Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sicilia for a Day

We are back at Tramonto (we missed having a name for our new house since we always talk about old Rainshadow Farm--so I'm getting used to Casa del Tramonto--Sunset House). We're enjoying the usual comforts of home...our own bed etc.  Before I unpack and do my pile of laundry, I wanted to share my birthday trip to Silicy with you. You may remember that we were in Tropea for two weeks at an Italian Language school. We planned it to coincide with my birthday on the 29th of January and to include a short week-end trip to Sicily. 

We don't have any pictures of our ferry ride TO Sicily because it was a pretty nerve-wracking experience since we've never done it before. We would have been more nervous than we already were had we known we were the last car to make the ferry. Looking back, it went pretty well. I got out of the car only once to ask some older fellows the way to the on-ramp. They actually understood my Italian and me theirs. A new experience. It's such a quick trip on the traghetto (ferry) that by the time you get upstairs to the deck, it's almost time to go back down again.

Travel ate up most of the weekend, but we had a full day in the city of Siracusa. We stayed on Ortigia, which is a small island and the centro storico (historic center) of Siracusa. 

The Grand Hotel Ortigia

Doug and I spent most of our married life in hotels without stars. In this stage of life we probably will no longer go camping (although it was fun--then) and we won't go on a trip unless we can somehow afford a hotel with a nice view and a great bathroom (all I really care about hotel-wise):

BTW from Guido: Ortigia will have our business again when we have more time. They DOOOO speak too much English around there because of all the Americans visiting Sicily.  They spoke inglese, we answered in italiano!! PS, the 4-5 star status is well worth the 140€ cost, especially in winter when they have heat and real showers!!!!!!

The Grand Hotel Ortigia is next to a small harbor that actually serves commercial as well as subsistence fishing. We enjoyed watching the sea gulls check the boats for potential handouts. We walked a great deal the next day looking at the rich architecture which was a mix of very old Greek and more recent Baroque.  Close to our hotel was a piazza in centro storico dominated by the Duomo. It was open and we walked right in:

This coach was in a municipal building of some sort
The sun at a cafe in a piazza is still one of my favorite things

These are the Greek ruins of a fortification around the ruins
of a city we didn't get to see this trip
Ortigia contains some Greek ruins but most of them are across the inlet in Siracusa. We tried to walk there but my comfortable shoes turned deadly after a whole day of walking around the island. We made it to a small outdoor market in Ortigia. I hope we'll someday see the legendary Palermo markets, but this one satisfied me until we take that trip.

Diana (the Goddess of the Hunt)
I'm named after her and although we don't share a passion for hunting-- I think we may share dispositions

The pictures below show one of three bridges that connect Ortigia to Siracusa:

There was a Marathon in town on Sunday.  It started in the piazza near our Hotel in Ortigia and went on around Siracusa. Doug caught some interesting photos of it:

Doug wanted me to point out the old Greek columns behind the runners

Like these guys, we had to run out of town and catch the next ferry. The Marathon closed the two main bridges so we had an interesting time finding our way out of town. We were about the second car on this ferry but it was a fast trip just the same. We had time for some terrible dry panini and Doug took a picture of Calabria:

We still had a week of language school ahead of us in beautiful Tropea:

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