Day 10- Siracusa

Today started off a little weird, because we were so tired from our long day the day before. We woke up and took an hour and a half to get going. Even though we had put our clothes in the dryer the night before, and then hung them up to finish drying overnight, most of them were still not completely dry! Austin asked the guy at the hostel desk about buying bus tickets, and he took 5 minutes explaining to him in English and Italian how to get tickets. This made us walk out of the hostel door just as the bus we needed pulled away from the stop. ARGH! That meant we had to walk to the station. Austin still thought we may be able to make the bus to Siracusa that we wanted to walking, so we fast walked it up to the station, and missed the bus by about 10 minutes. Then we waited for an hour. Then we got on a bus. We sat too far back on the bus (it was a charter style bus) and it was hot inside, so I got pretty sick. I sat there with my water and my plastic bag just in case for the remainder of the ride, and on top of it I had a pounding headache and was sweating my face off. Needless to say, I was very happy when we made it to Siracusa. Right off the bat, we decided to get some Italian ice or granitas to cool off. I got lemon flavored and it definitely hit the spot. Then we went to the archaeological park.

By the Roman theater- the one where they killed people

Siracusa has one of the biggest Greek theaters in the world. It is housed in a archaeological park that also included a roman theater (these were used for gladiator battles and horse races; Greek theaters were for arts performances and plays). There was also a ginormous altar where they could slaughter 450 oxen at one time for some god or another. Next to the Greek theater was a limestone quarry where they dug out a ton of limestone to build the ancient city. There is a legend that after a war, one of the kings of Siracusa put all of the prisoners of war in the limestone quarry cave, and then placed a guard near the top of the cave where there was a hole, and they could hear everything being said down below. That way, if anyone was talking smack, they could find out and punish them. While at the archaeological park, we inquired about tickets to a theater production going on that night. The nice Sicilian train lady had highly recommended it, and Taormina turned out to be so good we just had to do this too. The tickets were a little pricey, but this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. The festival that was going on is only 2 months out of the year, and features different greek plays on different nights. The actors are all acclaimed Greek theater masters, or students in one of two schools in the world for Greek theater, which is based right in Siracusa. Needless to say, we were stoked to get tickets, and even more stoked to get the student discount. 

Where they held the prisoners in the limestone
quarry, and the hole where they eavesdropped.
Austin was very proud of this pictures because
he had to use special settings on his camera to
get it because it was DARK in there

After the park, we trekked over to the archaological museum. Apparently there have been people living on Sicily for a VERY long time, like way before the bronze age, and they had lots of artifacts from each time period (clay pots, etc) and how old they were and what the civilizations were like. Italian museums aren’t known for making things interesting, but there was an abundance of clay pots and sculptures and all kinds of things, all the way through Roman times. The most interesting part for me was seeing the invention of different technologies over the centuries, from working with bone and rock to bronze. Also the decorations improved from just indentations in the clay to using colorful paints. There were an overwhelming amount of artifacts to look at, and all of the placards were soley in Italian, but it was still an interesting experience for me.

Proof we went to the archaeological museum

Since we got a late start, I was thinking maybe we would not be able to see all the things we wanted to in Siracusa. For Austin, this meant we just had to walk faster to get around. He was able to navigate us out to Ortygia, the island half of the city that is connected to the mainland by a few bridges. There we saw the Duomo, which was built out of the remains of a Greek temple. The Doric style columns visible from the inside made it really easy to tell that it did not used to be a Catholic church. We also visited the fountain of Aretusa, which is a fresh water spring literally feet from the sea. It provided the water supply for the city out on the island, and now is a pretty pond with ducks and greenery. After all of this, we only had about an hour to get back to the Greek theater for the play. Our original plan was to grab pizza at some place close to the island, and then ask them about a bus to get to the archaeological park. All the pizza places we found did not open until 7:30, and so we were out of luck there. Austin then began a fateful attempt at navigating our way there on foot. I really wanted to “map my run” out this day specifically because I think we walked 4-5 miles in total, probably more. We took a wrong turn and ended up literally on the other side of the train tracks, and had to walk very far out of the way to find a way to cross the train tracks back over closer to the city. It was hot, humid, I was thirsty, tired, hungry, and a little grumpy because we were walking really really fast to try to get there in time. Finally, we found the park, but still didn’t have any dinner. Austin left me at a corner so that he could run and get food and I could rest. Sure enough, just 5 long minutes later, Austin came back with pizza AND breakfast for the next morning! What a stud!

Performance in Italian of The Bacchae

We ended up making it to the Greek theater just in time for the performance to start. It was in Italian, so I did not pick up most of the story, but the actors were very good, there were dancers and singers too, and overall it was a very well put together production. All of the actors were very emphatic with their lines and the setting could not have been better.

After the theater, we found the train station. The train station is located conveniently in a spot that you can’t get to in a straightforward way from the greek theater. One way to get around was to go the way we did earlier on, and I did not want to do that. So, we decided to go more through the city center to get to the train station (and pick up some cheap gelato on the way). We made it to the train station and got settled in for the night train. This was our last night train. I was very happy. Night trains are great because you get two things in one- a place to sleep for the night, and a train ride to the next destination. This trip would take all day if we did it during the day, but because we opted for the night trains, we wake up in a brand-new place and can begin our day! On to the Amalfi Coast!

P.S. I am writing this from Napoli… we were nowhere near the earthquake or bombing that have happened over the last few days. However, the Italian cup soccer final was last night, and Napoli was playing in it, and they won. That meant riots and ruckus in the streets late into the night. Fortunately, we were safe inside our hostel at this point. 

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One thought on “Day 10- Siracusa

  1. Sorry for the heat and extended journey times! It still sounds great and although sad for those near the disasters we are happy you are all 3 safe. I am now moving on to your next blog:)

    Like

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