Italy
Tempio di Apollo

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    • Day 32

      Holy Cannoli

      October 24, 2023 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

      Hello from Ortigia ,Sicily. Tara, Mike and I RV’ d with Al (Mike’s brother) and Natalie in Sicily almost a week ago. Al had rented a car as he volunteered to be the driver. We headed out to our first destination, Acireale but a short ways from the airport we got our first taste of the terrible roads and crazy drivers of Sicily. Someone cut us off, Al hit an immovable cement object and a flat tire ensued. Unable to decipher the car’s manual, or operate the tire changing tool, we realized a little late that no one in the group had brushed up on their Italian. Fortunately a friendly off-duty policeman, who must win every game of charades, stopped and helped us put on the spare. He then showed us pictures of his family and explained - in sign language- that he had once arrested a Canadian. He seemed very proud of the fact and we assured him that we were law abiding Canadians ( and Brits). Our first encounter with the Sicilian people was very positive.
      From our first hotel stop we did day visits to Taormina a town built high up on a mountain in about 400 BC with a spectacular amphitheatre. The stage is still used for concerts but it was missing a singer that day (Caitlin). We took a day to visit Mount Etna, which at approximately 11,000 feet, (and growing) and can be seen from almost anywhere in the region. Etna is the tallest, active volcano in Europe having erupted just this past summer. It’s always smouldering a bit with a threatening wisp of steam coming off the top. The cable car was closed so we were taken up the mountain by bus. We chose not to go all the way to the upper craters because it requires a $$$$ special guided tour. Seems when people were allowed to freely roam around the craters a few tourists got too close and lost their footing - not good for business. The landscape on the volcano is black and bleak. In fact, except for the views back towards the ocean there wasn’t much to see. We hiked the few kms back down to our car and were covered in black sook which we spent that evening washing off ourselves and our socks/ shoes.
      The past few days we have been in the lovely sea-side town of Ortigia. There is an active port outside our hotel and we can wander around lots of back alleys in town for bars/ restaurants and walk a beautiful promenade. From here we have visited a few of the area hill towns including Noto, a world heritage site. There was a huge earthquake in Sicily in 1693 that destroyed the ancient towns in the area and many were rebuilt in the Baroque style - so lots of ornate churches and buildings. The buildings are all built with a local type of limestone that is a pretty yellow colour in the sunlight. Another treat over the past few days was swimming in the ocean which is warm enough and very refreshing in the 30 degree plus heat.
      Since we arrived, we’ve been filling the Sicilian food and drink bingo card. I had granita - what I can only describe as a Sicilian slushy. My travel mates like the gelato better but I found the granita very refreshing in the heat. We’ve tried arancini - a kind of deep-fried rice ball stuffed with various things. We’ve had a bit of seafood including some pistachio crusted tuna from the local seas ( a big hit), sardines and fried anchovies ( very salty). I had a world class cannoli for dessert the other night. It is filled with ricotta and not cream so heavy but not insurmountable. Yup, waistbands are tightening.
      Yesterday we toured and tasted at a winery called Occhipinti that Stanley Tucci featured in one of his shows. It is an organic winery started by a young Sicilian lady. It was interesting to hear how they tackle the various problems including the extensive heat waves and now new pests species.
      Sicily is one of the main ports of call for migrants looking refuge in Europe. However, except for a couple of “RESQ People” boats tied up outside our hotel, we have seen no evidence of the migrant issue. Most migrants land at Lampedusa which is much closer to Africa and are then transported to receiving areas. One church we visited had a beautiful cross constructed from the salvaged wood of a refugee boat that had broken up. Quite beautiful in a rough kind of way.
      A couple of unanticipated things we’ve encountered include the terrible road conditions and insane drivers who ignore all lines, signs and rules. Poor Al - our long-suffering driver - has had some long days trying to get us to the various places on our itinerary. Hair-pinned turns, insufficient road signs, unpredictable drivers - well we’ve certainly been trying to calm his frayed nerves with beer at the end of the day. Most cars have bits bashed in. (Picture enclosed).
      We’ve also observed that the garbage pickup must cost ++ money because some areas are full of roadside litter - an unfortunate eyesore in an otherwise pretty landscape.
      Tonight we will be completely across the large island of Sicily in Trapani.
      That’s all for now. On on we go……..
      Love Heather / Mom
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    • Day 34

      Syracuse au crépuscule

      April 17, 2023 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

      Le périple en Sicile continue ✌.

