Getting Greek and Going Baroque in Siracusa

Siracusa Travel Blog

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The Roman Amphitheatre. No charge for this one, but they charge for the Greek one within the same archeological complex.
Wednesday (9/30/09)

We all got up and headed to Siracusa after breakfast. Liz, Mags & I took turns driving, and it was harrowing today. Driving here really does suck. The autostrada is fine, it’s just finding your way around the cities, finding places to park, figuring out how far it is to the next site, do we have to park again or can we walk, getting through mid-town traffic, listening to the dueling GPSs (Dad’s Garmin, Caroline, and our British-sounding Magellan, Marjorie), everyone in the car either telling you how to drive (not that I blame them - there are cars coming from everywhere - just as harrowing for passengers), or not telling you where to go when you need direction (the Sicilians will put 20 signs on one signpost and you can't read them in time to figure out where to turn).
My folks in front of the Roman Amphitheatre
..my neck is SO stiff from the stress.

We got to the Greek and Roman amphitheatres, parked in a field where some entrepreneur had set up shop and started charging folks to park (we didn't feel like driving through the city any more and looking for the official parking lot), and checked out both in the heat of the afternoon. We were told that my folks could get in free due to their very advanced age (Kidding! They're in their late 60's), but when we got to the ticket gate, they said the free old fart tickets were only for members of the European Union. However the ticket counter was a helluva walk, so my Dad charmed them into letting them go in free too.

100 photos later, we got back in the car to go to the Archeological Museum in the middle of town. I wasn't thrilled because it meant driving more in the middle of the city, which is, as I may have mentioned, really nerve-wracking.
At the entrance to the Greek Amphitheatre (we never found out the purpose of this building)
It took us forever to find it, and everyone was getting cranky. When we did find it, and the elusive entrance, it was a very modern building, and I think Liz and Mags really enjoyed it, but I can only see a limited amount of artifacts (or museums, etc. - I have a 5-year-old's attention span) and my feet were hurting, so I zipped through it and sat down and texted the relatives once more to try to get information on who would be coming to dinner on Sunday.

Then we drove across Siracusa to Ortygia, which is almost an island jutting out of Siracusa. We had great parking karma (yay!) and found a beautiful parking spot on the ocean (not only convenient, but it had a view!), and immediately sat down at the nearest restaurant, which was a little touristy, but the food wasn’t bad.

I’m getting annoyed with the money situation here.
Liz and Mags at the Greek Amphitheatre
My bank card doesn’t seem to work - not sure if it’s cuz I didn’t tell them I’m in Europe, or because they’re becoming Chase this month. And often the bancomats (ATMs) don’t have English, many banks don’t change foreign money (even in touristy areas), and often the credit card machines in restaurants don’t work! Frustrating.

After our late lunch we walked around Ortygia and over to the Duomo, getting completely lost in an area that looked like Venice without canals, then over to the main square which was squeaky clean - they had just sand-blasted the exteriors of the buildings and it was a bright alabaster color instead of the dingy, streaky gray of most of the iconic European buildings. We found a nice shopping street where I tried to buy a Majolica plate (but ultimately rejected the purchase because the shipping alone would be 100 Euros.
The flowing water at the top of the theatre, behind the top seats, coming from the aqueduct above. Apparently the actors came here for inspiration before performances.
..and the plate cost considerably less than that!) and then we checked out the artisian well full of papyrus plants...and ducks, right at the edge of the waterfront, where we stopped to get gelato, granitas and coffee.

Liz got a text while we were were having our snack, saying that the Aeolian mini-cruise we booked had been canceled due to "boat failure" (yeesh), so Liz called to arrange the refund, and they gave us the number for another tour company. I called the new company and made a reservation, so we’re leaving early for Milazzo tomorrow.

We left Siracusa around 6-ish, stopping off to get gas before coming back to the villa. Full-serve gas service - dig that.

We were all knackered and went to bed early, but I finally got text messages from Ale about our planned trip to Gagliano on Friday.
We were hoping to go to Gagliano for half a day, and then come back through Bronte, on the western side of Mt. Etna. Bronte is the pistachio capital, and there was a pistachio festival going on that we thought would be fun to see. Ale said that Friday wasn't a great time to visit Gagliano, since his inlaws (my Aunt Giuseppina and Uncle Carmello) will not be in Gagliano because they will be in Catania for the weekend, and also that the road from Bronte to Gagliano isn’t good. He said we should take the road from Catania to Gagliano... so we need to figure out what we’re going to do.
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The Roman Amphitheatre.  No charge…
The Roman Amphitheatre. No charg…
My folks in front of the Roman Amp…
My folks in front of the Roman Am…
At the entrance to the Greek Amphi…
At the entrance to the Greek Amph…
Liz and Mags at the Greek Amphithe…
Liz and Mags at the Greek Amphith…
The flowing water at the top of th…
The flowing water at the top of t…
Greek Amphitheatre
Greek Amphitheatre
A ruined church we happened upon w…
A ruined church we happened upon …
I just liked this sad little place.
I just liked this sad little place.
The view from our parking spot on …
The view from our parking spot on…
Our rental car, the Fiat Idea.  On…
Our rental car, the Fiat Idea. O…
Trying to figure out the parking m…
Trying to figure out the parking …
Liz and Dad checking out more Gree…
Liz and Dad checking out more Gre…
The Duomo - all shiny and clean!
The Duomo - all shiny and clean!
The Duomo
The Duomo
The Duomo
The Duomo
The rents, Liz and Mags, plotting…
The 'rents, Liz and Mags, plottin…
Entrance to the Duomo
Entrance to the Duomo
Inside the Duomo
Inside the Duomo
Love the lamps.
Love the lamps.
Inside the Duomo
Inside the Duomo
Duomo
Duomo
Duomo
Duomo
Duomo
Duomo
Duomo
Duomo
The Artigian Well
The Artigian Well
View back towards our fabulous par…
View back towards our fabulous pa…
Siracusa
photo by: Vlindeke