Fontana Aretusa or The Fountain of Arethusa is a natural freshwater spring on the island of Ortygia in Syracuse, Sicily. According to many, the city of Syracuse owes its origin to this rather peculiar spring that flows right down to the seashore. The belief is based on the fact that the origin of the city can be traced back to the Ortygia Island and the latter was chosen as a settlement primarily because of the presence of the freshwater spring.
More fascinating, however, is the legend associated with the spring. Since, according to Greek mythology, the goddess Artemis transformed her handmaiden Arethusa into this spring to save her from the insistent courtship of the Alpheus, son of god Oceanus. The fountain and the legend associated with it has in fact inspired generations of poets and writers (among them Ovid, Pindar, Virgil, Gabriele D'Annunzio, Alexander Pope and John Milton, to name but a few).
Legends apart, visitors will enjoy a visit to the small, semicircular pool created by the spring and the beautiful Belvedere surrounding the pond. Also, curiously enough, the pool has a collection of wild papyrus right in the center of it and this papyrus grove is believed to have grown there for millennia.