Friday, June 19, 2009

A New Beach, Two New Towns and MANY New Churches

Wednesday was basically a stay at home day to let our bodies rest from the potential harmful side effects of another day in the Sicilian sun.

We did want to continue our preparations to start our trek back to Camarillo, so we decided to drive into Catania to gather information for the first transportation issue we will face, how to get to Trapani to catch our Ryan Air flight to Barcelona. Would in be by train or on a recliner bus known in these parts as a Pullman? The bus won out as it would be both cheaper and faster.

After this momentous decision, we decided to head down to the Etoile d'Or for a tavola calda meal at it's finest.

A new book about Sant'Agata's Breasts?

We passed a bookstore on our way to the Etoile d'Or and found this new tome for sale.

Sant'Agata is the martyred patron saint of Catania. Before being executed, the Romans that had it in for her tortured her as any self-respecting heathen would do.

They cut off both of her breasts which led local bakeries to create the sugar high that is the Sant'Agata's Breast dessert you see on this ad for this new book.

I can't wait for this book to come out in English!

Thus inspired by Sant'Agata's sacrifice, we strolled onto Catania's Piazza Duomo and wandered into the Duomo that is named in her honor which we realized we had not entered this year.

The Tomb of Vincenzo Bellini

Bellini (1801-35) was and still is Catania's GREAT composer. His tomb is in the Duomo.

The Duomo's Main Altar

One of the Duomo's Side Altars

Rich wood work behind the Main Altar

Wednesday evening, CUS was the scene of another really good Elephant's Junior practice.

Working with these enthusiastic and competitive spirited youngsters continues to be a joy!

Thursday dawned and it was time to do two things, explore and worship the sun and sea. Apollo and Neptune would be SO proud of us!

Laurie enters the town of Noto

We decided to visit two towns noted for their Baroque architecture as well as explore a new beach that Jason and Christie liked last year.

Our first stop was Noto which has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site as is Ragusa that we will visit later in the day.

Baroque Balconey Supports are ALWAYS a hit for me!

The Baroque style, popular in buildings built in Europe between 1600 and 1750, simply refers to an architectural style that was typified by bold curving forms and elaborate ornamentation.

No one could EVER confuse it with the Gothic school.

A fresco by Costantino Carasi in
Noto's Chiesa San Carlos al Corso

Another EXCELLENT Pulpit

Having a half lion, half eagle act as a support beam is interesting in a Catholic church if you ask me. There would be more interesting symbolism along our church explorations today.

Noto's World War I Memorial

I think that you can find one of these in just about every town in Sicily, not so for the fallen of World War II.

The very different amber chandelier in Noto's Palazzo Ducezio
which is now the Town Hall.

You'll never guess the name of
Noto's main street.

The ceiling in the entryway to
Noto's Chiesa Santa Chiara

We know this saint as Santa Clara in California. Hey, come to think of it isn't that the name of the church in Oxnard where our son Mike and Vanessa will tie the knot in August?

Once a convent for Benedictine nuns, this church was turned over to the Sisters of the Order of Clarisse, a.k.a., the Poor Clares in the 18th Century.

A vision of Hell

Brian FitzGerald are you paying attention to any of this?

The Poor Clares Daily Planner

Same schedule every day, every year

When I saw this, I broke into a cold sweat. . .

Memories of the floggings at St. Phillip the Apostle School by Sister Mary Thomas Sadistic and her minions in Pasadena, California flooded into my consciousness.

The "All Seeing Eye" inside of a triangle?

Why is this sign in so many Catholic churches in Sicily?

The nuns had to be a little on the small side to zip through their church's passageways.

Noto Cross

Atop the Chiesa Santa Chiara with Noto's Cathedral in the background.

A better view of Noto's Cathedral San Nicoló

While the Cathedral dates back to 1776, the large cupola to the right is not so old. The original cupola collapsed in the winter of 1996, the new dome was finished in 2007.

Clean up your wax when your candle is finished, PLEASE!

Another "All Seeing Eye"

This time we found it inside of Noto's Cathedral. While ornate in the true Baroque style on the outside, we found the inside of this Cathedral to be very plain overall.

Why does she get to flip the world off from her spot inside Noto's Cathedral?

This coupled with the "All Seeing Eye" is starting to worry me.

After touring the grandeur of Noto we needed just a little sustenance.


This is the beach that Christie and Jason wanted us to visit, so here we are!

It is located just south of Siracusa, about one hour south of Catania.

The water looked cool and refreshing

I liked their umbrella's pattern

The "Girl from Ipanema" even dropped by for a visit

It was indeed a good beach. Good call Johnsons!

I am REALLY starting to like the inside of cupolas in Sicilian churches. What do you think about these that we saw today?

Noto's Chiesa San Carlos al Corso

A side chapel's mini-duomo at
Noto's Cathedral

Another Noto Cathedral mini-duomo

In case you are wondering, Noto's Cathedral's large, main, re-built cupola is still plain white at this time.

Ragusa's Cathedral San Giovanni Battista

Got a favorite out of these four cupolas?

The Baroque exterior of Ragusa's
Cahedral San Giovanni Battista
built between 1706 and 1760.

After a great day at the Lido Fontane Bianche, we opted to drive inland to check out Ragusa. This ancient city was founded as Hybla Heraia about 2,500 years ago when the native Siculi moved inland to escape from the Greek colonists.

Exploring Ragusa is a two part process as new Ragusa was built on a plateau after the 1693 earthquake while old Ragusa, known as Ibla, lays below in the valley.

Perfect Fashion Sense at Pizzeria Il Grotto

After exploring both new Ragusa and it's Cathedral San Giovanni Battista, we realized that we needed to re-fuel ourselves and noticed many of the local citizenry going in and out of this small pizzeria. We decided to give it a try.

Only three small tables inside as the vast majority of their business is take-out orders. We grabbed a table and sat down to enjoy pizza by the slice and it was good.

The fashion show while we ate was fun as well.

Ibla at twilight as seen from new Ragusa

Ibla's Cathedral San Giorgio

Giorgio? I LOVE THIS TOWN!!!

This Cathedral was built between 1738 and 1775 over the foundations of the old San Nicoló Cathedral that was destroyed by the 1693 earthquake.

Ibla's Gelati DiVinci Enoteca

This two part store store sells only two things, gelato on the left and wine on the right.

"Is this Heaven?"

"No, this is Ibla."

Easy to make the mistake after discovering a store that specializes in the one thing that keep's each of us going, gelato for me and a glass of wine for Laurie.

The evening should have ended with a simple 100 km, about 60 miles, drive home. Garmin made sure it wasn't!

She took us on an insane tour of the dark Sicilian countryside that took us close to two hours.

In one little hillside village we creeped through, I swore I saw Rod Serling smoking a cigarette and sipping on an expresso at a sidewalk café as he spoke into a camera!

About three quarters of the way through Garmin's fun-time at our expense, which included a demand to make a U-turn on a narrow country bridge and a furtive plea that we make a right turn on a non-existent street that was really a cliff. I came to believe that we were ripe for an alien abduction!!!

It was just about then that she finally allowed us to re-join the main highway back to Catania.

I thought I heard her give out a small giggle . . .

We finally arrived at Malibu a little after mid-night quite tired after a full day.


DPLassen said...

Why maps are better than Garmin: Maps don't talk.

George said...

But you can bet that Laurie sure did!