Jack's travelblog

Romans and Greek loved the Island

Sunday 29 October. After breakfast we drive counter clockwise around mount Etna. At Adrano we go west into the countryside. The top of mount Etna is in snow. With the clear sky a beautiful sight. The road to Agira goes up and down through the dry land. Agira is an old city on the top of the mountain. Very hard to drive through the narrow streets of the centre. To the south is Piazza Armerina. Even more narrow streets and hopeless road signs. The terrace in town is perfect next to the 16 century church building. We’re lost in the city streets, narrow and curvy. At last we find a way out. Without any damage.

Villa Romana del Casale just outside town is a big Roman palace. Most special are the many mosaics floors. Every floor has its own story. Very impressive. The next village has also a historic site, Morgantina. A few small mosaic floors, but the theatre is the main attraction of this ancient ruins. Night is falling and we decide to go back home. Have a pizza in town, watch the F1 race on tv and see Max win the race.

Monday after breakfast we take the highway to the south to get to Ragusa. Ragusa is an old town on a hill. Like many towns here. Should be very special, but we don’t see it. It’s a nice town on a steep hill. Some nice baroc churches and a sunny square. The park has a view on the valley. Well a nice town, that’s it. Next stop is Noto. Again a town on top of a hill. This time many sandstone buildings in the centre. Dozens of churches, a palazzo and a small theatre. We visit some churches, the mirror room in Palazzo Ducezio and the theatre. Have an ice-cream and enjoy it on the stairs to the church. The church of Chiara offers the opportunity to climb up to the roof and have a wonderful view on the city at sunset.

Tuesday it’s rainy so we decide to go to a city. Siracusa it is. In Saricusa we park the car and visit the Roman Amphitheatre. The Spanish used the nice stones for churches and other buildings, so just the limestone blocks are left. Too bad, but still impressive. Next is the Ear of Dionysius, a big hole in the wall of the old quarry. The other side of the wall reveals the Greek Theatre. A big theatre with a view on the surroundings of the city. Up of the theatre there are ancient graves in the rocks.

Nearby is the museum of Archimedes technics. Not that special. The sun disappears and the showers become a monsoon. Time to lunch and wait for better weather. In the afternoon we descend into the catacombs of San Giovanni. A big area of endless empty graves carved out of limestone. The guide shows us the church of San Giovanni and San Marciano. Some frescoes are left and the story is that here was the first church. The new basilica, Santuario della Madonna delle lacrime is a concrete high-rise building. Impressive, like the strange beautiful flowery trees around it.

The old town of Siracusa has more to offer. The amazing Piazza Duomo with the Cattedrale Natività di Maria Santissima. The Fountain of Diana and the temple of Apollo. This part of the city is one big open air museum with narrow streets and limestone buildings. At the edges the wavy sea. Cool.

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