SyracuseFebruary 25, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C
Several people had recommended that we visit Syracuse, a coastal town with Greek, Roman, medieval and Baroque influences. We arrived before midday at the campervan stopover in the heart of town. It was €22 for 24 hours which was more than we'd usually pay but because the main sights were so close we didn't need to leave Poppy for too long, so we thought it was worth it.
Grabbing some lunch before heading out, we looked through the window and saw a German couple and their dog who had stayed at the Giardini Naxos site with us! We chatted in broken English and German awhile before donning our sunhats and strolling downhill through the straight grid pattern streets to the old town, situated on a small island.
Across the stone bridge, we saw small wooden fishing boats moored in the harbour, their blues, reds, whites and greens shining proudly in the bright light. There was a gathering of market stalls in front of the railed off remains of the Temple of Apollo. Huge cylindrical pillars now lay horizontally but we got a striking impression of past grandeur.
Vicky needed new sunglasses and there was a good range over several stalls. However, for anyone who knows Vicky, you know how picky she can be and for all but one of the pairs proffered by the stallholders 'mi non piace la' (I don't lile that) was one of the phrases they received back. Eventually, a good enough pair was found and we moved on to the food market. Here we got cheese, artichokes, garlic, some red mullet and prawns from an adjacent fish shop and one of the large Amalfi lemons we'd seen growing. The stallholder, as others had done before him, checked we knew how to prepare it (which we didn't). Apparently it is best eaten thinly sliced, pith and all, with salt in salad. When we tried it, it had the consistency of an unripe avocado but tasted very nice.
Moving away from the market, we treated ourselves to some yummy icecream and sat in the sunshine in the Baroque Piazza del Duomo, on the steps of the cathedral to eat it. Many of the market stall holders had been African and a seller now appraoched us, trying to persuade us to buy some African wooden items. We said no thank you and he sat beside us, beating his drum and enquiring where we were from. After a while he got up to leave but wanted to 'give' us each 'presents' of carved soap stone frogs. We'd both been caught out by 'presents' before and politely declined. When pressed further, we politely declined more forcefully and were left alone.
On the way back we dropped in to the Santuario della Madonna dello Lacrime, a modern church constructed out of concrete to symbolise a teardop. We could see the building from our pitch and whilst it wasn't the most beautiful of structures it was certainly interesting, with a ground floor cript displaying the life of Christ in a journey of mosaics and paintings in alcoves that radiated around the circumference of the building. Upstairs, the huge basilica was basically an empty space under the conical spire of the teardrop structure.
Back at the van, our pitch was grassy and the area surrounded by the yellow wildflowers that seem to coat the ground out here, so we sat out in the late sunshine with Poppy and caught up with family back in the UK. The next morning, we paid up did what we needed to with the van. The €22 definitely went towards the location because the services were in a poor state, with the water hose duct taped together and leaking through the join!Read more