Ortigia may be my favourite city in the world. Tagged on to the tip of Siracusa, it is the original Greek city full of laneways, sunshine, surrounded by the Mediterranean; an island connected by a short bridge to the mainland. It's a magical place full of art, history and vital daily life (and lots of tourists (but they all end up in the one or two piazzas). As I wandered the lanes this Sunday morning I passed a choir in rehearsal behind heavy closed doors (exquisite sounds) and ended up having a beer while listening to a string duo in a local cafe/restaurant (MOON). It's the sort of place I could visit time and time again (if only I was wealthy).
This is the view from the balcony of my little bedsit where the water in the taps flows intermittently, where I walk up 60 steps each time I return for a break, which is in a building the other half of which is abandoned. How romantic!
I have made a bold choice for my travels in Sicily. Maybe a little mad. Last year we were here and met a young woman, Nicola, born in Kent, UK, but with heritage in Campania in southern italy. She is one quarter Italian (as am I) and has been living in Siracusa for the past 15 months reconnecting with her roots. We hit it off and when I informed her of my trip to the north and my interest in exploring Italy further she said 'why not come to Sicily and do a road trip?' It was a simple and as innocent as that. Serendipity.
She is young, I am old. We are the odd couple. She speaks Italian I will be doing my best to learn as I go. She is beautiful, I am marked with the signs of weather and years. It will be quite a contrast to travel with her after two weeks with my brother. Andrea is a little nervous but she trusts me.. My children may struggle to "get it" but their father has occasionally trod the path less travelled so it may not cause more than a ripple. It will be a budget trip with hostels as the main accommodation of choice and self catering where possible. My indulgence of the north is about to come to a screaming halt.