Siracusa, the place for ancient history buffs

Greek Ruins

We start every day the same — quiet reading, a good breakfast, coffee, and a check of the weather. Guess what? Same as yesterday. Then we admire the beauty of the villa and remind ourselves how lucky we are to be here. Today’s destination was the ancient city of Siracusa, not far from our villa at all. Ten euros apiece and a short stay in line got us an all-day pass to the Neopolis, an amazing collection of antiquities and natural geologic features. First stop was the Roman Theater, which is right next to the second stop, The Greek Theater. This gave us pause. Both are huge and they are right next to each other. Why couldn’t the Romans use what the Greeks had already built? Our only theory is that the Greeks wanted to put on plays, which required the building of a stage and bleacher seating, while the Romans were more interested in killing people and animals, requiring miles of underground cages and other grim reminders of the past. Plays are still performed at the Greek Theater. Luckily, none of the old style entertainment still happens at the Roman Theater. But both were amazing, and astonishingly large. Well worth the trip.

The Orecchio di Dionisio


Orecchio means “ear” in Italian. The Orecchio of Dionisio is an enormous cave with acoustics that allow you to whisper and be heard far away. (Or, if you’re a tourist, to whistle annoyingly or scream and hurt everyone’s ears). Legend has it that this was once used as a prison, and that Dionysius could hear the whispers of his most dangerous prisoners, and take appropriate action ahead of time. It’s hard to leave once you are inside. A true wonder of nature.

That dang tomb of Archimedes

The plan was to finish our tour with a visit to the tomb of Archimedes, which was on the way to the exit. But after hours of sweating in the brain-frying sun and walking up and down hundreds of steps, Liz and Mike sat in the shade while Charlie and Jane made the trip down yet more stairs. They walked forever and never got there, turning back and deciding they didn’t really care that much anyway, and after all, it’s just a legend that Archimedes is buried there, plus he’s dead anyway. So we found the exit and walked another six blocks to the archeology museum.

The group suffers a mass “bonk”

We get it. We should have eaten lunch. We should have drunk more water. But we didn’t, and so our visit to the archeological museum, of which we would normally be fans and which was probably a great place, was cut short. Maybe it was the rooms full of shards leading to more rooms of shards. Maybe it was the blister. Maybe it was the dehydration. Whatever the cause, we bailed after a few rooms and headed back to the villa for showers, dry clothing, and a lovely dinner at a local restaurant on the beach, where the breeze off the sea was heavenly, the food was cheap and the waiters were charming and handsome.

Health and beauty tips for travelers in Sicily

+ Heavy-duty paper towels make excellent sweat wipes. Bring three, as a wet sweat wipe, if used too often, will leave tiny rolls of paper on your face.
+ Ladies: wear light makeup. Your usual heavy coverage will slide off your face and onto your décolletage after about an hour.
+ Don’t wear the same pair of shoes more than one day in a row. You will get a big blister.
+ Eat lunch.
+ Drink water. And then drink more water.
+ Granita cures pretty much anything.

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Siracusa, The Place For Ancient History Buffs

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