Here’s another entry from my cousin, crew member and our Britican chef, Loryn. If you haven’t read her last post, read it here: Never Could I Imagine This Would Happen On My Adventures.
So…Early this year I agreed to join my cousin, Kim, her husband, Simon and their daughter, Sienna on their boat Britican. Thus far, my adventures have taken me from Fredonia, New York, my hometown, to England, Gibraltar, Algeria, Tunisia, Malta and here I am now writing about getting to Sicily!
April 19th, 2014 we arrived in the southern tip of Sicily called Marzamemi
Italy has always been a dream of mine to visit so my heart was jumping in joy knowing I’ve finally made it. The marina we stayed at was very welcoming even though we did not speak the same language. Its quite amazing though how much you can communicate to each other without even knowing what each other are saying. I think once I leave Italy I’m going to make hand gestures for everything I’m trying to say. Kim and I find ourselves explaining stuff to each other but acting it out with our hands. We just start giggling and say what are we even doing?
Soon after we moored the boat, another sail boat moored up right next to us
A boat full of Sicilian people that would soon turn out to be some of the best friends and people we could of ever imagined to meet.
It’s Easter Sunday and I woke up to one happy little girl, Sienna. The Easter Bunny had visited in the night hiding Easter eggs and goodies for her to find. I sat and watched the excitement with a smile on my face just feeling like a kid again.
After all the commotion of the morning Simon went down to the yacht club to bring the rubbish to the bin and inquire about seeing if we could rent a car for a few days. Being it was Easter Sunday we were not thinking our chances were very good. To our amazement not only did he find out that one of the Italian people on the boat next to us spoke English, but there was one car left for us to rent.
We all just jumped around in excitement knowing our adventures into Sicily were about to get interesting
Stefano the English speaking gentlemen not only turned out to be a retired Admiral to the Italian Navy, but has become one of the dearest friends to all of us. He helped Simon set up all the plans for getting the car delivered and gave us good direction for places to visit. Seeing it was Easter Sunday he said the processions in Noto, a city about one hour away was a sight we shouldn’t miss. He explained how to get there, where to find the main center and places we should stop to eat at. He also discussed how every 25km in Sicily the food changes. It will all taste different even though its the same dish. With our love of food we were prepared to try everything.
Off we go driving through the hills of Sicily on our way to Noto
I just watched in amazement. All the hills and lowlands were filled with orange, lemon and olive trees that filled the air with this sweet fragrance of flowers. I can’t even describe the aromatics they are just so spectacular that I wished I could capture them in a jar, save them forever and make all my belongings smell like it.
There were so many greenhouses filled to the roof with tomatoes and other vegetables. Everything was so green and lush! Jasmine and lavender bushes cascaded the hill sides. I just felt as if we were driving in a dream world.
Driving on the other hand in Sicily is far from a dream land
Everyone drives so fast, they pass you with other vehicles coming, they drive so close to your bumper honking the horn, pull right out in front of you and never stay in their lane. It’s like driving in a video game. I often found my self convincing my eyes to just not pay any attention and hope for the best.
We rounded a corner to see Noto in the distance – and what a history!
What a beautiful city we were about to visit that is very proud of it’s ancient origins. In 452 BC the Sicilian leader Ducetius unified the Sicel people and led rebellions against the Greeks succeeding by fortifying positions and then redistributing land.
Most of the eastern side of Sicily was destroyed in 1693 from a massive earthquake and reconstructed in a Baroque style. Noto was rebuilt entirely in the Baroque style constructed mostly from soft locally quarried Tufa stone that has turned a golden shade after years of sun. The softness of the stone made it very capable to carve intricate designs in. The blueprints were made to specifically include vistas of the countryside.
We found the center of the city very quickly but parking was another issue
If you have any kind of a big car parking is almost impossible and of course the only car left that we rented was the biggest Mercedes ever. After driving around for a bit we finally parked and made our way to the center. Almost too late, we still caught the tail end of the processions. There was confetti flying, crosses with Jesus being paraded about and people everywhere just watching the festivities.
I looked around in awe
There where beautiful big churches, theaters, lush gardens, fountains, ruins, landmarks, quaint little side streets and so many places to eat. So of course that meant we should stop for a pizza.
The pizza’s in Sicily are so gigantic and delicious
I usually have no idea what i’m ordering since it’s all in Italian, so I just point to something and wish for the best. Good thing I haven’t ordered anything crazy on accident yet. Yikes!
We walked the streets of Noto taking in all the beautiful sights while working off the humongous pizza we just ate. What a wonderful and blessed day.
On our adventure back to the boat in Marzamemi, we stopped at an ancient Roman Villa that dated back 2000 plus years. Simon was so excited to see the ruins but when we got to the ticket window they only excepted cash. I was outside and thought maybe I’ll go in and see if they’ll except some American dollars. The women who couldn’t understand a word I was saying and vise versa, must have felt bad for me because she let the four of us in for free! OMG what a remarkable piece of history we got to examine first hand. The mosaics were absolutely fascinating as well as the remaining architecture. I had an overwhelming feeling of wishing I could be transported back in time to experience the Villa in it’s prime.
I just felt so fortunate and filled with happiness
On our walk back to the car I couldn’t resist myself from picking a couple lemons from one of the hundred lemon trees surrounding us. I thought do you think someone will catch me and be mad. They just looked so wonderful and delicious, and the aroma they emitted was euphoric. I just wanted some so bad.
It’s funny though I should be careful what I ask for because ever since that day we’ve had more lemons given to us as gifts then we could possibly imagine. I guess you know the saying if God gives you to many lemons make some lemonade.
The next day we decided while we still had our rental car we should drive up to Syracuse a City on the East coast of Sicily
The City was founded in 733 BC by Corinthian settlers that became one of the first Greek colonies in Sicily and rival to Athens. It’s considered the mighty powerhouse of the Magna Graecia due to the extension of territory through warfare. This resulted in the City becoming the strongest in the Mediterranean. It was divided into five zones Epipolae, Akradina, Tyche, Neapolis and Ortygia. Syracuse is about 1/3 of the size today then it was back then but still breathtaking and full of history.
We drove around the City finding our way to Neapolis where we explored the remains of a Greek Theatre (6th century BC), a Roman Amphitheater (3rd century AD), Latomia del Paradiso (stone quarry used to construct all of Syracuse), the Altar of Hieron II (225 BC) and the Catacombs of San Giovanni. Wow is all I have to say!
Just having the opportunity to visit all these sites has been mind blowing!
We then drove to Ortygia which is a tiny Island off of Syracuse that surprisingly we would later sail to and stay for the weekend. We finally found parking and made our way through the tiny tiny side streets. All of a sudden the street opened up and there stood the remains of the Temple of Apollo built in 575 BC. Two monolithic sandstone columns remain along with many of the exterior colonnade stone columns. Walking up the high street we found wonderful fountains, beautiful churches, a castle, places to eat and shop, and yes ice cream!
I just loved driving back to the boat
The country side is so romantic and amazing. The mountain ranges seem endless, and the aromatics are priceless. I’m one lucky girl with lots to be thankful for!
Read the next article, by Kim, under ‘The Journey’ thread of this website: Sailing around the Greek Ionian Islands – Corfu