Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hello from Sicily

I apologize to all who have been watching this space. I arrived safe and sound on the 18th, but didn't get around to composing anything. Jet lag was awful, the airline lost my luggage, and I finally broke down and borrowed a fresh outfit from my roommates today while my t-shirt is drying. It feels so strange to be in clean clothes.

On the happier end of the scale, I have been learning some Italian and exploring the island of Ortigia, which is a smaller island off of the mainland where the oldest part of Siracusa is. I am living right next door to the oldest temple in Siracusa, the Temple of Appolo. It's a beautiful ruin right now. They have it fenced off, and it is certainly at odds with the very modern surroundings. I saw another temple yesterday originally didicated to Athena, then turned into a Catholic church, a mosque during one of the Arab occupations, and then back to a church again. It is dedicated to the Madonna, and it is the cathedral for Siracusa. It also holds the bones of the first bishop of Siracusa, of a pope (I think it is Zosimus, but I can't be sure if he even was a pope, or if I'm thinking of someone else entirely. The sign was in Italian, and pretty complicated Italian at that.), and of Saint Lucy. There is also a statue of Saint Lucy, the patron saint of Sicily, outside of the church in her traditional pose, with her eyes on a platter. Pictures of these things will be forthcoming, except for the relics. I thought it was not a good idea to take a picture of those. Not exactly respectful or something.

The city is beautiful. As I said before, pictures will come as soon as I get my luggage situation under control. You see postcards of Siracusa and stuff like that. What they don't tell you is that the entire city looks like that! A great deal of the buildings match more or less in style because of the earthquake of 1693 that wiped out most of the city. They rebuilt it entirely in Baroque style. (love) There are no really wide streets here, so all of the cars are smart cars or have evidence of being in wrecks involving getting stuck between buildings multiple times. The people who drive these cars are kind of insane. I'd be hyperventillating if I had to drive through something that narrow. Signs are optional, labels are almost nonexistant, and really you are taking your life into your own hands whenever you go down an alley. It isn't because there are sketchy people or anything. Well, there are, but I manage my risks. There just aren't any sidewalks or crosswalks. I guess the scary guys are worried about getting run over as well, because I don't see too many. Well, at least apart from the normal Sicilian men.

Sorry, Mom, but Sicilian guys are known for being so forward that it seems rude. I don't think that a foreign romance is in my future, despite your musings on the subject. It is perfectly normal for men to whistle and shout at you as you walk by. One girl on the trip even got impromptu serenaded. I hope that that will get reduced a bit as soon as we get a bit better at fitting in.

The food is incredible here. The cost of living is a bit cheaper as well, so it is perfectly feasible to get an amazing lunch for 1,50 euros. Today for that amount I got a panini with prosciutto, olive oil, herbs, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella. The fresh mozzarella was definitely the best part of the sandwich. I got it from this little hole in the wall place that was pointed out to me by another student. I don't think that I would have even gone in if I hadn't been told about it. This entire city is like that. It is kind of like a rough diamond. It is constantly offering surprises and exceeding your expectations.


MO said...

Oh, Anne, many surprises to love.

swamp mom said...

I'm so jealous. MO and I will someday visit there! The news from Italy here says that in Naples the garbage workers are on strike and there are tons of trash piling up in the streets. So if you plan a side trip, be careful. Love you!