Tag Archives: Syracuse

Beautiful countryside in Sicily: Floridia

We have been to Sicily, Italy, a few times. Sicily offers so much to see and enjoy. The island is beautiful.

Etna, the active stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily, the yellow lemon fields, the green vineyards, the small but amazing beaches, the historical and old citys and fabulous small villages not to mention the beautiful countryside – they all create a fantastic scenery, which you will love.

Etna rises high next to Catania airport. Etna is tremendous.

ps. click the photos to view them in a larger size

Etna Sicily

The green vineyards seem to go on forever.

Sisilia viinitarha

Last time we rented a house in Floridia. It is found just 12 kilometers from the historical city of Syracuse. Syracuse lies next the to sea, the magnificient Mediterranean. The buildings in Syracuse are so fascinating, you can spend a whole day just admiring them.

Syracuse

The town center of Floridia is not as fascinating as the city of Syracuse. Here’s one photo we took when strolling in the town.

Floridia city_2

But there are many nice places in Floridia. We found a neat coffee shop and enjoyed a double espresso, a glass of cold water (it was 39 C!) and a delicious chocolate pastry. All this costs only a few euros. Amazing.

Coffee shop in Floridia

The owner of the rental house, in the beautiful countryside outside Floridia,  was Salvo. He was in our eyes as Sicilian as one can be. Short, friendly and skin as dark as a roasted coffee bean. The colour of his skin came from all the long hours under the hot Sicilian sun. Salvo worked outside most of the day. He also had a beautiful horse, which had won many prizes.

Salvo spoke Sicilian, which is not the same as my basic school Italian. I understood every fourth word he said, but we got along great.

Floridia house owner

The house we rented was great. It was bigger than we needed, but as it situated in a great area, next to Syracuse, and the price was fair, we decided to rent it.

Here’s a photo of the front of th house. As the day temperature was often almost 40 C, it was nice to have a place in the shadow. It was unusually hot for the month of June.

Entrance to Floridia house

There was a large patio on the roof, where you could dry your laundry or just admire the scenery. We admired the scenery. We had our binoculars with us and also a great camera.

In this photo you see the driveway to the house. You can also see all the way to the next small town, up on a hill.

View towards Solarino

We had a huge swimming pool in the backyard. This is how it looked seen from the roof 🙂

Floridia_swimming pool

More stories to come. Stay tuned 🙂

 

Italy: Madonna delle lacrime, Museo archeologico and the Italian food

SANTUARIO MADONNA DELLE LACRIME DI SIRACUSA

“The Basilika and Shrine of Our Lady of Tears” situates close to the archeological museum on Viale Teocrito. It was built in 1950s. The style of the church is futuristic and looks like a tear. The story of this church is amazing:

From 29 August to 1 September 1953, a plaster plaque of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, placed over the headboard of the bed of a young couple, Angelo Iannuso and Antonina Giusto, at 11 Via degli Orti St., shed human tears.

Many saw, touched, gathered and tasted the salt of the tears.

On Sunday, 30 August an amateur film maker of Syracuse, Nicola Guarino, was able to capture the event on film, making this one of the very few miraculous happenings with such documentation.

On 1 September, at 11:00 a.m., a Commission of doctors and analysts went to the Iannuso home sent by the Chancery of the Archdiocese of Syracuse. They withdrew a sample of the liquid that flowed from the eyes. The microscopic analysis verified: “They are human tears.” After the scientific analysis, on the fourth day of the lachrymation, the weeping ceased.

With a height of 74 meters (242 feet) Madonna delle Lacrime is the highest building in Syracuse.

Kyynelehtivän madonnan kirkko_1

MUSEO ARCEOLOGICO SIRACUSA

The archeological museum in Syracuse is worth a visit. Its address is Viale Teocrito, 66. There are three buildings. You will enter via a nice park filled with plam trees.

Ile archeological museum

The first part of the museum houses the most ancient finds from the Palaeolithic to the historical age.

ps. to enlarge the photos, click on them 😉

Museo archeologico di Siracusa

The second part is devoted to the Greek settlements, and most of the material originates from Megara Hyblaea and Syracuse. The collection of Greek vases, mainly from Attica, found in the necropolis of Syracuse is particularly rich.

The third area is devoted to the Syracusan outpost of Eloro and to the Syracuse’s subcolonies of Akrai, Kasmenai and Kamarina. 

