Introduction to Sicily

Trip Start Nov 14, 2011
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Trip End Feb 28, 2013


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Flag of Italy  , Sicily,
Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mary's Impressions:
This year of travel has taken Jeff and I to many places that we have always wanted to visit. It feels surreal to be able to pick and choose the destinations we would like to travel to.  At times we had to set aside our fears and anxiety, take a chance and just go for it.  I have to say though for some destinations, there was never any hesitation to just go for it and travel - Italy certainly falls into that category.  Over the years I have spent many enjoyable times in Italy from my backpacking days to business and personal trips.  Although I have visited many areas of Italy there are always more places to explore.  One such area is Sicily.  Since Malta is so close to Sicily, it was inconceivable that we wouldn't include Sicily in our year of travel.

To start our Sicilian adventure, we flew to Catania, picked up our rental car and drove to Siracusa .  Siracusa is the capital of the province of Siracusa and is predominately known for its Greek history and architecture as it was a major power in the Mediterranean during Greek times.  Once described by Cicero as "The greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all". I agree with Cicero – there is something enticing about this town that stays with you.  The city founded by Ancient Greek Corinthians has many ruins and structures dating back to this era.  The building that I liked the most in Siracusa, the Cathedral of Siracusa in the Piazza del Duomo, originated in this period as an ancient Temple of Athena.  Walking around the building, you can see the Greek columns that have been incorporated into the building’s main structure.  The cathedral is a mix of architectural influences – Greek and Baroque – very eclectic!

Jeff and I spent a lot of time in the Piazza del Duomo as this pedestrian square seemed to be the hub of activity.  At night the square truly comes alive.  People are out and about eating and drinking at the many outdoor terraces or taking their nightly walks while eating a gelato.  Street performers and musicians entertain the crowds while street hawkers sell their goods – mostly toys and balloons for the kids.  On one night, I was intrigued to see a group of children positioning themselves very obediently in a semi-circle within the square in front of one of the street performers.  They seemed to know that this particular street performer was a puppeteer who would be performing a puppet show in the true Sicilian puppeteer fashion.  Jeff and I watched the show but we were more interested in how the kids were mesmerized and quietly watching this playful show as one puppet after another came out of the puppeteer’s large suitcase.

During our many walks through Siracusa and especially the area of Ortigia, I felt that I finally understood the concept of living in the moment.  With the heat of the sun and relaxed pace of Sicilians, you can’t help but be influenced by this way of life.  Jeff and I even took to having a siesta during the day to rest up so that we could enjoy the evening with a late dinner and take a promenade while having our gelatos (like the Sicilians) when the temperatures are cooler and more enjoyable to be out.  From this initial introduction, Sicily seems to be a different place from the other locations we have visited in Italy.  Sicily is a bit untamed, less refined but all the more interesting to explore and discover. Perhaps this is why people from Sicily will tell you that they are Sicillian before they will tell you that they are Italian.  I can’t wait to see what else we’ll uncover in our week of travel through the island of Sicily.
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