It’s our last day in Sicily.
We head to the Syracuse’s famous archaeological park which hosts many well-preserved Greek and Roman remains. After enjoying the 3rd century (yes, third century!) Roman amphitheater, we walk a short way down to the large Greek theater. This 5th century teatro greco, home to the first Greek comedy, could accommodate 15,000 spectators. What I find special is they are building a stage and screen to host the annual Greek Theater Festival. I love that it is still being used! Around the “cheap seats” in the back we find small nooks and caves that we learn were like backstage hangouts for the writers, poets, and actors. One of those actors being Plato!
After climbing around the theaters, we make our way through what appears to be a pretty lemon orchard, but is actually the Latomia. This historic quarry was originally used as a source of limestone for temples and roads, but later the dug out caves became an inescapable prison for captured Athenians. Lush walkways lead us to the giant stone structure, which Caravaggio aptly named Dionysus’ Ear, due its shape and function. It’s a natural cave, with a tall slender shape that gives it amazing acoustics and echoes. It is said that Dionysus the Tyrant (c. 432-367 BC) used the cave as a prison for his enemies and the excellent echoes allowed him to eavesdrop on the whispered conversations from the outside. A clever tool in ancient times.
Not long after that, we’re back on the streets, this time heading to the beach. Living in Toronto has made Jenn anxious to sunbathe and what better opportunity than our last full day in Sicily? A short bus ride takes us around the Syracuse harbor and through the residential countryside to one of the small regional beaches… Arenella. We cruise through fields, admiring the pretty flowers growing in the many gardens. I play peek-a-boo with an adorable little girl with dark black eyes and pigtails riding with her mom and baby sister. Her face lights up when she smiles. We stop to wait for cows passing by, as workers and teenagers and other passengers all hop on and off in friendly greeting, as if they all know each other, which they surely do.
Finally, we’ve reached our stop, only noticing after hearing a couple of girls announce the location. Dropped in what feels like the middle of nowhere, we wander down the road and find the beach. Jenn lays out in the sun while I lounge on a few rocks at the foot of a small cliff and catch up on writing. Overlooking the bright blue Ionian Sea, the small beach stretches along, sprinkled with fellow sunbathers. Many of the men are wearing Speedos. Some look “good”… and some… do not. Fishermen go about their work on boats in the distance. I hear the occasional scooter zip by on the road far behind me. Sometimes I heard a friendly shout in Italian as friends find and greet each other. The waves crash in as I relive moments from the last few days, listening to my favorite music. It doesn’t matter where I am in the world; I find the same peace by the sea. The sound, the expanse, the ocean air… all so calming.
The afternoon passes by and eventually we consider it might be a good idea to walk up to the little lot above and figure out how when we’re going to get back to Syracuse. We find a wooden light post with a small, crooked sign with BUS painted on it. I’m surprised to find there is actually a schedule posted; a small faded piece of paper stapled to the post. Coincidentally, we notice that we’re just on time for a scheduled bus. I say as much to Jenn, and out of nowhere a woman behind us states, “Yes, now.” And bam, just like that… here comes the bus. I’m in awe. We’ve strolled to the bus stop at the exact moment the bus came… on this small country road… when we had absolutely no idea what the bus schedule was… and it must be the timeliest bus in Sicily!
Later that night, we grab our last Sicilian meal and call it a night. Tomorrow we’ll be on a very early bus to Palermo, where we’ll catch our flight to Rome. I had no idea what to expect from Sicily and enjoyed every moment. The people are wonderfully friendly, the food is delicious, the history is staggering, and all of the unexpected things to be found keep everyday interesting. I’m certain I’ll return as there is so, so much more to explore here.
- Finding Greece in Syracuse (briefhiatus.wordpress.com)