Tag Archives: Mount Etna

Syracuse – Sicily

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Syracuse  is a historic city in Sicily, the capital of the province of Syracuse.

The city is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres, architecture, and as the birthplace of the preeminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes.

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This 2,700-year-old city played a key role in ancient times,

when it was one of the major powers of the Mediterranean world.

Syracuse is located in the southeast corner of the island of Sicily, right by the Gulf of Syracuse next to the Ionian Sea.

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The city was founded by Ancient Greek Corinthians and Teneans and became a very powerful city-state.

Syracuse was allied with Sparta and Corinth, exerting influence over the entire Magna Graecia area of which it was the most important city.

Once described by Cicero as “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all”, it later became part of the Roman Republic and Byzantine Empire.

Our trek to Malta took us to this enchanted city for only a brief time…

on our way we passed by Mount Etna,  the tallest active volcano on the European continent, 10,922 feet high.

It is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps.

Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of activity, which was quite amazing to watch…

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We had met a lovely couple in Messina, who suggested a stop in Syracusa to visit the Piazza Duomo

We stayed in the Hotel Roma which is actually part of the Temple of Athena, now the Syracuse Cathedral….

We arrived at night and the city was magical……with all sorts of promises for daybreak….

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We stayed in the Hotel Roma…….which was once part of the Temple of Athena..

in one section of the hotel you could look though the glass floor and gaze upon the Altar of Atena….quite literally walking on history!

Our room had a marvelous balcony with views of the Piazza Duomo …

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In the morning we dashed off around the corner to see what treasures were hidden at the back of the hotel…

There it was the Temple of Athena, now the Syracusa Cathedral…..

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The charm of this construction of a modern place of worship upon a much more  ancient one is heightened by the fact that some of the columns “trapped” within  the walls have been tilted and twisted by earthquakes that the cathedral has endured  during its history.

In these deformities one can see “frozen” in time the awesome  force of nature that shook Syracuse in its ancient history.

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The temple of Athena in Doric style was erected in the fifth century BC the tyrant Gelo after the victory against the Carthaginians in the Battle of Imera.

The Athenaion had six columns in front, with 14 columns along the sides. Part of the temple is currently visible on the left side of the cathedral…

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In the seventh century the temple was converted into a church by the bishop of the city Zos.

The church, of Byzantine style, was dedicated to the Nativity of Mary.

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The floor dates from the fifteenth century and in 1518 the nave was covered with the wooden ceiling still preserved.

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In the sixteenth century was also erected the bell tower. In 1728 the façade was reconstructed.

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We found being in this structure that survived so many years and served so many people in different capacities so very interesting…

Now off to the markets……..

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The city is brimming with beauty….

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We come upon the Fountain of Diana……

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……so this Siracusa, known to English speakers as Syracuse, was a wonder to behold…..

One of the great ancient capitals of Western civilization, founded in 734 BC by Greek colonists from Corinth which soon grew to rival, and even surpass, Athens in splendor and power.

This magical place became the largest, wealthiest city-state in the West and a bulwark of Greek civilization.

Rulers such as Dionysius filled the courts with Greeks of the highest cultural stature—among them the playwrights Aeschylus and Euripides, and the philosopher Plato

We are left, sitting on the Piazza Duomo, sipping our cappuccino, preparing for the next leg of our journey……

…..suddenly the air if filled with beautiful music…..and there he is…

a young boy sitting on the steps of the Temple of Athena with his accordion….

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……….like a dream, I say…………..like a dream…….

ciao

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Dinner at Ardigna – Salemi, Sicily

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During a recent trip to Sicily, my hosts decided to take me off to an adventure for dinner.  We drove for a couple of hours up these winding, tiny roads………….full of pot holes and parts of the road unpaved.  I was wondering what sort of culinary temple would be nestled up in this dense Sicilian forest and who in their right mind would EVER take the time, not to mention the risk of traveling to this outpost!  It was late at night, around 10 P.M…………remember the Italians love to dine late.   When the headlights shone off the edge of the road and there was nothing but darkness below,

I was reminded of my ride to the rainforest to visit my Aztec friends and wondered why I was alway being put at the edge of the abyss in my life!

After what seemed to be an all night excursion we rounded a corner and entered a parking lot FULL of vehicles!!!  There were others out there who would take this venture……..feeling more confident now!

