tour of Siracusa
Siracusa Travel Blog› entry 8 of 20 › view all entries
As I was getting ready for breakfast after no sleep, I was excited because this would be our first full day in Sicily. There was so much to see in such a short period of time. Along our walk from our inn through Ortigia, I found amusement in the tiny and unusual vehicles we passed. The three-wheeled pickup trucks were particularly fun.
We crossed the bridge into Siracusa where we met up with our tour guide, Eva. She gave us a spectacular tour of the local Archaeological Park. We passed through the oleander gallery to Latomie del Paradiso where we saw the old limestone mine.
Behind the theater we found Grotta del Ninfeo, a man-made arched cave enshrining a lovely spring waterfall, and Necropolis of Pantalica tombs. From there we entered Orecchio di Dionisio (Ear of Dionysus), an acoustically interesting cave that was like walking through a giant conch shell.
Our tour continued passed the remains of the Temple of Apollo and on to Piazza Duomo and into the Duomo (Cathedral) of Siracusa. We had visited the cathedral the night before, but this time we were able to go inside. Dim lighting from fixtures of black iron accented the ancient stonework arches and intricate alter. The priest, however, became agitated with something and began to yell from his pulpit. When I recognized the word “fotografie,” I realized he was shouting at us.
After the tour, my group headed back to the hotel. Several children recognized us as Americans as we passed by and they practiced what little English they knew by calling out to us, “Hi; hello, hi.
Italian meals, I found, take much longer than I was accustomed to. In Sicily, life is laid back; they really take their time to enjoy simple pleasures like lunch. For them, it’s a time to meet with family and friends to catch up and have long conversations. We must have been in the restaurant for two hours or more, but it gave us a good rest and the food was very good. Even when we were done eating, the staff took their time. I was surprised it took them a half an hour from the time we requested our bill until we actually received it.
We then visited the Cathedral in Ortigia and were able to go inside for a better look. Doric columns from the Greek Temple of Athene partially covered over with Roman Baroque masonry, were still visible and demonstrated the long history of this tiny island. Dinner later on, like lunch, was very relaxed and leisurely paced. Although the meals were pleasant and all of the food was extraordinary, I felt a bit uneasy about passing so much of our finite time sitting still to eat and socialize with fellow Americans when I could otherwise be out devouring the local culture.
Following dinner, I went out with my new crew of friends to experience the local nightlife. We went to two bars: Ulysses’ Irish Pub and The Atrium. There was a difference between the bars in Sicily and those back home. Firstly, Connecticut bars are dead on Sunday evenings unless there’s a big sporting event on TV. In Sicily, Sundays are dress to impress day. Everyone was in his or her best attire and the bars are among the most popular places to be. Also, some of the bars and discotecas don’t even get started until around midnight and remain open until as late as 6am. In Connecticut the most popular nights are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, and their hours of operation range from around 8pm to 2pm (actually 1:30 considering “bar time”). The atmosphere in the bars was high energy and a lot of fun. Out until the wee hours of the morning, I slept fast as soon as I got to bed.