Day 19, 20, 21, 22, Siracusa, Sicilia

October 22, 2019

(Remember to click here or the title above to see the best quality images rather than just viewing from your email reader.)

It was about an hour and a half drive to Siracusa (Italian spelling).  I was relieved to reach the four lane freeway so that all the people that wanted to go 80+ MPH would not have to pass me on blind turns since I was only going 65 or 70 MPH.  This could turn into a rant about Italian driving. The bottom line is that I saw a lot of crosses with flowers on the side of the road and I witnessed a close call head on collision when some idiots (three vehicles at once) were trying to pass an 18 wheeler.  This Italian culture of speed and impatience on the highway was not attractive.

Siracusa is a very interesting city.  There are Greek and Roman ruins, medieval churches and buildings and museums to explore.  The fresh sea food and wine was fantastic. Here is a Google map link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/dYZ7tkE2B2nxEWWz7

The Greeks were the first to really settle and turn the area into a thriving metropolis (with the help of slaves).  Archimedes was born and killed by the Romans there. The City was equal in size and influence to Athens in the 5th century BC. It served as the capital of the Eastern Catholic Byzantine Empire in 663-669 AD. Here is a link to more information on the city’s history: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syracuse,_Sicily

There are three sections to this city.  The medieval old town on the Island of Ortigia, the Roman and Greek ruins on the hills, and then the more modern areas of the city.

You cross a small channel to reach the Island of Oritgia. Here are some photos in Ortigia:

This is the harbor that separates the old town from the rest fo the city.
A fisherman heading out into the bay.
Greek ruins of the Temple of Apollo
The water is incredibly clear and warm.
A 14th century fortification.

The Duomo di Siracusa, below, is the most important church in Siracusa. It was originally a very large Greek temple dedicated to Athena. While it is sad that the original temple was lost, at least some of it has survived. When the earliest Christian church was built the the temple could have been completely destroyed and quarried for materials.

More information can be found in the link below:

https://it.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duomo_di_Siracusa

Note the walls between the original Greek columns.

The above image is from inside the Duomo.   Note the gown the young lady was asked to wear before entering the Duomo.

I wasn’t sure this was the same young lady that was wearing the gown in the previous photo.

Saint Lucia (Lucy) is the most venerated saint in Siracusa.  She was martyred in 304 AD. It is said that in the 17th century the city of Siracusa was having a famine and after praying to Saint Lucia, a ship with no crew appeared with cargo of wheat and saved the city.  Every year in December there is a massive celebration of this event.

A biography on Saint Lucia can be found here (an interesting read): https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Lucy

More information on the celebration can be found here: http://www.bestofsicily.com/mag/art333.htm

More information about the chapel in the Duomo dedicated to Saint Lucia can be fount here: https://it.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duomo_di_Siracusa#Seconda_cappella:_La_cappella_di_Santa_Lucia

This chapel in the Duomo is dedicated to Saint Lucia. Her relics (bones) are on display above. Her statue used in celebrations is locked in a case behind her protrait.
This is a photo of a photo of her statue used in the celebrations. The photo was provided by the Duomo.
You can view the clip (above) of the celebration of Saint Lucia.

I went back to Island of Ortigia in the evening. At all times I felt safe. There was a great night scene with lots of people, outdoor dining, and wine bars. Following are more photos:

This is a typical menu of a nice resturant in Ortigia. The pasta with sardines and fennel sauce was delicious.
Back across the channel: This was the door to my hotel/B&B. After smacking my head a couple of times I finally learned to really duck going through this door.
My little room. It was clean, had a fridge and AC and met my needs.
This is a classic Italian breakfast. I picked up some bad habits. Yes, two hours later I would get hungry and need to buy a sandwich or a plate of pasta. As long as I was walking at least 5 or 6 miles a day I was burning it off.

The above establishment was my go to place to get a meal.  For five euro I could get a big plate of rigatoni in a rich tomato sauce with small chunks of pork that had an incredible sharp bacon flavor.  They had great pizza and hot sandwiches too. It was a working class cafe with about 4 simple picnic tables and bench seating. The bulk of their business was take out.  It was run by two ladies who couldn’t speak English, but they could cook. Their address is Corso Umberto I, 65, 96100 Siracusa SR, Italy.

Every morning this dog was perched here waiting for her owner. She was very shy but she would not budge from her perch. She was adorable.

The next day I walked the 30 minutes up to the historic Greek and Roman ruins.  Ancient ruins always stir my imagination and curiosity. I’m trying to find a common thread that binds everything in human history together.  I want things to make sense and have some kind of order to them. Like Einstein and Hawking trying to find the master model of the universe or poor Archimedes trying to accurately calculate the value of pi.  In the end, for me at least, it is about a good bottle of Sicilian wine and some well aged cheese with cured meats.

Below are photos of the Ear of Dionysius. It is located in an ancient limestone quarry used by the Greeks and Romans. There is debate about whether the cave is man made or a natural formation or both. I think the answer is both. Regardless, it has a long history. More information is here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ear_of_Dionysius

The  Archaeological Park of Neapolis includes the ancient quarry, the Greek amphitheater, The Street of Tombs and the Roman ruins. More details can be found here (you have to scroll to find information in this link): https://it.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parco_archeologico_della_Neapolis

Note the water source is from an ancient Greek aquaduct. More info on this is here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grotta_del_Ninfeo
Note the ruts in the road from ancient carts and places carved in the rock for offerings.
The Greek amphitheater was carved out of an ancient quarry in the 5th century BC. More information can be found here: https://it.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teatro_greco_di_Siracusa
The benches are rough due to erosion of the limestone by the rain.
The erosion of limestone by rain is quite severe.

Nearby were the ruins of an ancient Roman arena:

The Norman era church below caught my eye. It was built over an ancient Roman pool.

It caught me eye because of the foundation seems skimpy.
More information can be found here: http://www.antoniorandazzo.it/Monumenti%20Romani/piscina-romana.html

As an engineer and mathematics aficionado I took a special interest in learning that Siracusa was Archimedes hometown.

A statue of Archimedes showing his reflector invention that allegedly repelled enemy ships in the harbor.

Archimedes studied the equations of circles and parabolas and discovered on his own the foundations of modern day integral calculus.  I shake my head thinking what he could have accomplished with the tools we have today. I just recently saw an article about how the sun (instead of fossil fuel) could be used to produce cement from limestone.  Archimedes would have been tickled to read this: https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/19/business/heliogen-solar-energy-bill-gates/index.html

Here is a biography on Archimedes that draws a picture of his brilliance:  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archimedes

Archimedes, approximately 75 years old, was killed by a Roman soldier in 212 BC after a 2 year siege of the city.  The politics that triggered the war with Rome was as complicated. For more information on the siege and the fall and sacking of Siracusa see this link: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Syracuse_(213%E2%80%93212_BC)

Even though I spent four nights in Siracusa, there was so much that I did not see.  I could not spend too much time away from the hotel due to my problem with eating the DEVIL FRUIT in Modica.  My intestines were back to normal by the 3rd day, but it was a scary experience. Thankfully, I had only eaten one prickly pear or I would have needed to go to an ER for help.

The next city to visit is Taormina.

One thought on “Day 19, 20, 21, 22, Siracusa, Sicilia

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