Sicily, Day 14 – November 30, 2016

For the first time in the entire trip, I didn’t sleep well. I heard a  constant sound through the night  that reminded me of an old percolating coffee pot. In the morning, we saw that below our window was a courtyard with a  water fountain that was responsible for the strange sound.

Because we had changed hotels, we were faced with new breakfast  selections. The breakfast included  sweet choices such as granola and six other cereal selections,  fresh fruit including apples and pears, chocolate pudding, and cakes. There were also savory selections such as olives, bruschetta, ham, salami, and mortadella. And there were  “American” breakfast choices such as hard boiled eggs and bread with butter.

Our first stop for the day was the Parco Archeologico della Nepalis. It seems that by now, we would have had our fill of archaeology, but this site was totally different. Rather than a collection of artifacts, it is the ruins of an ancient city. One of its highlights is a 5th century BC theater carved out of the rock. The tragedies of Aeschylus were first performed here  in his presence.

Next to the theater is the Latomia del Paradiso, which was used as a prison. The acoustics enabled the guards to eavesdrop on the prisoners. There are also the remains of the 2nd century Anfiteatro Romano. The Spanish destroyed the site in the 16th century to  use the rock to build the city walls of Ortygia.

Susanna treated everyone to  sandwiches for lunch. Our sandwich consisted of a hollowed out sesame seed roll filled with roasted peppers, tomatoes, smoked mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, sliced ham, lettuce, radicchio, crushed olives, grated cheese, fresh ricotta, and mortadella with pistachios. Dagwood, eat your heart out!

After lunch we went to the Chiesa di Santa Lucia alla badia. The church is built on the spot where Santa Lucia, the patron saint of Siracusa, was martyred. Before being martyred, Lucia lost her eyes. The church houses  Caravaggio’s Seppellimento di Santa Lucia. Nearby, you can see columns from an ancient structure that are part of  the towns’ Duomo. We walked back to our hotel in time for Happy Hour in the bar.

This was followed by a visit to the Vaccaro-Mauceri Puppet Theater. The Vaccaro-Mauceri family has been performing puppet shows in their theater for more than a century. The pupari (puppeteers)  manage both the theater and the nearby laboratory in which the puppets are made. They still make each puppet entirely by hand, with a core made of painted wood, armatures in embossed metal, hand-sewn clothes, and so on. Each “pupo” requires one month of work to complete. 

The shows are entirely in Italian. Some of our fellow travelers wished that there had been English subtitles, but Nick and I thought it was more important to enjoy the magnificent puppets and background scenery, rather than to try to translate the words. While watching the show, the puppets appear to be life sized, but this was an illusion. After the show, the puppeteers showed us that  they were only 2 feet high! This show was a highlight of the trip for both of us.

After the show, we wandered through the town until we could find a restaurant that could accommodate six of us. We enjoyed our dinner with Diane, Ann, Carol and Wendall. Nick and I shared tagliatelle with seafood. We  were  well satisfied without dessert.

We walked 15,880 steps, 7.5 miles and climbed the equivalent of 57 flights of stairs.

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