Thursday, March 5, 2009

Practice, Meat and Siracusa

Wednesday was an overcast day with threats of showers in Catania forcing me indoors in the morning thus missing out on my daily 10 kilometer walk.

A Tribute to Joe Mollica

Our friend Joe visited Catania only last July and already he has the street next to the Baia Verde Grand Hotel named after him.  Talk about making an impression!

Church Door

In the afternoon, the weather, though still chilly, was a little clearer so we ventured down to the fisherman's seaport to try to go to the Museo del Mare dedicated to the history Catania's fishing industry.  Paul's father was a fisherman by trade in California so he is constantly on the lookout for all things which might relate to fishing fleets.  Of course the Museo was closed for the day.

Across from the Museo was this church dedicated to Santa Maria della Sacro SOstare with it's interesting doors.

Wednesday Night Practice

Our Wednesday night practices are held at the Elephants' Super Secret Training Facility code named "4th of November".   To avoid having other IFL teams illegally scout us by satellite, we have cleverly disguised it as a softball field.  We have now practiced there four times and without Garmin, I would never find it!

A pitcher friendly park, the bazooka they use at sporting events in the U.S. to launch a bundled T-Shirts into the frenzied crowd couldn't get one out of here much less someone hitting a softball for a home run.

The right field line seen here is 210 feet from home plate and the right field Power Alley measures out at 225 feet.  The top of the fence is probably 35 feet high to boot!


Unkind to right handed batters, "4th of November" has set the left field line at 300 feet, the left field Power Alley at a cavernous 390 feet while straight away center field is "only" 261 feet.

Line coaches Denver Wade and Paul Petrich Jr. strolling across the infield before practice started and the players were in the locker room changing.

When practice started it started to drizzle and never stopped.  We had a good practice with the emphasis on individual techniques and group work.

One other special note on this field, the man in charge of the lights has yet to be on time to turn them off, normally the only standard of Italian punctuality I have found at the now five different practice facilities we have used for night practices the last two seasons.  Tonight his tardiness gave us an extra 20 minutes of practice!!!


After practice we drove over to the 13th Century Castello Ursino to eat a late dinner at the nearby "Trattoria Castello Antico"  There specialty is grilled meat.

Denver was all over it with a variety that would eventually include 4 cipollatas, 1 large sausage, 1/2 of a veal involtini that he shared with me and 2 horse meatballs.  A feast fit for medieval King Frederick II for whom the Castello Ursino was built.

Just as we got into our car after dinner, the heavens opened up and we were hit by a deluge of biblical proportions.  The accompanying lightening storm was VERY cool though.

A SOstare hard at work writing out a parking ticket.

Friday's first stop was to the Post Office, where I took this picture of one of Catania's most noble public servants hard at work, near the Elephant's International Headquarters for Paul to pick up, finally, his last package of gear that he sent to Davide before he left California over a month ago.

The first two packages Paul sent arrived in a timely fashion but this third and final package has been stuck in customs in the north of Italy for at least two weeks now.  The first two were delivered to the office as specified but Davide received a notice basically saying that they were not able to deliver this last one and for Paul to pick it up at the Post Office.

After taking the appropriate number, Paul had to wait over an hour only to find out that he would have to return on Tuesday with proper authorization from Davide to whom the package is addressed to pick it up.

I mistakenly thought that "Take A Number" solved everything in the Italian Postal System...

A Statue of a Random Saint on Siracusa's Cathedral of Santa Lucia

After the Post Office ate up a lot of our morning, we took the one hour drive to Siracusa to check out their sights.

The Piazza del Duomo on the island of Ortygia

That is the Cathedral of Santa Lucia on the right.

Ortygia is small island is now linked to the mainland by the short Umbertino bridge.  It originally was a stronghold until the 19th Century and it separates the city's two harbors which are now connected by the dock canal.

"I wonder how long these cobble stones have been here?"

Siracusa, founded by the Greeks, has been of great economic and cultural importance for over 27 centuries!
"DAMN IT!!!"

For the first time in my budding amateur photographic career, I foolishly let my battery run out of juice!  The next few pictures were taken using Paul's camera.  If Paul took a picture being published it will be noted by (ppj), if not I took it using his camera.

The Six P's:
"Proper Preparation Prevents
Piss Poor Performnce!"

Why didn't I heed my own advice to others???

Ortygia's Colorful East Side (ppj)

Another GREAT Lunch

Once again Paul's "Lonely Planet Italy" guidebook came through with a good option for our mid-day meal this time on Siracusa's Ortygia Island, the "Trattoria la Tavernetta di Pippo".

The only problem we had was finding it as for the second time in our adventures, his guidebook had the location number of this eating emporium listed twice on the map on two opposite ends of our fortunately small, quaint island.  We burned some unneeded calories in our initially avbortive search so it all worked out.

Siracusa's San Giovanni Evangelista Church

Underneath this ancient church is a huge system of catacombs dating back to 360 B.C.  In Roman times it was used to bury the followers of the then new Christian religion.  They have unearthed about 10,000 tombs of various sizes, some with still very visible frescoes or mosaics.

The Skull and Cross Bones signifying what lies beneath.

If only these "Old Worn Faces" could talk.

With Gina Our Catacomb Tour Guide (ppj) 

No pictures are allowed underground and we once again honored the dead by obeying the rules.  This is the best catacomb tour I have been on to date.  The one I took in Rome in the summer of 2006 was probably deeper underground with it's multiple levels but this one was more massive and much more wide open, a big plus for those of us who are oversized.

Climbing up the charts fast!  PADRE PIO! (ppj)

Across the street from the Museo Archeologico Regionale (closed of course for repairs until April) is the Santuario Madonna delle Lacrime.  Consecrated in 1996 this is a HUGE state of the art Roman Catholic house of worship.

Padre Pio easily has the most lit candles of any of the 15 or so niches inside the church.

The outside of the Santuario Madonna delle Lacrime is shaped like a tear (ppj).

That is because Lacrime means tear and legend has it that a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary somewhere nearby would actually have tears miraculously streaming down her cheeks.

One of my Favorite TV shows from the early 1970's

Who would have ever guessed it back then???

For my Sicilian friends, click on the link below to get a feel for what the show was about.


DPLassen said...

I'm thinking the lights guy is late because he's needing those extra 20 minutes to find a place to park, thanks to your campaign to eliminate parking violations.

George said...

Hey, GREAT point!!!

Unknown said...

Nice one George! Thanks for the shout. tell all the floks that remember me hello, wish I could come back,

vivi Mollica!