      On longe la côte en commençant par le sud. 🚐🦩
      Les routes sont très agréables comparées à celles de Calabre, beaucoup moins de trous ! Cependant, les déchets sont encore bien présents, le long de la voie, sur les plages, dans les herbes ; nous découvrons même de temps en temps des lieux de dépôt sauvage de détritus.

      L'île repose très peu sur l'industrie, excepté une immense raffinerie dont nous avons croisé la route, géante machine marchant jusqu'à la mer.

      L'île est parfaite pour un road trip en van si on aime les spots face à la mer et les pieds dans l'eau ! On dort chaque soir avec le bruit des vagues 🌊. On profite de merveilleux couchers du soleil, l'eau est cristalline et se pare de magnifiques couleurs selon la course du soleil. C'est idyllique. On profite d'avoir les plages rien qu'à nous pour faire du cerf volant 🪁.

      On a pu découvrir la ville de Syracuse et voir le soleil plonger dans son port en fin de journée, en buvant notre premier (oui, oui ☝) spritz 🌅.
      La ville est composée d'une presqu'île nommée Ortygie dans laquelle on a aimé se perdre dans les ruelles et fouler les remparts au crépuscule.
      C'est la cité aux 1000 influences, conquise au cours de son histoire par de nombreuses civilisations, elle est une porte d'entrée intéressante dans la compréhension de cette région insulaire particulière de l'Italie.

      On est beaucoup plus "slow" depuis qu'on est en Sicile, on aime beaucoup ça (peut-être qu'on adopte le rythme local ?) 🏝.

      Des bises salées de nous !
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    • Day 2

      Santo Stefano di Rogliano

      September 11, 2023 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

      We saw Ortigia in daylight this morning for the first time and it created a much better impression than last night. We enjoyed a walk and breakfast before the testing drive out of the city.
      Driving up to the ferry at Messina we saw many burnt trees and even road signs with the paint burnt off.
      We met some nice people as we waited for the ferry including its captain who agreed I could come to his bridge during the crossing if he could have his photo taken in the car. See photos.
      It was interesting to watch a train going into the ferry next to ours. See video.
      While on the ferry we decided how much further to drive and where to stay tonight then booked it.
      The accommodation is charming with a beautiful view.

      While driving over the Calabrian mountains the cross wind became noisy so after a coffee stop we both put in ear plugs. Wow, suddenly the car sounded much better, it ran smoother and speed went up from 80 to 90kph. So if Lewis Hamilton is reading this it could make the difference he needs right now.
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    • Day 16

      Syracuse

      June 29, 2023 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

      Before we made our way to catch up with Hairy and Ben for our train trip to Syracuse, we decided to check out the beach of Catania itself. The walk toward the beach showed the worst sides of Catania as there was a clear divide between the nice parts of town and the dodgy parts. Even along the main strip there would be rubbish around, but in this trek toward the beach, we were shocked at the amount of garbage that littered the roads. I think this is a recurring theme of our travelling. A lot of the locations have nice parts and dirty parts, and it is simply identifying where these locations are and avoiding them. We did not do this as we walked toward the beach, and I think it lowered my expectations for the beach considerably. Jack was completely put off by it, but luckily, I had been warned about the rubbish in parts of Italy and Europe and wasn't completely shocked by it. By the time we had made it to the beach we assumed it was going to be a disgusting mess, and the Cherry on top of the cake, a minor fire that had broken out blocking out path to the beach, ensured we lost all motivation to even go and see it. Instead we started walking to the train station to get to Syracuse, but even this was difficult, road works meant we had to run across highways and jump on buses just to get us in the right direction. Eventually, we did make it, just as the train arrived at the station.

