Being the opportunistic traveler that I am I said yes immediately and sometime in August ended up, after a night on a bus, in Fontane Bianche!
Sicily is super cool and this is basically going to be an incredibly braggy post. To be fair, I had a local showing me around which always makes places better but still.
The first thing we did after dropping off my bag was grab some sandwiches and pop down to the beach. It was extremely crowded and the only way to get a spot would have been to pay for one of the umbrellas. As a Kiwi I'm against paying to be at the beach, so we found a spot on some nearby rocks and got comfy.
|A new take on the duck face|
|I don't know who this woman is but I couldn't get a pic of the fountain without her.|
|The only photo from the night, you probably don't need more anyway!|
|The view I woke up to... sigh|
We made our way back to Fontane Bianche and had a nap (beach sleeping doesn't make for a lot of sleep) then P's parents dropped off Ben and we took him swimming.
|Heading down to the stage|
In the morning, Peter had real life stuff to do so I made my way to the catacombs - something we'd be meaning to do the night before as they have a late night creepy tour. Again fully in Italian so we gave it a miss.
Below is an incredibly old church. St Paul came to Syracuse in 69AD an legend has it that he prayed in this church.
|The rose window was a later addition by the Normans and the twelve pillars represent the twelve apostles.|
The body of Saint Marciano (sorry if I've spelled it wrong) was buried here and early Christians would touch it through a gap in the tomb to take some of the saintliness. Syracuse is possibly the first Christian city of the West.
The catacombs date to around 400AD and have always been used as a cemetery. There are about 10,000 tombs but an unknown amount of bodies. It was built over an aqueduct systems and Christians used the aqueduct system as chapels (the round rooms you can see on the map).
They are 7m underground and contain three types of tomb - small tombs for babies, plain narrow tombs for the poor and larger, decorated tombs for the rich or religious. Bodies were buried in the foetal position because that is how you are born and death is just religious rebirth.
It was used as a bomb shelter during WWII and the bones were removed to a different cemetery.
There is the chapel of the seven virgins - two women died around age 84 which was incredible at a time when most women died at 30 from childbirth. The women were virgins, a sort of first community of nuns.
There is a unique tomb we were shown that has three holes drilled in the top. On anniversaries (birthday, deathday) the family of the deceased would pour milk, honey and wine into each of the holes. Milk and honey for richness and wine to symbolise the blood of Christ.
|Those square holes are tombs.|
|Just over the harbour you can see the island of Ortygia.|
|I saw this on the way. Horse meat is a thing in Italy, by the way.|
Another story says that Archimedes defeated attacking ships (possibly from Athens) by aiming mirrors arranged in a parabola at them, causing them to catch fire. This has been 'busted' by mythbusters but a group of MIT students concluded it was possible and a Greek scientist successfully carried out an experiment.
|This is the actual flag of Sicily. The red and yellow represent the cities of Palermo and Corleone.|
Another cool thing about the fountain is that wild papyrus has grown at its centre for millenia and, together with the papyrus of Ciane/Anapo river (also in Syracuse) is the only wild papyrus in Europe!
|Trapeze, slackline, juggling ball, unicycle, hoolahoops juggling rings, and stilts - sadly without straps so I couldn't use them.|
|You can see a place he might have sat right at the top - it's paler than the surrounding rock.|
Afterwards we went to a spot by a lighthouse that had rocky cliffs and crashing waves. The sea was an amazing deep blue that my camera will give no justice to.
This is my second to last granita (I had them pretty much every morning while in Sicily). I decided to try something different to my standard almond one. Quite impressive don't you think! That afternoon I got back on a bus and took another 18 hour trip back to Milan. Luckily sleeping in cars makes for a horrible sleep and I was unconscious basically the whole time.
Also, just because I'm never sure which language to write the names of things in:
Sicily = Sicilia (the 'c' is pronounced 'ch')
Syracuse = Siracusa
Ortygia = Ortigia