"I wanna go back, go back, go back to dear old Syracuse!" Or as i Siciliani spell it, Siracusa. What a place! Mi piace!
Of course all trips have ups and downs and of this trip it could be said that "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." Well, hardly the "worst" but largely due to less than perfect planning, while for the most part I had a grand time I also missed out on some sites and sights that I should have got to. So while the quote just above is not entirely accurate (and is very likely the product of my having taught my French Revolution seminar once too often), I can say that it was definitely a tale of two cities, and in more ways than one. There are great differences between Siracusa and Catania, but so are there marked differences between what I think of as the two cities OF Siracusa: the island of Ortigia and the mainland portion of Siracusa.
Ups? Downs? The flight over was near perfect, barely a bump all the way from London to Sicily, beautifully clear skies so that I saw the Alps,
the end of land and the start of sea as we flew over the Mediterranean,
an island that I'm nearly certain was Corsica, and finally the coast of Sicily (below)from my window.
I was on the wrong side of the plane to see Mt Etna, but one can't have everything, can one? Once on land passport control took no time at all, but there was quite a wait for the bus from Catania Fontanarossa Airport to Siracusa. And once on the bus, what first-timers in Sicily thought was a shuttle bus, direct to the Siracusa bus station, was in fact a regional bus with several stops in Siracusa before the station, making for much confusion on the part of me and about ten others who were wondering which stop was ours! I pictured myself heading back to Catania, having missed the Siracusa bus station.
|view from my hotel room|
shortly before sunset
|another view from my hotel room|
shortly before sunset
Because of the long wait for the bus I had arrived at the hotel near sunset, and I wanted to get across Ortigia to see it, so I spent little time in the room, I asked my hostess the quickest way to Fonte Aretusa, the perfect place to watch the setting of the sun, and she obliged me by showing as direct a route as possible on a handy map she provided.
statue of Aretusa
Next I found Piazza Duomo, which some
|Fonte Aretusa, planted with papyrus|
I arrived at the fonte just after the sun had sunk below the horizon, a time when the sky and sea can be even more beautiful than when you can still see the setting sun.
|Just after sunset looking out over the bay at Ponte Aretusa|
|Later after sunset at Fonte Aretusa|
I then turned back east towards my hotel. I took the long way back, getting as close to the tip of the island as I could until I was stopped by the castello. I then walked along the coastline at twilight, a lovely route.
|My route back along the seaside|
Gutkowski, but chose not to go in.
Even though it was earlier than any Sicilian would ever think of having supper, I turned again towards the Piazza Duomo, where I'd seen a restaurant that looked rather nice, called the Gran Caffe al Duomo, and presented myself as the first customer of the evening. I chose the fixed price menu, and had, as a starter, tagliatelle con salmone, which was okay but not brilliant, and then spada - swordfish - in the Palermo style, which I assume means the excellent breading atop the fish. That was delicious! I finished with an insalata mista that was just right. Included in the price (25 Euros) came a quarter liter of white wine (which was as usual fine!) and a small bottle of aqua.
I returned to the hotel at about 8:30, probably just as many others were heading out for supper, but I was quite tired and after fiddling around with the Italian t channels making believe I understood much of what was being said I turned out the lights and slept very well. I awoke in the middle of the night just long enough to discover one reason I'd been sleeping so soundly. Outside my windows the waves were breaking gently against the rocks mext to the shore. People pay for new age CDs of such sounds to help them relax - I was getting it all gratis! A fine first day...