travel from Rome to Sicily
Isola di Ortigia Travel Blog› entry 6 of 20 › view all entries
Approximately seven hours had passed when we finally landed in Rome at around 9:00am local time. With a three-hour layover, we got a bite to eat in the airport and did a little window-shopping. Our 12:45pm Alitalia flight 17343 was then delayed and we didn’t actually board until nearly 2:00 in the afternoon.
The plane to Catania was smaller, cramped, and the air was hot as hell again. We had been sitting there parked for over an hour. The baby in the seat in front of me cried intermittently the entire time and I’m sure it soiled its diaper at least once. “This sucks,” I thought, “Get Me To Sicily!” We left the ground at 2:09pm, 24 minutes after the time we should have arrived in Catania.
Over Sicily at ten of three, I felt much better. I’d slept briefly, drank two cans of pineapple juice, and was cooler with a good strong AC vent blowing directly at my face. Thank God for that cool air!
One hour later, the plane arrived in Catania where we picked up our luggage and loaded it onto the bus. It felt like we were never going to get to the hotel because of all the traveling we had just done and there was yet more ground transportation ahead. One more hour, though, and we would finally be there. European Incoming Services took us via bus to Siracusa. The roads in Ortigia are too small to accommodate busses, so we transferred to a van before crossing the bridge to the small island.
We arrived at our inn, Albergo Domus Mariae on via Vittorio Vento, around 4:30pm. I felt in awe of how beautiful this one time convent was with its ancient masonry exterior and cozy charm inside. Although they didn’t speak English, the owner and the employees were very friendly and hospitable as they greeted us and showed us to our rooms.
Everyone had been traveling for such a long time, we were all hungry; and the airline food didn’t fill up anyone. The four departments met at 5:00pm for a pre-paid group dinner. The first course of our dinner consisted of wine and bread. While we waited for the main entrée, Dr. DeLaura introduced each of us from the School of Technology, and then each person from the other groups introduced themselves. Following the meal everyone headed out for a short walk to see the Cathedral in Ortigia. 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.
Along our walk toward the cathedral we passed a number of people strolling the narrow streets in small groups. Most of them were dressed in high fashion compared to what one might expect to see in Connecticut on a typical Saturday night. Fortunately, my buddy Kevin had given me a heads-up on Italian apparel before my trip, so I fit right in well wearing my new outfits of all black. I was thrilled to catch my first glimpse of a real Smart Car and posed for a photo beside it. After viewing the Cathedral and eating gelato (Italian ice cream) from a nearby parlor, we were all set free to explore the island.
Most of us went out to Ulysses’ the Irish Pub. That was where I meet Melissa, a student from the School of Business group. We began talking at the bar and she mentioned that I looked familiar. We proceeded to pick each other’s brains to figure out from where. Eventually we discovered that we live 3.2km (2 miles) apart and had met one time the previous August in my driveway when she stopped by with her boyfriend Mikey (with whom I shared a mutual friend in David) to load some camping stuff into his boat. I asked her if she was still going out with him and she replied, “Yes” to my chagrin. Having those connections, we sought each other’s company often thereafter and quickly bonded becoming great friends. We spent the rest of the night together exploring the island of Ortigia. On the way up the stars of a stone lookout platform, Melissa and I discovered a cavern in the structure and decided to venture inside. We found a small room at the end with a filthy bed and a louvered vent through which we watched the sunrise.