill & pizza restaurant, Piano B in the 'new town' across the bridge.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Wander around the pretty peninsular town of Ortigia, the historic heart of Siracusa, with its fabulous cathedral, Greek ruins, fortress, ancient buildings, narrow alleys and waterfront walks

  • Bikes are available for free, if you prefer to explore on 2 wheels

  • Book in for a cookery course with Fiora, who will introduce you "with passion and cheerfulness" to the culinary arts of Sicily

  • Embark on a boat trip around Ortigia

  • Visit the vast archaeological park on the "mainland" town (a 15-minute walk). It contains the remains of the ancient Greek and Roman cities (theatres, quarries etc). Time it right and you can see a play staged in the Greek theatre (May-June)

  • Enjoy lazy days in the coastal nature reserve of Vendicari, with its stunning beaches (some accessible on foot only) and bird-watching

  • Head off on a day trip to the Unesco-listed Baroque towns of Noto (the nearest, 45 minutes' drive away), Modica, Scicli and Ragusa

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome, and parents will appreciate the relaxed ambiance. There's nothing at the hotel for kids so it's best for a short stay for the sights of Siracusa (which children will enjoy). Note that only one room category (the two Attic Doubles) can take an extra bed or baby cot and that there are no bathtubs.

Family friendly accommodation:

The Attic Doubles, numbers 7 & 8, are large enough to take an extra bed or baby cot. These rooms only have skylights. You can also take numbers 6 (courtyard view) & 7 (attic) together as these are opposite each other with an extra door for more privacy.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement, see Rates.

Children's meals:

There's plenty of options at breakfast to satisfy the fussiest of eaters - fruit, yoghurt, cereal, pastries, cake, hard-boiled eggs and hams.

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Explore ancient ruins such as the Castello on Ortigia and archaeological park in the main part of the town
  • Tiny funfair 10 minutes stroll along the waterfront, great for younger kids
  • Older ones may like the Archimedes Museum
  • Take a boat trip
  • Go for the day to nearby beaches

Distances:

  • Airport: 1 hour
  • Hospital: 10 minutes
  • Shop: 2 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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Rates for L'Approdo delle Sirene