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Published: November 23rd 2009
Day 28 Siracusa
We headed out to Archeological Museum in the late morning, walking there from the hostel. The museum is outstanding: it covers prehistory to Roman times and has artifacts from many sites in Sicily. We took more than 2 hours to go through, even with some hurrying at the end, since we wanted some time outside in the beautiful sunshine. We walked past the remains of one of Siracusa’a archeological digs, heading back to old part of town. We first stopped at the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, wanting to look at it again with all of the new info we’d gotten from the museum, including a model which recreated the original temple. Like much of Italy, so many cultures passed through here and changed prehistoric shrines to temples, to homes, to churches , to being buried under slums…and now dug out again!
We next walked back to the Duomo and its beautiful plazza….and then walked to the spring, still flowing, which the Greeks believed was once Diana’s handmaiden, changed to the spring to protect her from some other god’s unwanted attentions….at dusk thousands of birds came to roost in the trees near the spring….
Day 29 Siracusa to Taormina
We took the train in the morning to Taormina, a 2 hour trip, after getting our last espresso at the café near the hostel…
The train ride took us back through the refineries we had seen in the dark a week ago….at night they were lit by long fluorescent tubes and were very spaceship-like….as usual the train windows were filthy which makes watching the countryside go by frustrating….
We had booked a hotel in Taormina on line and knew it might be hard to get to from the train station, since Taormina is built on a very steep hill….both the train station and our hotel were on the coast below, but no buses run between them….you have to take a bus up into town and then another back down. We waited for the bus for awhile, during which time we watched a fight break out near the taxi stand, with one man (who would turn out to be our very pleasant taxi driver) raising a chair over his dead to threaten the other man….
Once delivered by taxi to our 4 star hotel (which we booked for only 50 euros/night!), we
admired the view and then took a bus up to the town way above us. There was a funicular that ran from right by our hotel, but is was closed for repairs. Taormina is just exquisite….almost a Disneyland version of a hill town, complete with tiny stairways, beautiful churches, and trendy shops, all overlooked by a Greek theater still inuse for concerts! And, of course, the majestic Mt Etna, snow topped (and steaming), looming above all. There are even costumed horses pulling brightly painted carts on the tiny streets at night. Of course there is a downside...coffees cost $5.00 a cup and a beer $6.….
We had a good dinner in a small restaurant where the owner was the waiter and cook…tried a dish called “macaroni norma”, pasta with tomato sauce and grilled eggplant.
Day 30 Taormina
We decided to stay here another day…it is really beautiful, and we didn’t have time to walk on the beach yesterday….it gets dark by 5:00 now….
We took a bus up to the town in the morning and hiked up to church and Norman castle above the town. One of my favorite Italian tourist things happened here: when we
got to the castle, it was locked….a fellow hiker asked a man living near the gate when it would open…he told us it had been closed for ten years and we should have checked in the tourist office before climbing up…of course, the map we got in the tourist office listed this as one of the walks to do from town!
We went back to the beach in the afternoon, where I hoped to swim…the beach turned out to be rocky and littered up close…and the sun disappeared just after we got there, so I just waded…
It is an adventure walking around the beach area…there are hundreds of small hotels, but almost no sidewalks, and the cars go very fast around the curves!
Day 31 Taormina to Rome
We thought about staying even longer, but had already made reservations in Rome, so we left this am, for an 8 hour train ride back north…we will certainly return to Sicily…..
On the way, we passed through a town that was hit with mudslides earlier this fall….the train ride is beautiful…the tracks follow the coast the whole way to Messina, where again we traveled in a
train ferry to the mainland.
We shared the compartment with a Romanian young woman who is married to an Italian and a young Italian man who worked in the lumber industry. His grandfather is American from PA! Might have been in the same group with my Dad, since he was here in the war at the same time….We all tried to talk…he knew very little English and she could translate some from Italian to English….the train was delayed for more than an hour…getting us into Rome after 7:30 pm…a long day!
We found our hotel, had a good dinner nearby….and are ready to crash….
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