catacombs, ruins, a mikvah and a parking-ticket8th entry – italy 2014

Sept-4 007Siracusa so much that we decided to go back again today. We drove and parked in Ortigia and went walking.

We began in the Catacombs of San Giovanni an amazing necropolis. The Greeks had carved an aqueduct with cisterns into the rock-base that the city sits on and later the Romans and Christians carved catacombs out of the aqueduct creating a vast network of tunnels. The necropolis is laid out like a Roman army settlement. It’s so large, you take a tour with a guide.

Our next stop was the Greek Archeological Park. (Greeks from the city-state of Corinth established Siracusa around 729 BCE.) At the site, we saw the Greek Theater and Archimedes tomb. The theater is carved into the mountain creating an amazing sound amplifier.

From the top of the hill that was the new city at the time of the Greeks, we walked back to Ortigia and the market where I bought the things needed for supper. I made pasta with a tomato and tuna dressing. (This is Rose’s recipe.) We also bought prickly-pears and Rick-and-Sarah got to try them for the first time. (We bought them because they were already skinned avoiding the dreaded spine-needles.) Done with out shopping, we headed out to get some lunch,

At 3:00, we got back to the Jewish Quarter to take the tour of the Mikvah. The ritual-bath is under a palazzo that has been re-purposed as a hotel. The bath was discovered when the hotel began its renovation of the site. The volume was filled with earth. In the renovation they removed over 200 truck load of dirt before they had they had uncovered the original ritual baths. (In 1492, after an edict from Ferdinand and Isabelle of Spain that demanded all Jews in Siracusa to either convert or leave the city, the majority left. Before the exodus, the owners of the Mikvah filled it in with earth and stone.) The ritual bath is an amazing legacy from ancient time.

We return to the car, tired and ready for the drive back to Modica and there on the windshield was a parking ticked. In Italy, if you pay within 5 days there is a 30% reduction. Tomorrow, we will go to the post office to pay the ticket. (Yes, you pay parking violations at the post office, go figure. And I bet you’re wondering how I know this – let me just say this isn’t the first ticket I ever got here in the land of bureaucracy and sunshine.)