Monday, January 18, 2016

Blue Skies Smilin' At Me

Annamaria on Monday

First view of Etna while landing at Catania

I came to Sicily last Monday and found the weather of a lovely day in June in New York.  The richness of my experience that over this past week defies communicating in one blog post. If they asked me, I could write a book about this place and what it means to me and to the rest of the civilized word.  I will tell you more about it over the next few weeks.  Today, I will begin with my first two days alone in Siracusa and confine this post to the Ortigia—the island that comprised the city’s power center during ancient times and that is now, in its entirety, part of the Patrimony of Humanity.  (It does not include, by the way, the ancient ruins and the in-tact Greek theater, one of best preserved in the world, that are on the mainland.  We can go there another time.) 

The area around my ancestral city was inhabited in prehistory.  The first Greek settlers came to this island in 734 BC.  By 500 BC, Siracusa had overflowed the original island settlement and was as large as Athens.  Eventually, it became the capital of Magna Grecia.  I first visited in 1979 and have been back six or seven times.  But this time I came with a story in mind and there were specific things I wanted to look at that are important in the lives and movements of my characters. 

Let me show you just some of what I saw.

After checking in—

A view from my room.  This port is where a major battle of the Peloponnesian
Wars took place, when Siracusa defeated Athens.

Another view, toward the mainland part of the city

I headed straight for the Piazza del Duomo to visit the place of greatest interest for me, given my story, and for anyone who comes here: the Duomo itself.  The Greeks built a fabulous Doric temple on this spot.  When the first Christian sanctuary in Europe was built here, the architects incorporated the temple structure.  You don’t see the likes of this anywhere else.

Entering the Piazza del Duomo

The Baroque facade.

From the side view you can see the Doric columns of the
Temple of Athena, built by the Greek colonists in 500BC.

Here is the other side of that exterior wall, again with
the columns in plain view.
I have so many gorgeous things I want to show you, but I’ll have to stop now because the Wi-Fi where I am today is very slow and unstable, and we may see the turn of the next millennium before all the photos I would like to show you upload.  Besides. we have to be kind to Jeff and make sure that his level of envy does not reach apoplectic proportions.

As we say here, a presto (See you soon).  Presto is a word that does not apply to the speed of my Wi-Fi while working on this blog.


  1. The envy is not restricted to Jeff! Wonderful photos and scenes, Annamaria.

    1. I'm glad you like them, Michael. I have lots more. Wait till next week. You'll want to book a flight and join me. Which would be great fun.

  2. Beautiful pictures of such a fascinating place.

    1. Thanks,Triss. It is super gorgeous, and the skies seem bluer here than anywhere.

  3. Lovely, AmA! (Kept short in cognizance of your circa 500 B.C. Wi-Fi...)

    1. OY, EvKa, what you see above took over four hours and a lot of gnashing of teeth. If I had had an AK47, I would have gone to find the modem and emptied a cartridge into it.

  4. Absolutely beautiful. Eagerly await more photos and history.

    I can see that I have to read up on this history.

  5. The envy I have is that you have wifi. I am in a hotel in Washington PA where not only did the ancient Greeks likely construct it, but current management is trying to maintain the same 2500 years ago feel. So there!