Travels in Sicily


OMG, it’s time to head to Siracusa, and it is late afternoon! To the car, to the Autostrada (miraculously), and two hours into the dusk and dark to Siracusa, to our place on Ortigia, the old part of town, an island first settled by the Greeks nearly three thousand years ago. Getting into any place at night is a trick, and this was no exception, with quite a few wrong turns, one ways. After a rest on a rock hard mattress, we headed out through the streets to dinner, at A Putia delle Cose Buone, a “bolthole” of a space, whimsical decor, good food: pasta alla Norma (eggplant & olive sauce), swordfish, and an orange salad with olives and a dash of red pepper flakes. Very good, and the couple from Danville next to us made great dinner companions, exchanging traveling experiences, sharing antipasti. Being able to converse with someone, after communicating in very broken Espanitaliano, smiles, and gestures, was a relief, and a pleasure with such simpatico folks.

At Palazzo Giaracà we had an upper floor tombroom, with a window ten feet above us. After we got the AC to function, it was okay. In the morning, we headed to the Parque Archeologico by hopon/hop off bus to save our feet, but got stuck in traffic held up by a climate-change march by Siracusa youth (ironic to be on an HOV), so we hopped off and hoofed it through town. Of note at the Parque: a 16,000 (!!) seat Greek amphitheater, “Dionysius’ Ear”, and a Roman stadium. The latter had been raided by the Spaniards for building their infrastructure, but the amphitheater displayed itself dramatically at the top of a hill, and the clouds delivered a short sudden downpour for extra effect.

“Dionysius’ Ear”, so dubbed by Caravaggio, is a 23 meter high grotto of stone formed by quarrying for the rock to build the ancient city. 7000 Syracusans were kept prisoner in the quarry by Athenian forces in 413 BCE, and the Athenian ruler Dionysius is said to have used the grotto’s acoustics to eavesdrop on the prisoners. It is an awesome site/sight. I am sure Gaudì was there.

Back to Ortigia by the bus, and into the market, which was at the tail end, but not before we had the luck to have a sandwich made by a very nice salumni and cheese seller. That with a bottle of green tangerine soda, lunch. A slow wander into the older streets of the Giudecca (Jewish quarter), narrow, shaded, sudden reveals of courtyards, tiny piazzas, and…the sea, waving in the wind, from turquoise to ultramarine, with white crests crashing on the rocks. 

After tea and mulberry granita, it was time to try another bank to pay our fine, but too late!

Then Larry remembered that our new friends from Danville had suggested we ask the folks at Avis for help. So we did, and they did (“we try harder”). Small matter, big weight lifted. Went home for a nap.

Dinner of mussels and a pasta, and after a bit of a walk, gelato. More of a walk, a beautiful evening, way down the island to quieter streets, older buildings, a calmer sea.