The day is still young and long. So, we take some time to visit the Parco Archeologico della Neapoli in Syracuse. We stroll curiously through the park and marvel, a Greek theatre from the 5th century BC, the ear of Dionysius (an artificial grotto 23m high), source of two aqueducts, one of the largest Roman amphitheatres from the 3rd century AD.
At 3 p.m. at last, we can move into our apartment in Aci Trezza. We are bone tired and happy to put our legs up and rest a little.
January 13th, we met a gentleman from Couchsurfing in Catania. He wants to show us his hometown from his side. We get on bus # 534 in the village square and drive into the city centre. The bus ticket costs just 1 euro per person for 90 minutes and is sold at kiosks in Sicily. Catania is the 2nd largest city on the island. Gaëtan shows us hidden corners, churches, markets & street food stalls in Catania. The day is coming to an end, and before we hop on the bus again, we go shopping in Lidl 😊
Villa Romana del Casale, Enna, Villagio Bizantino
January 15th. Today we drive by car towards the inner of the island. At 10:30 a.m. we enter the grounds of Villa Romana. This Roman villa was probably built between AD 310 and 325. The floor of almost all rooms in the property is covered with mosaics made of coloured tesserae (small square stones) and consists of around 120 million individual stones.
At lunchtime we find ourselves in Enna. At the castle we have lunch and enjoy a few rays of sunshine on our faces. The city leaves no special impression on us.
On a narrow path (for our car) we reach the Villagio Bizantino. On this spot of earth, we discovered caves that date from the Byzantine Empire.
Monti Sartorius (North Etna)
January 17th. SNOW!!! The children are finally happy to knead this wet, cold mass into balls or sled down a small hill with a plastic bag under their buttocks. We hike to 1667m above sea level on the Monti Sartorius. Amazingly, we have no problems with the altitude, only Pablo does not feel so comfortable today. The view of Mount Etna from this side, this landscape covered with black earth, is simply impressive.
Crateri Silvestri (Etna south)
January 23rd. 5 days ago, we were on the other side of Mount Etna, now we are visiting the southern slope. Pablo was in bed with gastrointestinal flu, much better today.
Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe at around 3323 meters above sea level. We visit some side craters. The hike back and forth to the main crater would take over 5 hours and is very steep, so we leave it to the smaller side craters. We enjoy the day to the fullest and soak up some (a lot) of sun 😊.
Catania - Randazzo - Catania
January 24th, train ride! Today we are going around the Etna by train. In Catania Borgo we get on an (for us) ancient train (only one car). The weather doesn't want us too well today, it's cloudy! We don't see Mount Etna once during the entire trip. The train only goes to Randazzo, a small pretty town in the north / east. After a 1 hour stay, we continue with another (still ancient train wagon) to Riposto, where we change to the normal TrenItalia to get back to Catania.
Syracuse & C.’s birthday
Today is C. big day, she is already 10 years old (January 27th). WHAT? Well, time just doesn't stand still 😉. One of C.'s many birthday wishes is, to spend her day in CIRAcusa (is a bit her cousin city, her grandma calls her sometimes that 😊). We are happy to give her this wish, as the journey from Aci Trezza to Syracuse takes exactly 1 hour and 13 minutes. The other wishes were a bit more complicated. The first order did not arrive (I think I stumbled into an internet trap☹). So, order the whole thing again. This time it worked, and I was able to catch the postman directly on the street. (Anecdote: The house number is somewhat hidden. My other own order was not delivered, and I had to pick it up at the depot. Not easy, 1. pick up a package in Italian and 2. my name was forgotten on the address label). Now we are all happy with our gifts and can go to Syracuse.
For centuries, Syracuse was the largest and most powerful polis in Sicily and its cultural centre. We immediately like the city. We saw very beautiful renovated and restored houses, certainly one reason why Syracuse has been listed by UNESCO since 2005.
January 28, 2020. We are on our way to the mainland. We will spend the night somewhere in the middle of south Italy to be in Brindisi on January 29th at 9:00 p.m., where the ferry to Patras leaves.
First, we stop in Taormina, it’s a must. The only public & free parking lot is down by the train station. Well, then we just climb up the mountain stairs to visit the town. On top at least, we are rewarded with an enchanting view.