Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Syracuse and beyond

We ended up spending almost a week in Syracuse. A couple of the days there were thunderstorms, and a couple of days we did tourist things. We wandered pretty much all over the old town, which is called Ortigia. It’s the first place, as far as we know, that we’ve seen papyrus growing. It’s a pretty plant.

Papyrus in the fountain

Temple of Apollo in downtown Ortigia

View of the fort and waterfront of Ortigia

Of course, we also visited the archeological museum and the archeological park. The park has both Greek and Roman ruins including a huge Greek theater where classical Greek plays are sometimes performed.

Ear of Dionysus, an old quarry at the archeological park

Greek theater panorama (click to get a better view)

Roman amphitheater

A surprise for us was that Syracuse has famous catacombs below one of the first Christian churches in the world. (The guide said it was the oldest church in the western world, but we don’t know where he was dividing the world. We’re guessing somewhere between Italy and Greece.) Since we didn’t visit the catacombs in Rome, we were glad to find out about these and visit them.

Columns of the old church of San Giovanni

Before we left Syracuse, we did meet the people on Moonshadow from Portland briefly, and we spent a nice evening visiting on Marguerite with Jim and Barbara, plus Barbara’s brother, sister-in-law, and niece from Germany. It was tagging along with the Marguerite crew that we visited the archeological park and catacombs.

Now we’ve made it just over halfway up (west) the south coast of Sicily and are stopped at Porto Empedocle. The reason to stop here is to visit the Valley of the Temples (Greek) at Agrigento. We just came into the yacht club dock so that we would feel safe leaving the boat. We also wanted to get water since our last fill-up was in Corfu almost three weeks ago. We have a nice side-tie here because they really, really didn’t want us to moor bow-to.

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