Monday, November 23, 2015

A Day in Siracusa

Let me just preface this post and the following two by saying that I don't expect every anniversary to be celebrated this extravagantly.  I'm sure there will be years where our anniversary comes and goes with not much more than a card and a kiss.  That being said, we are trying to take advantage of our two years here and a weekend in Sicily sounded like the best way to celebrate our one year anniversary!

Friday actually started out on Thursday night.  Our flight was at 4:00am on Friday, so we decided to head to the airport around 10:00 on Thursday when I got back from work.  We have access to the priority lounge there (thanks AmEx!) so we figured we'd sleep there for a few hours while we still could use the metro and lower the risk of missing our flight.  It's a debate we have every time we book flights.  Is the decrease in price and the lack of people at the airport worth the early flight?  I think it is, but I doubt we'll be sleeping at the airport any more.  It was FREEZING in the lounge and neither of us slept much.  In the future, we'll just enjoy our bed and say a little prayer that we don't oversleep.

When we arrived in Catania, we grabbed a cab to our hotel and passed out for a good two hour nap.  I think Mike was ready to rally, but I needed that nap. I felt like a whole new person. Our trusty guide (the Lonely Planet books) told us that Syracusa was only a train ride away and definitely worth the journey, so we headed towards the train station.   This was our first venture out into Sicily and it was everything I imagined.  The old buildings, the cobblestone streets and the feeling of authenticity was so real.

We stopped for some pizza before boarding the train.  Mike took the opportunity to read and sightsee out the window, while I took the opportunity to nap. 

Once we arrived in Siracusa, we had two options.  The first was the Artifacts Museum, which is where we went.  What we forgot was that Italians take siesta, which resulted in the ticket booth being closed, even though the park was open.  We could see some of the ruins from outside of the fence, but it didn't seem worth it to wait around for, especially since we've done our fair share of ruins.  Instead, we decided to walk back to Ortigia, which is the heart of the city. 

We had been in Italy for about six hours at this point, which was too long to go without gelato, so we stopped and grabbed a few scoops before continuing on our journey.  We had already decided that since we were in Italy and it was our anniversary weekend, calories didn't count.  if only...

Ortigia is the heart of the city and it has this feeling of charm and history.  It's an islet, so it has water to add to the ambiance, but the buildings themselves are quite a beauty.

There are statues everywhere and our only qualm was that they didn't have signs telling us what they were.

The Piazza Duomo was amazing and breathtaking.  It's located on a square where people are just sipping coffee, kids are playing "football" and everything is just very Italian.  I half expected people to walk by just saying things like "Mamma Mia!"

Just past the square is the water.  If you thought things couldn't get more gorgeous, you were wrong.   This view is absolutely breathe taking.

I made Mike pose for a photo shoot. 

The sun glasses had to stay on and the hair had to stay up because I hadn't quite recovered from our overnight journey, but the background definitely makes up for it!

 On the way back from the water, we decided to venture into the duomo.  If you thought it was breathe taking from the outside, you've seen nothing! The inside was just as stunning. As a born and bread Catholic girl, I always appreciate a good Catholic church, but even Mike, who was not raised Catholic, is usually taken aback by their raw beauty.  Plus, I just love walking into a church after being out in the hustle and bustle of a city.  It can be super crowded in the church, but there is this solitude and this understanding that you are in somewhere special.  It's a favorite of mine.

After leaving the church, we had to head back towards the train station, but it wasn't a dreary walk.

After an hour and a half train ride, we were ready for some (more) wine and dinner.  We found a pasta restaurant and shared some mussels (nomz!) and tried some pasta dishes and wine before heading back to the hotel.  Not a bad first day in Italy!