      After an interesting start to the day, we finally caught Hairy and Ben and made our way to Syracuse. We only got to experience the old town, but it was incredible. It would have been good to see how the rest of the city compared, but there were so many cool places in the old town alone that we figured it wasn't worth exploring any further out. It started with some old ruins as you first entered the old town before being welcomed by tiny streets and large cream buildings on either side. The little restaurants provided great food, and I got to try my first aranchini ball, and it was awesome. I haven't found one as good since. We made our way through the old town toward the beach before finding a secluded, yet still slightly busy, little Cove to swim at. Nonetheless, we parked up there for a few hours and continued our recovery from the night before. Eventually, we felt better and figured it was time for a spritz and a feed. We found a little bar that overlooked the crystal clear water and figured we would stay here for a few drinks before finding somewhere else for food. The food was so good in the area that the choice became a bit overwhelming, and we eventually ran out of time to be picky and had to just pick a restaurant. In the end, it was good and cheap, but there were definitely better options. By this time, we were already partly pissed so we figured we would grab a few drinks for the train ride. When we arrived at the station, there was a single carriage, banged up and graffiti'ed train that we joked might be our train. Once we figured out what platform we boarded from, we quickly realised that it was, in fact, our train. Not only this, but the train was completely full, and we were forced to sit on the ground of a dingy ass train for almost an hour. This was an interesting trip home, but we made it eventually
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    • Day 4

      Ortigia

      November 11, 2019 in Italy ⋅ 🌧 20 °C

      Ortygia ist der Name einer kleinen Insel vor der Ostküste Siziliens, die das historische Zentrum der Stadt Syrakus bildet und nur durch eine wenige Meter breite Durchfahrt vom Festland getrennt ist.734 v. Chr. landeten hier Griechen aus Korinth. Die Blütezeit war von 500 bis 241 v. Chr. Sie war intellektuelles Zentrum. Platon und Archimedes sind die bekanntesten Geistesgrößen, die sich hier aufhielten.Read more

    • Day 9

      L'appartement au cœur d'Ortygia

      October 30, 2022 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

      L'appartement que nous avons trouvé sur Syracuse a un intérieur assez commun. Mais la vue... sur les ruines du temple d'Apollon 🤩.
      C'est le top !
      On a profité de la vue au petit déjeuner et au dîner 👍 puisque nous avons acheté le nécessaire au supermarché du coin : des céréales, des tapas et des boissons (dont une San Pellegrino au "Chino" très amère ... beurk).Read more

    • Day 32

      Syrakus

      September 12, 2022 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

      Heute sind wir nochmal nach Syrakus gefahren, um die archäologischen Ausgrabungsstätten (Parco Archilogica della Neapolis) zu besichtigen. Dieser Bereich war vor den Griechen schon von den Sikelern besiedelt. Bereits in der Antike hatte die Stadt 200000 Einwohner. Hier lehrten auch Plato und Archimedes. Heute haben wir nach 184 km auf ca 500 m ein Plätzchen gefunden.Read more

    • Day 7

      Ciao Diana

      August 8, 2020 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

      Syrakus hört sich für mich immer magisch an.
      Doch die sizilianischen Straßen sind so uneben wie Waldwege und nach einer Stunde im Auto bin ich komplett durchgeschüttelt und NICHT gut drauf 😄
      Das Haus mit dem Parkplatz im Keller finde ich erst nach 2 Corsi durch die komplette Altstadt, puhuuu. Jetzt liege ich glücklich auf dem Sofa und freue mich auf die Magie morgen 🤩
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    • Day 10

      Syracuse, Sicily

      July 11, 2018 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 26 °C

      Another early start for a 2 hour train trip to Rome airport. Beautiful scenery on the way lots of grass being cut for hay & acres of sunflowers. Met John & girls, now all in our appt in Syracuse. Went out to have a swim on the waterfront, so lovely and warmI could have stayed in forever. Supermercato to stock up, home for shower & snack. Just back from waterfront after a drink and light dinner. So nice, lovely temperature.Read more

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