Sicily


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May 13th 2016
Published: May 13th 2016
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Had no internet at last hotel, so you might find several blogs dated today. On the third last day we learned so much that I thought my head was spinning. We went to Siracusa (Syracuse), birthplace of the famed Mathematician Archimedes, the guy who supposedly yelled "Eureka" when he discovered that objects displace as much water as they weigh, as he was running down the streets naked. Oh well, sounds good, but probably no truth in the naked part. Anyway, he was way ahead of his time in so many educational matters. There is a sculpture standing in between two bridges supposedly of him, since no one knows what he looked like. He is holding a compass in one and and a "burning" mirror in the other. Story is that when Roman ships tried to attack, he caused their ships to catch on fire with his mirror. Guide said closer story is that he actually blinded the sailors with the mirror so they could not land. Chose whichever one you like best, there is no one to prove you wrong. As usual, we saw a lot of churches. Seeing as we are in the home area of Catholicism, makes a lot of sense. One church, St. Lucia, contained segments of all the historic periods - Norman, Baroque, Spanish and Roman. St Lucia supposedly was a rich girl whose father died when she was young and mother while she was in her early 20's. She went to pray and had a vision that told her to help the poor. Not sure how that exactly relates to sainthood, we did not hear any of the miracles, but it makes a good story. There are paintings of her in the church with in knife in her throat, but our guide says that now they believe she was beheaded. In one of the chapels were statues of archbishops with their bones displayed in glass cases below. Wonder why loved ones did not claim them? Sometimes I do not understand the Catholic Church at all. We wandered extremely narrow streets, no wider that probably four feet, so only humans, bikes, scooters and small motorcycles used them. Some of the streets were named for the occupations of the people who lived there in much earlier times. We went to a church that had no roof, but an altar and plastic chairs. Guide said it used to be a synagogue in the 1920's before all the Jewish population left Sicily. She got into a heated discussion with a priest because he did not want her to tell tourists it had been a synagogue. She said she could not change history, but that she also had to get along with the priest because the church was on the tour site list and he had the power to stop tours from coming there. Mary Ann and I shared a Margarita pizza, our only real pizza the whole time here (except for the mini one I had in Ragusa) and drank Fanta for lunch. it was yummy and close to American pizza.Did I tell you that in Sicily and Italy Fanta is nothing like here in the states? It is more orange juice with sparking water that a soda. Afterward we took a tour of the city from a harbor boat; beautiful day, little waves.

Now we are in Catania at our last hotel - Il Pricipe Hotel, a real palace (but not like Buckingham or Versailles, lot of rich Sicilians had palaces, but the are more like grand manors) and also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Different from the other hotels we have stayed in, nicely appointed but rather cold and confusing. It is situated on both sides of a street that dead ends at a large stairway with restaurants and other buildings on the landings. Have to go through a corridor under the street to get to the lobby or most of the rooms. Stairs head up to a couple of churches, but they are mostly abandoned. We took a short walk and ate granita (mine was almond) a sort of Italian water ice. Then we all went our separate ways. Two of the couples got stuck in the elevator for 15 minutes. Guess it was kind of hairy, the men were both claustrophobic. Early night tonight, early morning tomorrow. I am saddened the end is so near, I would like to start over.

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