We found ourselves at an ancient hunting lodge, in the middle of the Sicilian forest on a mountain top! 

The Ardigna was not always open to the public and for years was the private lodge for those who would hunt in these forests.

The interior was so very warm and inviting, the rustic charm so well blended with most incredible smells coming from the kitchen and the smiles of the staff……..


the meal began with a simple knotted bread, with the taste of pretzels and beautiful olive oil……

…oh a light dinner……..I thought…..

…………..and then it began……the virtual tsunami of antipasto………the first a tray of such incredible delights..quail eggs, some obscure meat on a skewer, grilled eggplant, prosciutto, delightful fresh tomatoes, fried mozzarella, olives and several items that were not of my known culinary universe……however they were delightful….

a stew of fresh lamb………..served in ancient copper pots…

………fava beans……….minus the hockey mask……..

…beautiful fresh cheese…

and we are so very, very lucky to have arrived during artichoke season and are rewarded with the most succulent, delightful artichokes……..

then……….oh might I swoon………..gnocci with saffron and pistachio……

followed by more pasta with fresh lamb………

and just when you think you cannot eat another mosel……….comes the platter full of meats that were hunted that day……
venison…….donkey……quail…….goat…..wild boar…..and more………

a most enchanting evening………oh did I mention the wine…….I consumed liters of it……most fantastic!!!

The Flag of Sicily

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After my recent trip to Sicily, many viewers have asked about the Flag of Sicily, so I thought I might provide a few interesting tidbits of information……..

Flag of the Sicilian Region Italiano: Bandiera...

Flag of the Sicilian Region Italiano: Bandiera della Regione Siciliana Sicilianu: Bannera dâ Riggiuni Siciliana Deutsch: Flagge der Sizilianischen Region (oder der Autonomen Region Sizilien) Français : Drapeau de la Région Sicilienne Español: Bandera de la Región Siciliana Português: Bandeira da Região Siciliana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The flag of Sicily was first adopted in 1282, after the successful  revolt against Charles I of Sicily. 

It is characterized by the presence of the triskelion in its middle, the winged head of Medusa and three wheat ears.

Sicilian Triskelion

Sicilian Triskelion (Photo credit: NatalieMaynor)

The three bent legs allegedly represent the three points of the triangular shape of the island of Sicily itself.

The present design became the official public flag of the Autonomous Region of Sicily on January 4, 2000, after the passing of an apposite law which advocates its use on public buildings, schools, city halls, and all the other places in which Sicily is represented.

The flag is bisected diagonally into regions colored red and yellow, red representing the municipality of Palermo, yellow representing Corleone, which in medieval times was an agricultural city of renown. Palermo and Corleone were the first two cities to found a confederation against the Capetian House of Angevin rule.

The flag looks somewhat similar to the flag of the Isle of Man,

especially for the use of the triskelion in both of these; today, the triskelion (or ”trisceli”) is also widely considered the actual symbol of Sicily. The symbol is also known as the ”trinacria”, which is also an ancient name of Sicily. The name was also revived and used during the Aragonese period of the Kingdom of Sicily immediately after the Sicilian Vespers (1282) which ended Angevin rule. 

During the period of Muslim rule under Emirate of Sicily.   Sicily used a pure green flag, similar to the former national Flag of Libya, Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (1977–2011) under Muammar Gaddafi.

The national flag of the Libyan Jamahiriya. Th...

The national flag of the Libyan Jamahiriya. This is a duplication of File:Flag of Libya.svg by Zscout370, anticipating that because of the ongoing civil war, the filename “Flag of Libya” will not be unambiguous in the near future. An unambiguous description of this flag is that it is the flag of the Libyan Jamahiriya introduced in 1977. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Coat of arms of Sicily

Coat of arms of Sicily (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Flag of the Kingdom of Sicily (1243 to 1410) I...

Flag of the Kingdom of Sicily (1243 to 1410) Italiano: Bandiera del Regno di Sicilia (1243 – 1410) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the flag of the Sicilian Independence ...

This is the flag of the Sicilian Independence Movement of the 1940s and was used by Salvatore Giuliano. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lunch on the Beach – Ristorante La Pineta : Marinella di Selinute – Sicily

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The weather was perfect, about 70 degrees, the sky clear and the Mediterranean breeze so very refreshing.  We were off on an exploration and my senses were heightened with anticipation of what we might encounter. 

