Night location: Syracuse, Italy
A Muse of the Day: In order to cure the Maltese Dog and Gemma's seasickness it was decided that Gareth and David should imitate the puppet dance duel. David was keen, Gareth took some convincing, but eventually armed with coat hangers for swords and pillows for shields, they fulfilled their duty. The girls maintain they will be cured tomorrow.
Today we explored Ortigia, the ancient island of Syracuse. Our hotel is located in a brilliant spot, and so we set off first to the Fountain of Diana that exhibits sea nymphs and sea creatures, set in the Piazza Archimede that is surrounded by banks. David made a point of taking a picture of the Banco of Sicily. Keeping with the sea theme we proceeded to the jewellery shop Carlo Izzo where coral, gold, pearls and diamonds are turned into art of the sea.
Following the jewellery we wound our way to the ruined Temple of Apollo. The Italians have simply built a fence around the ruins and constructed the old town. It is hard to imagine Syracuse as a Greek city. Leading away from the temple were the old city markets where an abundance of incredible looking fresh food could be purchased. The colours of the fruit and vegetables were vibrant, however the smell of the fish did nothing for the Maltese Dog.
It is not hard to walk from one end of the island to the other. After leaving the markets we hugged the coastline to the port and then wound our way back through some tiny streets and ancient gates to the Piazza Duomo for refreshment. Gemma and David made the mistake of purchasing Caffe Frappe in the hope that it may be like Cappucino Freddo. Alas it was not. It was bitter and sweet at the same time if that's possible.
The Duomo of Syracuse is fascinating. It was originally a temple to the Greek goddess Athena in 480BC. The temple was then closed in to form a Christian church in the Byzantine era and then extended again in the Medieval period and finally rebuilt in 1700 after the Earthquake of 1693 to form the cathedral today. Inside the original Doric columns are the main feature, making this Cathedral truly unique.
Under the Piazza Duomo are the city's catacombs, a whole structure of tunnels and caverns that were used during WWII air raids. The tunnels link the main Piazzas of the city and there were pictures on the wall taking refuge during the war. Sadly the catacombs emptied out down near the harbour so Gemma and Gareth needed to do some backtracking to make their way back to the Piazza Duomo where Amber and David were sheltering in the shade.
Given the heat, we decided to have a Sicilian siesta after lunch before walking out to the East wall of the city and the Castello. The wind had certainly picked up and white caps were visible on the sea. Crazy sun bakers braved the wild waves on a wooden platform. Getting out of the wind, we explored the Machines of Da Vinci exhibition where Gemma and Amber built a Da Vinci arched bridge.
Finally, before dinner we attended the Picolo Puppet Theatre where we watched what we presume to be Part 1 of an Italian story that involved Kings, Knights, a Wizard, a Sorceress and other underworld creatures. The favourite part was the Knights duelling in a dance like fashion to the beat of a drum. David particularly found this amusing.
Once again we trusted the Michelin stickers for our choice of dinner restaurant. The female waiter was kind and hospitable. After Amber explained that she only wanted a half serve of pasta because she was unwell, the woman kindly offered her a freshly squeezed lemon to be coupled by sparkling mineral water to make a lemon soda. We ordered a Vegetable tasting plate for a starter that gave us a great sample of the local cuisine and then some outstanding pasta. The boys also braved typical Sicilian desserts. Even Gareth said it was rich!