Sicily. The Magic of Etna and Almond Blossom
The Cathedral of Santa Maria delle Colonne is the main church of the Sicilian city of Syracuse. It is located at the highest point of the island of Ortygia, which is the settlement center and the oldest district of the ancient city. The building incorporates large parts of an ancient temple dedicated to Athena.
During the 7th century at was converted into a church, initially in Byzantine style. After a succession of renovations and expansions during the following centuries, the cathedral offers today a unique architectural mixture. In addition to the parts of the ancient temple, which are still recognizable as such, elements of Byzantine architecture, Norman Romanesque and Sicilian Baroque are united in it.
Around 730 BC Greek settlers from Corinth founded the city of Syrakusai on the island of Ortygia. The city expanded rapidly to the mainland and developed into the largest and most powerful city of ancient Sicily. Syracuse played a significant role in the development of science, art and culture. Plato and Archimeds, to name only a few, lived and taught in the city.
Around 480 BC a doric Temple of Victory was built and dedicated to Athena.
212 BC the Romans conquered Syracuse. Over 100 years later Marcus Tullius Cicero described Syracuse as the largest and most beautiful of all Greek cities.
The freshwater spring of Fonte Aretusa is just a few meters from the sea. The water basin is set with stones and framed by papyrus. According to legend, the Greek nymph Arethusa turned into a spring to escape the pursuits of a hunter, and sprang from Ortigia. The hunter Alpheios then turned into a river and, without mingling with the sea, reached the island Ortigia to unite with the Aretusa. In antiquity, the nymph enjoyed great veneration, because the source allowed the founding of the city and secured its resistance during enemy sieges.
Its water actually flows undersea below the harbor bay.
Street Food and Restaurants in Syracus
The island of Lipari, together with its neighbouring islands Stromboli, Salina, Vulcano, Panarea, Filicudu and Alicudi, belongs to the archipelago of the Aeolian
Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea. These islands ar of volcanic origin.
The earliest colonization of the islands can be traced back to the Middle Neolithic (about 5500-5000 BC). The abundance of obsidian and the trade with it made Lipari an important economic centre during the Neolithic period. Importance and wealth of the island decreased significantly during the Copper Age and the beginning of the Bronze Age, as obsidian deposites were mined on the Greek islands of Melos as well as the increasing use of metals.
Hiking on the island Vulcano
Hiking on Lipari
After the Aeolian Islands the journey goes back to the south of Sicily. We make a short stopover in Cefalù. The city is located on the northern coast of Sicily at the foot of the Rocca di Cefalù, a 270 meter high limestone cliff. Most of the houses in the old town date back to the 16th century.
Then the journey continues to Agrigento, where we visit the Valle dei Templi.
Valle Dei Templi