We pulled the car over to the side of the road, at the edge of a cliff, sloping steeply to the beach below, as I peered over the edge the most beautiful, isolated beach came into view.

 
It was then that my companions turned to me and informed me that I was in for the culinary experience of a lifetime…………all I saw at the base of the earthen staircase was a small unassuming building with some beach chairs outside. I thought perhaps that we did not share the same culinary visions…………….but I trusted, so off we went to Ristorante La Pineta

I was reminded about so many beach front restaurants that I have visited in the past…………extremely casual, relaxed and promising below mediocre food and service. Inside I groaned and thought of all the other wonderful places on the island of Sicily we could now be. Then it began………….
A pure symphony of food and service…………I nearly swooned and soon forgot that there were any others in my presence; I so became one with this culinary experience. The very lines between reality and the tastes, smells and vision of the most marvelous food became blurry and the air around me seemed to shimmer with the perfect harmony of smell, taste and sight. This was nirvana!

I had been transported to a celestial table and Edesia herself was presiding over this magic.

The notes awaiting the skillful hands of the Chef to arrange them into a marvelous symphony

The antipasto arrived one dish at a time………..here they are nestled together…..

Octopus – Swordfish – Anchioves – Shrimp

…but now it was time……..the orchestra had warmed up and the room filled with the fullness of the majesty of the symphony…..

The melodic sweet and light clams dancing like the notes of the woodwinds in front of the uplifting notes of the French Horn – Trombone and Trumpet Pasta entwined by the Drums – Snares and Tympani of the Olive Oil and Herbs

……….the composer does not rest……….. he completes the symphony by joining the complex movement of Mussels – Shrimp – Clams into a euphony that brings the participants to a near euphoria….

the eyes are rolling back, the palms sweating profusely………the heart no longer rhymthic….the conducter senses that the audience must be calmed and introduces

a simple melody of fresh fruit to return us back to the earthly plane……..


………..we slump in our chairs and hold on to the fleeting glory that just passed us ……… like satiated lovers…..

we wander into the sunlight and delight in our experience….

The Ruins of Selinunte – Sicily

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Flag of the Sicilian Region Italiano: Bandiera...

Flag of the Sicilian Region Italiano: Bandiera della Regione Siciliana Sicilianu: Bannera dâ Riggiuni Siciliana Deutsch: Flagge der Sizilianischen Region (oder der Autonomen Region Sizilien) Français : Drapeau de la Région Sicilienne Español: Bandera de la Región Siciliana Português: Bandeira da Região Siciliana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea; along with surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the ”Regione Autonoma Siciliana”

Sicily is located in the central Mediterranean. It extends from the tip of the Apennine peninsula from which it is separated only by the narrow Strait of Messina, towards the North African coast. Its most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, which is the tallest active volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world. 

The earliest archeological evidence of human dwelling on the island dates from 8000 BC. At around 750 BC, Sicily became a Greek colony and fell under the rule of the Normans, the Crown of Aragon, Crown of Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, and finally the Bourbons, as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It was united with the rest of Italy in 1860, but a subsequent economic collapse led to  separatism and the emergence of the Mafia, whose criminal activities pose problems to this day. After the birth of the Italian Republic in 1946, Sicily was given special status as an autonomous region.

Selinunte was one of the most important of the ancient Greek colonies in Sicily, situated on the southwest coast of the island, at the mouth of the small river of the same name.   It was founded, according to historian Thucydides, by a colony from the Sicilian city of Megara, under the conduct of a leader named Pammilus, about 100 years after the settlement of that city, with the addition of a fresh body of colonists from the parent city of Megara in Greece.   

The date of its foundation cannot be precisely fixed, as Thucydides indicates it only by reference to that of the Sicilian Megara, which is itself not accurately known, but it may be placed about 628 BCE.   The name is supposed to have been derived from quantities of wild parsley that grew on the spot. For the same reason, they adopted the parsley leaf as the symbol on their coins.


We found the site to be most incredible, in most by the fact that we were the ONLY people visiting it! This is truly one of the most undiscovered beautiful sites on our planet. The majestic ruins were so wonderful to enjoy without the usual rabble of tour guides boasting their ignorance by providing incorrect information.

It was a most impressive, magical, mystical, inspiring and historically overwhelming visit. If you are ever in Italy, you must try to make a visit to this most wonderful place.