The Greek theatre, Ear of Dionysius and the Apollo Temple area are shown here. The tour also explored the Piazza Duomo, with which we were very familiar. Our local expert was excellent in describing these sights.
Perhaps the largest Greek theatre on the planet is here in mainland Siracusa. One can see that controversial, too high peak of the Santuario della Madonna even on this hill!
At the top back overlooking the theatre are several caves
Christened by Caravaggio, this spectacular ear-shaped cave has wonderful acoustics!
70′ High and 200′ Deep
Water divides Ortygia (Ancient Siracusa) from mainland Siracusa
One has to use one’s imagination here…
Then we had a lunch break and left for Ragusa, about 2 hours away including a rest stop.
Ragusa-Ibla – The Old Town
Our local expert for Ragusa was again excellent in describing these sights. We visited the Old Town on Friday afternoon and slept in Ragusa.
Ragusa Ibla (Old Town) on our approach at 3:30 PM. It was terribly damaged in the earthquake of 1693 but its citizens opted to remain and rebuild. Many of the wealthy started a “new” town on another hill.
These gardens in Ragusa-Ibla are magnificent but the trees are threatened
This palm has been killed and many others here and elsewhere are dead or threatened by Red Palm Weevils
Sundial to the right of this Ibla Church determined when farm workers would start and stop for rest.
A nail in the middle of the top line creates a time telling shadow but one needs sun for this
The sisters who weren’t at the wedding in San Giorgio Cathedral were praying inside…
Several of our group are also in this photo. I was on the Duomo stairs within for the bride and groom…
Why three nights in Siracusa? That island city’s key treasures and its historical importance in the ancient, storied, Greek world (larger than Athens and Corinth in its time).
We (well, mostly I…) like to arrive and have one or two days on our own before joining a guided tour. Siracusa was a perfect choice. We landed at Catania Airport on October 9 and needed to return there to begin the tour. Siracusa was only a one hour bus ride direct from Catania Airport.
These are the attractions in central Ortigia that we visited
We traveled from Hop 3 to Hop 12 to get to the Museum. It goes N off the island into mainland Siracusa
Wednesday, October 10
We walked a short distance to the Piazza Duomo, first visiting Santa Lucía alla Badia Church that has a huge painting of the Burial of Saint Lucy by Caravaggio, a painter whose wonderful chiaroscuro work I search for wherever I am.
At 10:30 AM walking past the Archimedes Museum to the Piazza Duomo
Santa Lucía alla Badia Church has Caravaggio’s “The Burial of Saint Lucy”
Photos are not permitted in the church. This is from Wikipedia
I did sneak this one of Caravaggio’s life
After visiting St. Lucy’s Church we visited the Duomo itself, a cathedral built on the site of an ancient Greek temple, supported by the temples original columns and full of beautiful art .
There are many treasures in this place
The Duomo was built on original Doric columns from a ruined Greek temple
Santa Lucía with her eyes in a jar
Looking down the nave are two Doric columns
We aborted our walk through the Ipogeo, an ancient tunnel that leads to the Fonte Aretusa, because of the smell of urine, we cleansed with gelati at Gelati Bianca in P. Duomo and finished leftover pizza from our late supper on Tuesday. Then we walked north along Via Roma and just off the island to see how we would get to the Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum on Thursday. The two regular city bus lines weren’t working but we learned we could catch the Hop On Hop Off Bus at Hop 3 (Piazza Archimede), very near our BnB then get off at Hop 12 and the Museo tomorrow.
This early 20th C. statue by Giulio Moschetti represents the nymph Arethusa having been transformed into the goddess Diana, to whom she appealed when pursued by a horny river god.
We walked through this market on our walk near mainland Siracusa
Tourists cross from Ortigia to Siracusa’s mainland
We ate at a very busy Osteria Mariano, where we enjoyed the atmosphere and the food was good. I enjoy cannelloni so I tucked into one for dessert.
Thursday, October 11
Our stop for the Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum
Its sheer contrast with everything else in Siracusa renders this place scornful for many despite its “miraculous” tearful Madonna
This one was signed on the dolphin under Arethusa’s neck. The coin and jewelry items are plentiful and splendid.
A second century BC Venus at the Museo
La Fonte d’Aretusa – a fresh water spring that the Oracle of Delphi spoke of. It enabled the island of Ortigia to withstand sieges.
We walked from our B and B here for lunch on Thu
We enjoyed ourselves here on Wed night so returned (a tad early) on Thu
Friday, October 12
On Friday morning we explored Siracusa’s Forte Vigilena and the Papyrus Museum.
Friday morning we walked east to Forte Vigilena and I went to the edge, where the view was nice. But then almost all views are exceedingly nice in Ortigia.
At the Papyrus Museum I learned that it grows in the fresh waters near the mouth of the Ciane River – the ONLY place outside Africa where it grows in the wild.
At the mouth of the Fiume Ciane is the Papyrus Reserve.
Then we got on the Interbus, which goes to the airport, but getting off near the Catania train station, close to our hotel, instead. We were in good time to meet our tour director and a few of our fellow tourists before supper. I explored the centre of Catania very thoroughly – looking for a lens cover I’d lost. No decent photo shops to be found. Guess the Samsungs and iPhones have taken over…
We knew beforehand that Saturday we would return to Siracusa with our tour and this time visit its amazing Greek Theatre, the massive Ear of Dionsyius Cave and the bits left of the Temple of Apollo before continuing to the picturesque hilled town of Ragusa. All this the subjects of Sicily and Malta.3 – coming soon.