Well, it’s been another few weeks in Sicily and thankfully we haven’t melted yet! We have come close, but a few rainy days gave us some much needed reprieve from the heat.
Today, we explore two small cities close to where we are staying. The first is called Noto Antica and is actually the original city of Noto.
This community was founded in.. get this… 5BC! Can you wrap your head around that? Unfortunately, the famous earthquake of 1693 leveled the city and it was rebuilt a few miles away in what is now known as Noto.
All that’s left of Noto Antica is ruins of old city walls and churches, but it’s a cool place to explore. We brought Lou-Dawg and went to walk around the area. They have lots of cave homes that were dug into rock in the side of the cliff.. they are still there even through you can’t really climb to them. Brad is convinced we should buy land with an old cave dwelling on it and make it into an outdoor grill area! Oh the goals of that man 😉
The larger city in this area is called Siracusa. It encompasses a large expanse, but the part we are featuring today is called the Archaeological Park of Neapolis. When you buy a ticket to this park, you are allowed in to see some amazing old amphitheaters, caves, and relics.
The Romans conquered Sicily in 212 BC (ahhh!) and ruled it until about 440 AD. In the archeological park, we were able to see a Roman Amphitheater used for gladiator fights. The existing structure is only the bottom section of a four section colosseum that went up and up and up. The earthquake and years of wear crumbled the top three sections but this bottom section survived.
You can see the pit in the middle where machinery was kept, entrance tunnels for animals around the ring, and sometimes the center was even filled with water for aquatic games!
There is also a Greek theatre nearby formed in the 5th century BC. The Greeks were different from the Romans in the fact that they were not fighters, but were poets and philosophers. Therefore, they didn’t use their amphitheater for any sort of fights, but rather had a stage at one end for shows and plays. They actually still use this theatre AND the stage area to perform Greek plays many times throughout the year. How cool is that!?
Like the Roman theatre, this Greek one would have been much taller and larger in it’s day, but the layers that have remained are the ones that were actually carved down into the bedrock.
The upper section (shown far left in the photo below) was used for storage when run by the Greeks, and used as tombs when run by the Romans.
Last but not least, below, we have the “Ear of Dionysius.” This cave was carved out of the limestone and is aptly named based on its resemblance to the human ear. (More like an elf ear if you ask me.) This cave was first used in an aquaduct system and later turned into a prison. The way the acoustics echo meant the guards could stand outside of the cave but easily hear what the prisoners were whispering as they planned their escapes.
That’s all for now. Ciao!