Ortigia

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After a late night spent googling for parking directions (I think that driving/parking is my biggest source of anxiety here in Sicily. Huge- by Sicilian standards- minivan plus narrow streets, tiny parking spots, congestion and ZTL zones…. almost too much for my rule following, don’t really like surprises/spontaneity self!) we headed out in the morning to Siricusa, more specifically the island of Ortigia. Ortigia is the historical capitol of Siricusa; an island approximately 500m x 1km in dimension that has a history steeped in Greek Myth. Legend has it that the Greek goddess Leto gave birth to Artemis, and perhaps Apollo, on the island. If you’re looking for a great day trip from the Catania area, Ortigia can’t be beat. Clean, with ample public (paid) off street parking, pedestrian friendly and full of beauty.

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The duomo was beautiful. Originally a temple to Athena, the church has been remodeled and added to many times over the centuries.

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We recently read a book called The Clown of God about a juggling clown who hailed from Sorrento. At the end of the story, the clown juggles in the cathedral in Sorrento as an offering to the statue of Mary and Jesus. The conclusion of the story is that Jesus, of the statue, catches the golden ball that the elderly clown had been juggling, just as he fell dead, and the ball became a part of the statue. As we first walked into the duomo in Ortigia, Isaac immediately grabbed my hand and said “Mama! Look!” There was a statue of Mary and Jesus, and Jesus was holding a ball. I love that he is able to create these connections and memories! I haven’t been able to find any connection between a factual statue and Sorrento and the one we saw in Ortigia, but I’ll keep searching.

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We had just been talking about how our blue eyed boy hadn’t asked for sunglasses for months. The bright Ortigian sun was too much for him, though. He’s rocking my back-up, always-in-my-purse folding sunglasses that we originally found abandoned on a beach in Northern California.

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 All that remains of the ancient temple of Apollo.

—And a few iPhone pics to round out the day. I only brought my 50mm for the DSLR and instead captured much of the city with my phone.—

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The Northwestern edge of the island is largely residential, comprised of a maze of narrow streets- perhaps more accurately described as pathways.

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The facade of the duomo.

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Lunch at a bar. Two pizza type pastries and one filled with chocolate custard, topped off with gelato for all. We had dark chocolate, toasted almond and toasted pistachio. They were all creamy and yummy, but the pistachio was unforgettable. We’re working our way through Sicily, one scoop of gelato at a time!

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The sensation of walking out of the maze of narrow streets to the wide open vista of the ocean is breathtaking. The light dances on the water and a light breeze toys with your hair. It is impossible not to feel fortunate and happy to be in Ortigia.

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Evidence of the easy parking on a Monday afternoon. Plenty of open spots and 1 of the 2 parking meters was functioning and printing tickets. Bellisima!


  1. Cyndi Parrish

    20 February

    what a wonderful history excursion! you are all so lucky to be able to experience such beautiful sites and make wonderful memories! wish we were there with you! love you all more

  2. Megan

    7 March

    We were just there last week!!! I fell in love with Ortigia! The people are so nice and it was gorgeous. We were there in the evening so the duomo was not open but we had a great meal and a great conversation with the shopkeeper at the store, Olive (you should check it out!). Have you been to Agrigento yet? It is gorgeous and the almond trees are starting to bloom!

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