Monday, March 26, 2007

The Boys in Syracuse

Greek Theatre in the Archaeological Park

The Ear of Dionysius; ear clogged with malamute

Walked around Ortygia (the island which is Syracuse's historic heart) with the benefit of more sunshine, then across the bridge to the mainland and up past central Siracusa to the Neapolis / Archaeological Park where we checked out the Greek Theatre (one of the largest they built) and the Ear of Dionysius.

The latter is an artificial limestone cave in a quarry, with incredible acoustics. Named by the painter Caravaggio after the local despot Dionysius, who allegedly eavesdropped on prisoners incarcerated here. On a warm day it's also a good spot for a malamute to curl up and have a kip.

The final stop was to be the Archaeological Museum at Villa Landolina mid-town, but frustratingly it was closed by 1pm and would not be open on Monday, our last day. This museum is rated as the best in Sicily, but is overshadowed by the monstrous building next to it: the Sanctuary of the Weeping Madonna, which bears a curious resemblance to the garbage bins in the Neapolis.

After a household relic supposedly started shedding tears in 1953, the Catholic Church and Sicilian government quickly coughed up funds to build this 75m edifice to house it (despite the desperate poverty around the island). It's the tallest building in this 2800 yr old city, birthplace of Archimedes, the latest in a long line of temples to the feminine divine.

Made an attempt to do some email and blog catchup at an internet/phone centre. Of the 4 in Ortygia, 2 were closed for Sunday, 1 was "not working sorry" and the other had 1 of its 3 terminals tied up by a technician installing new software but with insufficient English to understand the on-screen instructions. After an hour of waiting, I got on and found the machine so riddled with viruses, spyware and trojans that I didn't want to type in a password in case it was logged and sent on by key-tapping spyware. I downloaded some anti-virus and anti-spyware software in the background to clean it up but they wouldn't install on Italian Windows, and the copy on the machine was illegal so no patches or other updates would apply. Sadly this is a common state of affairs in nearly every country I've visited. If you are worried about password or identity theft, then don't login to anything on systems like these or enter any banking or credit card information: the internet cafe owners may not be looking out for your best interests - or their own for that matter.

I think my email address was siphoned off the computer there as I have just started getting Italian spam.

1 comment:

  1. We have a Syracuse here in Nebraska too. But I doubt it's as exciting or pretty as YOUR Syracuse!