Continuing on what was turning into a Greek history tour of Sicily, on day three we headed into Syracuse.
My first impression of Syracuse? It’s very pale. The whole city looks bleached by the sun. The kid’s first impression? “Everything is so old fashioned”. Well, dear children, maybe that’s because the city is 3800 years old.
We wandered around the oldest parts of the city, the parts that include the ruins of more Greek temples, beautiful churches, and a fountain that was originally a nymph but was transformed by Artemis to escape the eye of a sea god, if you believe the myths. We had a superb lunch at a tiny café where the waiter kept bringing us things. Bread, then olives, then artichokes, then chips, then cut up hot dogs, then bread sticks. When it was finally time for our lunches to come, there was no more room on the table. And then it was time for more gelato.
After Syracuse, we had a little extra time so we drove up a volcano. Mt. Etna is huge. 11,000 feet high with a base larger than London. You can see it from almost anywhere you stand in eastern Sicily. It smokes constantly. Sometimes little puffs, sometimes covering the sky. It’s one of the most active volcanoes in the world so it seemed like a good place to take our small children.
Lava rocks collected, we headed back to our hotel for a little beach time, then dinner overlooking the Ionian Sea.
The following day, we headed back west, this time through the center of the island. Man, is it brown. All farms and hills with an occasional scrubby tree. After the intense blue of the sea, the brown looked really, really brown. Along the way back, we veered south toward Agrigento and the Valle dei Templi, the Valley of the Temples. With L leading the way, telling us stories of the gods, we wandered through the ruins.
Our hotel for the evening was just meant to be our “by the airport” hotel, but turned out to be beautiful. Deep in the olive trees, it was the quietest night we spent on the whole trip, which would have made sleeping perfect except for the lizard who crawled up to the very high ceiling and out of reach and kept me awake, not by making noise or bothering us in any way but just by being a wild lizard loose in the room.
And, in case you were wondering, no, none of us got tired of gelato.