LA CUCINA ITALIANA

If you enjoy delicious food you will love Sicily.  There is so much to choose from. Fish, vegetables, fruit, pasta, meat, pizza, ice cream, pastries etc.

Cozze gratinate are gratinated clams. Delicious. Carpaccio di spada is swordfish marinated in oil and lemon. A great recipe can be found here. Grilled swordfish is also worth tasting. Arancini are fried rice balls with meat or mushrooms and mozzarella cheese.

And don’t forget the fabulous Italian ham – prosciutto. There are many different kinds of prosciutto and I recommend to taste them all.

prosciutto di parma

Pasta con le sarde sounds strange but tastes so good. It is a pasta dish with a sauce made of fennel, raisins and anchovies. Be brave and try it. Also sun-dried tomatoes are extremely tasty. If you add them to any dish, you make a great choice.

Of course one has to eat some pizza in Italy. Our favourite one is Pizza Diavola, which is made of spicy pepperoni, delicious tomato sauce and rich mozzarella cheese. We usually ask for some mushroom flakes on top. Mind-blowing.

pizza diavola_2

Italy: Etna, Catania and Syracuse

HELSINKI – ROME – CATANIA

In 2004 my husband and I decided to enjoy an adventure. We wanted to see something interesting in Europe, not too far from Finland and where it would be around 20 C (68 F) during the day. We chose to make a trip to Sicily, Italy.

We decided to visit the area around Syracuse and the small towns further south. Most people visit Palermo and the beaches north of Catania (Taormina and Naxos) – later in the summer time.

Unfortunately there were no direct flights to Sicily, so we had to fly to Rome, then take a connecting flight to Catania.

What an experience it is to see the Rome International Airport for the first time!

We had only 1 hour between our flights. I give you a hint – reserve at least 2 hours between connecting flights. Your day will be less stressful.

fiumicino airport

MOUNT ETNA

The flight from Rome to Catania, an Italian city on the east coast of Sicily facing the Ionian Sea, was short. The view from the plane was awesome. The Mediterranean Sea is for sure one of the most beautiful seas, especially when the sun makes the water glitter.

When I saw Mount Etna, the active stratovolcano of Sicily, I found my disposable camera (back then that was normal…) and took some pictures. It was an amazing moment.

Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of activity.

Etna lentokoneesta katsottuna

CATANIA

We did not visit Catania this time. It is the second largest city in Sicily. If you like a hectic lifestyle and chaotic traffic, visit Catania. The nightlife is well known and you will find plenty of bars to choose from.

The city is known for its seismic history, having been destroyed by a catastrophic earthquake in 1169, another in 1693, and several volcanic eruptions from the neighbouring Mount Etna volcano.

Catania city and Etna
SYRACUSE

It is about 70 kilometers from Catania to Syracuse. We had chosen Hotel Helios. Helios was OK but not as great as advertised. Back in 2004 our budget was small, otherwise I would have chosen another hotel.

Hotel H and me

If you visit Syracuse you might want to stay at Mercure Siracusa Prometeo or at Jolly Hotel Aretusa. These are in the center of the city. Best choice might though be to book a room at Grand Hotel Ortigia, which is in the old town (called Isola Ortigia). Also Hotel Roma is a great choice.

In Syracuse, population 125.000, the cultural history is mixed with Italian city life. But just a short drive away you can enjoy the small and beautiful beaches, rocky shores and the fabulous countryside.

Pachino Sicily_2

PIAZZA ARCHIMEDE

An evening in the old town of Syracuse (called Ortigia) will fill you with great memories. Just before sunset we took a taxi to the old town and searched for Trattoria Archimede, which our hotel clerk had recommended. We had asked where do the Italians eat dinner. Sicilia in Tavola is another great restaurant offering great traditional food.

We arrived a bit early. Italians eat later, after 8 pm. We are hungry before 7 pm. We decided to hang out at Piazza Archimede for an hour. Great decision. The piazza is beautiful. And quite old. It was opened in 1878.

Piazza Archimede Syracuse

While sipping a cold drink at the terrace of a nice bar,  Banco di Sicilia and the other old buidings around you whisper stories of ancient Sicilian times and lifestyle.

I can warmly recommend to visit Sicily. There is so much to see as well as to taste!