The Ear of the Tyrant
Posted: Sep 24, 2003 9:24:17 AM
I will not be gaunt by the time any of you see me next. Because Sicily has some truly fantastic desserts, and I am taking every opportunity to partake of them. The Tiramisu is fantastic here, for example.
For the last few days I have been meandering my way through Sicily: Palermo for a couple of days, Agrigento for a day, and now I'm enjoying my time in Syracuse (Siracusa). Palermo was a little too big and crowded for me, so I didn't stay long. Agrigento was pleasantly small and easy to navigate in comparison, so I spent a day wandering around the amazing Valley of the Temples, a huge collection of ruined, semi-ruined, and almost-completely-intact Greek temples. Even for someone who has seen the best ruins in Turkey (Ephesus) they were impressive.
The ruins appear just as they do in pictures, but what such pictures never capture is the sheer amount of life in these places: the Tempio di Ercole and Tempio di Giove were crawling with lizards and grasshoppers, for example, and there were some fantastic dragonflies (including several bright scarlet ones) buzzing around parts of Palermo.
Today I'm heading out to explore the ruins of Syracuse, including a fairly famous theatre, amphitheatre, and of course the Orecchio di Dionisio, a prison shaped like an ear used by Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse. Legend has it that the peculiar acoustic properties of the grotto allowed him to overhear secret conversations amongst the prisoners. There's a good museum here as well, I'm told. And then there's the tomb of Archimedes (who was born in Syracuse)... I should stop writing reports and get out to see all these!
And I have a ticket for Malta! I leave this evening on a fast catamaran, arrive in Valletta at 11pm, and then I have almost a full week on the islands before catching another ferry back to Syracuse and then an overnight train all the way to Rome, where (I hope) my revised ticket to Edinburgh is ready and waiting.
It's all sorted, I have checked to make sure that I don't need a visa for Malta (I don't), and I'm eager to get going. The next time I get to Italy it will be nearly winter, and probably very rainy, but rain I can deal with. It's the food that I'll miss, from the fantastic Calzone Cavour I had last night to the wonderful breakfast pastries (croissants filled with vanilla-flavoured cream, flaky pastry filled with ricotta) to the pervasive gelaterias that are (literally) on every second block around here, each with a selection of ice creams, gelatos, and sorbets the likes of which you would never see in New Zealand, or probably anywhere else.
And now I'm getting hungry again too. Okay, must be off; in another fourteen hours I should be in Malta (accidents at sea notwithstanding), and off to explore some more famous ruins and museums (are we detecting a pattern yet?).
This report has been archived - for new reports go here.