After mucking around in Ortigia for two days, we finally got us a sim card and a rental car. We were all set for a road trip. Since we needed to get use to drive on the right side of the road, we decided to go to some places not too far away. First stop was the Archaeological Park of the Neapolis.
Both Syracuse Greek Theatre and Roman amphitheatre are part of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Syracuse Greek Theatre was built in the 5th century BC. It is one of the largest in the world with nearly 140m diameter. All the seats were cut out from rocks. The theatre overlooks Syracuse, so the view is spectacular.
Roman amphitheatre is a small disappointment for me. I guess it just looked very abandoned. The amphitheatre was primarily used for Gladiator contests and fights. However, seeing both sites in the same park was a bonus. We got to see how different the theatres were built for different purpose.
Another interesting place in the park is a ear shaped huge cave called “Ear of Dionysius”. Some says it’s actually a natural formed cave. The ruler of ancient Syracuse, Dionysius, used it for prisoners. The cave has exceptional acoustics that amplify the sounds. When the prisoners talked about their secrets, the emperor could hear it all.
Next stop was Noto. I love this place so much. The original Noto was a very old town with long history. The history can be traced back to 263BC. It was a Roman city. Then, it was conquered by Arabs later on. At some stage, it was Christians city again and became a Norman city.
Unfortunately, everything was destroyed in 1693 by Sicilian earthquake. The Noto we visited was rebuilt in 18th century, “a masterpiece of Sicilian Baroque”. Such a beautiful city! No wonder it was listed as a UNESCO’s World Heritage sites in 2002. The blue sky, the lime stone baroque architecture, beautiful churches and the narrow streets…So pleasing to the eye.
There are a lot of churches and Cathedrals in Noto. I would like to recommend the Church of Santa Chiara. It was built by Rosario Gagliardi in 1758. The best thing is you can go on the rooftop to enjoy the fabulous views.
To be continued…