21.03.2014 - 28.03.2014 18 °C
A short ferry ride takes us from mainland Italy to the island of Sicily and despite it being only about 30 minutes away; it feels like a different country.
First impressions are good. As we cross the channel, the sun is shining and the water is so clear you can see right to the bottom of the sea floor, and then the chaos begins. Once you leave the ferry you drive through Messina, without a doubt the craziest city in all of Italy. We arrive just as school finishes. People running out in front of cars, cars are double, sometimes triple parked, red lights are ignored, car horns fill the air, buses doing U-turns and all other road rules are out the window. Once out of the chaos it seemed we spent 80% of the time driving through tunnels with the occasional glimpse at beautiful mountainous terrain and coastline vistas. After about an hour and a half we arrive at our first Sicilian stop - Cefalu.
We checked into our cosy apartment with ocean views. The sun was shining and we were excited to be spending three nights in this beautiful fishing village. Castle ruins from the Byzantine period sitting on top of a rock (la rocca) complete the backdrop. Walks into town, a seafood lunch to celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary and a hike to the top of the rock to explore the castle ruins filled our days.
Before we knew it we were once again packing our bags ready for our next destination – Agrigento.
There is only one reason to visit Agrigento – the Valley of the Temples. We decided to stay in a hotel for the night and after check-in headed straight out. The Greek temples are 2500 years old and sit atop a ridge below the city. They are almost toylike in appearance and certainly dominate the city. Seeing the 1500-year-old olive tree that sits beside one of the temples was an added bonus.
The next day we headed to our final Sicilian destination – Siracusa.
Siracusa was the original Greek settlement in Sicily in 700BC on the island of Ortigia. Remains of a temple built for Apollo dating back to 600BC is still visible and the city’s church has been built to encompass the temple of Athena. A trip to the Archaeological Park where the Greek and Roman Amphitheaters reside and an ancient quarry that the Greeks used to build the temples, now with with caves and caverns that visitors are free to explore. By far these are the oldest ruins we have seen on our trip, a textbook come to life!!
Unfortunately Siracusa did not live up to my expectations. Apart from the small shopping strip, I found Siracusa to be extremely dirty. On the up side, the water was crystal clear, the cannoli’s were amazing, the cappuccinos were the best in Italy and our apartment was spacious with a good shower! Oh and Bret cooked up the best Fish Soup we have ever eaten!
Next stop Tropea.