I thought I should concentrate to two or three posts regarding my trip to Sicily and the Aeolian Islands. Finally, there will be this one and one more.
I rented a car and made a limited tour of Sicily, starting with…
… Syracuse, known for its Greek history, amphitheaters … and for the place where Archimedes was born, lived and died. It was once one of the major cities in the Mediterranean world. The Greek period was followed by Roman and Byzantine dominations interrupted by Muslim influence. During the mediaeval period, like for the rest of Sicily, there was a permanent influence struggle between different European dynasties, followed by the integration in the unified Italy (1865).
It was around Syracuse that the allied invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky) started in 1943.
The historic centre “Ortigia”, separated by the rest of the city by a canal, is dominated by the central place, Piazza de Duomo. The cathedral has still pillars from the time it was a Greek temple. During a first visit I was met by a very strong thunderstorm. I went back the following morning … under a blue sky.
On the hills behind the city centre, you can find what is left of an enormous Greek theatre (rebuilt by the Romans), a Roman amphitheatre… An enormous cave, the “Ear of Dionysius”, so baptized by Caravaggio, once (built?) used as a water storage.
Further up the hill, behind a statue there are some old graves, supposed to be the burial place of Archimedes (287-212 BC). I think we all learnt about him in school, but if you want to refresh your memory you can go here. There is a very interesting Archimedes museum.
Next stop was at Caltagirone, especially known as a town of pottery. The origin of the name is acutally Arabic – “qai’at-al-jarar” – “Castle of the (potter) jars”. The main landmark is the 142-step staircase, “Santa Maria del Monte” from 1608, with each step decorated with different ceramics.
… is actually best known for the nearby "Villa Romana del Casale", from the 4th century, containing the world’s largest collection of Roman mosaics. It was covered by a landslide during the 12th century. Excavations were made during the 20th century and it has been partly roofed for protection. Especially known are the “bikini girls”, young women performing different sports.
… renowned as the site of the ancient Greek city Akragas. It was one of the richest and most famous Greek colonies, today known as the “Valle dei Templi” (Valley of the Temples). They constitute some of the largest and best-preserved ancient Greek buildings outside Greece. One of the temples is surprisingly intact, thanks to its conversion to a Christian church in 597 (see picture on top of the post).
A little valley behind the temples is worth a visit for its luxurious vegetation.
Also, definitely worth a visit is the archeological museum, which in a remarkable way shows a collection of the rich findings on the site.
Here you can see the view I had from my hotel room - on top the total view of three temples - the some zooming.