Saturday, March 17, 2012

Archimedes lived here

Any floating object replaces it's own weight of fluid. Who's treatise is this? Correct, Archimedes of Syracuse. Archimedes is the favourite son of Siracusa and greatest mathematician of antiquity, who was killed in the Roman siege of Siracusa despite orders to the contrary. This is your Siracusa history lesson of the day.

This morning we visited the market and what a market it is. The fresh fruit and vegetables were piled up high on the stalls: oranges, lemons, strawberries, the largest fennel imaginable, tomatoes, zucchini, apples and lovely purple eggplants. This is market gardening country and it was all on display today. The fresh fish, the sea bream, sea bass, little fishes, cuttlefish, octopus, swordfish, tuna, squid looked like they had just come out of the water. Since we want to make pasta with sea urchins, we stopped and watched a man cut the spiny urchins with a special tool and then scoop the insides out ready for sale. Fascinating. It was a real treat walking through this market.

We wandered about the town, which was incredibly busy and finally stopped at a restaurant outside, overlooking the sea. Soon after we arrived a group of twenty-two Italians arrived for lunch and what a lunch it was. They started with plates of mussels, followed by caponata, then some small scampi, then frittata with seafood, then a plate of fried calamari, octopus, small fishes, and grilled shrimp. Then out came a giant orata or sea bream, which the waiter duly presented to the older gentleman, who was obviously the head of this group. We watched the waiter debone the fish and dish up the twenty-two plates with just a little to spare. We heard the man in charge say he didn't like or want pasta at this kind of meal. I'm not sure what came next as our lunch was long over. It was an odd group, not a family, with several people of the same age. The woman were very dressed up, no jeans as would be usual. Everyone was wearing lovely shoes. The men had on almost desert boots in brown or blue and the ladies four inch heels. We wondered if they all came from a shoe shop. I'm sure they didn't and what they did or why they were there will have to remain a mystery but it was very entertaining watching them.

Tonight we went back to the Temple of Apollo to see the play, Six Characters in Search of an Author, by Pirandello, an Italian playwright and Nobel prize winning author, who grew up in Sicily. Once again we were in the throngs above the actual theatre and it was difficult to follow the play but what we saw we enjoyed. Then we joined the town's people for passegiata on the main street. Tonight everyone was out walking.

Tomorrow we are looking forward to visiting Mount Etna, which we have seen looming in the distance for the last few days.

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