Final glimpses

It’s time to bid a final adieu to Sicily with a final batch of photos from the trip.

We make a return visit to the Fountain of Shame in the sunlight for a better look at all the rudey nudeys!

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The details are all the more impressive under the glaring Sicilian sunshine. The weird aquatic fantasy animals seem even more freakish.

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The water is a superbly tempting turquoise but is patrolled by a brisk little security guard so no dipping allowed . .

However today the gates were open to allow you into the inner part of the fountain and up close and personal with the naked folk.

The effect of the sunlight on the white marble is somewhat blinding.

Close up of one of the sinister gargoyle aqua animals ..  a rather creepy elephant

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The man sneaks a covert glimpse at a pert derrière . . . .

I am pretty sure the middle one is a dog . . . not often spotted in the ocean!

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Then it’s onward to enjoy the gorgeous Palermo Cathedral for one last time.

Even more impressive under blue skies instead of the overcast views we had on our first time of viewing.

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Then a final ramble along the back streets to spot some quirky, uniquely Sicilian sights including a decorative cart wheel and a craftsman carving puppets.

Limoncello is a sickly sweet treat while a myriad of views are on sale in the postcard rack.

Mooching to the markets it’s bye bye to the delightful little marzipan Frutta di Martorana.

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Super cute sweets and very fruity pomegranates finish our Sicilian adventure off in style. The island’s an interesting, gritty, chaotic and rather less romantic side of Italian life, but no less worthy of exploring.

 

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More market malarky

We head deeper into the barely contained chaos that is Palermo’s Capo market.

Beset on all sides by jewel bright vegetables, slimy snails and red raw animal heads!

Note how the man looks supremely defensive on all the photos with hands securely over any valuables – markets are prime pickpocketing areas so beware.

Briefly seeking sanctuary from the hubbub on the street we dip into a serene little chapel for a few blissful moments of peace.

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Then it’s back into the commotion to check out pomegranates, saucy peppers and smoking stall holders.

As well as the street stalls there are little shops tucked into alcoves that give glimpses of the daily life of the city. Here Sicilians queue for fresh meat and cheeses.

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Further on we come across more of the fishmongers and their shiny catch. This gentleman wielded his large knives with impunity when hacking up swordfish steaks!

Here’s one of the unlucky fish in all its glory – I love all the details on the wall behind it too.

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Moving on from chopped up fishes we find more rainbow bright vegetables including all these different types of tomatoes.

At odds with his healthy stock, this stall holder puffs away on his ciggy!

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It’s just an orgy of colour and shape and sounds. I might have got snapper’s RSI!

Bearing that in mind I’ll finish up with a glut of colourful shots from the rest of Capo.

Sculptural squashes in a range of delicate oranges and greens provide a naturally pretty display.

Dried fish preserved in salt sit alongside garlic bulbs,wine and characterful stall holders.

Here’s a final look at one of the intricate religious posters that plaster the walls.

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La Vucciria

Palermo’s oldest street market is La Vucciria, which translates to ‘voices’ or ‘hubbub’.

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It’s based in the side streets around Piazza San Domenico and it is Palermo’s most established outdoor market.

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These days it is a somewhat faded and shrunken version of itself and we didn’t stay long. Just long enough to snap some of the street art.

The few stalls that still trade the somewhat shabby and dark alleyways set up early.

However we found other street markets in Palermo to be far more bustling, extensive and photogenic so if you’re pushed for time I’d say skip this market.

Try the far more busy Ballarò and Capo markets to get a real feel for the traditional beating heart of Palermo’s street markets.

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Head for heights

As we continue our tour of the delightful city of Noto we decide to get a different perspective of the sights.

So we headed up the steep spiral staircase at Chiesa di San Carlo’s bell tower to emerge, blinking into the sunlight for stunning views of the city.

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Here’s the Cathedral in all its full glory. We’ll head there later.

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Below is the city’s main street, the Corso Vittorio Emanuele where most of the sights can be found within easy walking distance.

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But what goes up must come down and here’s the narrow, single person width vertiginous staircase!

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I did get wobbly legs at certain points heading back down!!

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Next up there is a veritable orgy of magnets and pottery to be had!!!

Baroque Noto

The next stop on our Sicilian tour is Noto a masterpiece of Sicilian Baroque.

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In 2002 Noto and its church were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The current town, rebuilt after the earthquake in 1693 was planned on a grid system by Giovanni Battista Landolina.

Its flanks of epic buildings, made of soft tufa stone, lead to it being dubbed the “Stone Garden” by Cesare Brandi

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The town is rightly famous for its beautiful 18th century and is considered among the main masterpieces in the Sicilian baroque style.

Above are just some of the impressive buildings to be found including Noto Cathedral.

Above to the right you can see the ornate facade of The church of St. Charles Borromeo.

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Intriguing traditional souvenirs can be found including spinning tops,  a traditional mouth harp also known as  Jew’s Harp.

This unusual item is a small instrument held between the teeth and struck with a finger. It can produce only one note, but harmonics are sounded by the player altering the shape of the mouth cavity.

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Next up we head to the rooftops to take in a bird’s eye view of this beautiful town.

 

Ortigia island

We’re heading for Ortigia – Syracuse’s island heart. Packed full of history and architecture.

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It may be small but it’s crammed with over 2,500 years of history.

As we head to Ortigia we pass The Fountain of Diana by Giulio Moschetti

At Diana’s feet, Alpheus looks on as his love interest Arethusa turns into a fountain after she asks for help to escape him.

She disappears into the ground and escapes to the island of Ortigia. Later we’ll see the spring where she emerged.

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Architectural styles in Ortigia encompass Greek and Roman remains, Mediaeval Norman buildings and Baroque too.

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As well as the old, you can also get some modern quirky sights too!

Here’s another depiction of the symbol of Sicily – the trinacria. A woman’s head surrounded by three legs and wheat.

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We’re heading to the architectural centre of Ortigia first – the Piazza del Duomo.

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The Piazza is home to a stunning Cathedral built on the site of an ancient Temple of Athena.

You can still see the original Doric columns that were incorporated into the building’s main structure.

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The almost clinically clean buildings and blinding sunshine makes it seem like a theatre set.

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Carved decorative stonework can be found everywhere you look.

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Below is one of many statues to be found of St Lucy. A young woman who meet with a grisly end (as saints tend to do)

She was denounced as a Christian and was stabbed in the throat by a dagger.

Local tradition sometimes also mentions that Lucy removed her eyes when complimented her for their beauty while a brand new set of eyes were miraculously restored to her thanks to her faith.

Postcards show another homage to St Lucy.

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More details of the interior.

Below is the Chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia.

This is currently the home of one of Siracusa’s most prized works of art – The Burial of Santa Lucia by Caravaggio

Below is Fonte Aretusa – Siracusa’s most famous mythological site.

The tale goes that the nymph Arethusa, was bathing in the Alpheus River when the god of the river took a liking to her.

She begged to escape and Artemis, in pity ,turned the nymph into a spring, allowing her to escape underground.

She travelled under the sea to emerge here, in Siracusa. Alpheus, though, followed her and mingled his waters with hers for eternity. Romantic eh?

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Then it’s off for a quick look at the sea (and enjoy a bit of breeze)

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The turquoise water is gorgeous and calming after a hot and stifling tour around the sights.

All in all another whirlwind sightseeing day.

Syracuse

Next on our tour of the East coast of Sicily is the town of Syracuse.

This historic 2,700-year-old city played a key role in ancient times, when it was one of the major powers of the Mediterranean world.

It’s a UNESCO world heritage site due to the amount of stunning buildings.

But before we get to that, of course we have to take a detour . .. to a market!

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Colourful prickly pears and red hot chillies are ubiquitous.

From ruby red to sage green, it’s a veritable rainbow of edibles.

Mountains of curry, cloves, peppers, cumin and other heady spices beg to be snapped.

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Pink beans and fancy salad leaves jostle for space with gigantic onions.

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A cornucopia of colourful fruits make the mouth water while tiny striped fish and every green veg imaginable can be found for sale.

More fishes, nuts and pomegranates tumble from every stall.

I can imagine artists and painters having a field day here trying to capture the textures and colours on canvas.

Even if your culinary experience is limited to sticking a ready meal in the oven, you might find yourself a convert to cooking from scratch with all this amazing fresh food!

Next up we take a look at some of the exquisite buildings that Syracuse is famous for.

In the clouds at Castelmola

While the views from Taormina are spectacular, its tiny cousin Castelmola, 1,800 feet above sea level, offers absolutely stunning ones.

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Cobblestones, ruined castles and winding alleys almost devoid of tourists, offer a breathing space.

Although the sun was beginning to go down, as our little bus trundled up the hill towards the village, you begin to appreciate the views.

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You’re dropped off in the main square where pretty cobblestones and terracotta roofs retain the sense of unbroken tradition.

The castle in Castlemola is a ruin. There is little of the castle itself to see, but it’s well worth making the climb for the views. Below is the castle cafe seen from the village square.

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As is common around Sicily, every alleyway is an open air art gallery.

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Heading upwards to the ruined castle finally gives us the most spectacular views of our entire trip.

The name Castelmola apparently comes from the Norman castle dominating the centre of town and from the shape of the rock on which it stands, which vaguely resembles a millstone or “mola”.

A few more colourful details from around the town itself. Apologies for jumping around but this new “improved” WordPress layout seems to be a nightmare for inserting pictures!

Here’s another vertiginous view over the bay from the castle.

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More artwork on the ancient village walls.

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Head down, through Via De Gasperi, the main street of the village, past shops selling lace, embroidery and souvenirs and you pass the Bar Turrisi below which exhibits phalluses of wood, clay and ceramic.

We take a break for pizza and beer at a rustic restaurant and, if you squint, you can see the brooding Mount Etna in the background.

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Gargoyles and grotesques adorn the walls outside the famous Cafe Turrisi which has a bizarre collection of phallic decorations!

Below is the door of the church of San Niccolo’ di Bari .

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