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Postcard from Syracusa, Sicily

Fountain of Diana

The Diana Fountain in the old town section of Syracusa

It almost seems that this afternoon, as we sat in the town square in the old part of Syracusa, that it was the first time we have had a chance to draw breath for the last three weeks.

And it was lovely. The piazza's centre-piece is the Fountain of Diana. Her marble statue stands high up on a sculptured rock in the middle of the fountain surrounded by some hunting dogs and her underlings who are riding prancing horses and great fish with gaping mouths.

Facing into the piazza is the Banco di Sicilia, and a number of other grand buildings, some of which have decaying facias that could do with another coat of render, or perhaps a slick of paint. But it is all part of the charm of Sicily. And the decay seems to focus your conscious vision onto the flair of the marble figures of the Fountain of Diana that have stood there for centuries.

The sound of the fountain tinkles over the flutter of dove wings, the raised voices of the old men sitting at the adjacent table, the ever present scooter noise and the through traffic as it skirts around the fountain, over the cobble-stoned pavement and moves off down the narrow streets to another part of the old town.

We sit at our table with a café latte for Jen and a café American (a long black) for me. The scooters and cars move past but the people at the tables don't change. It seems like it is almost an occupation - sitting at an outside table watching the world go by (and perhaps being seen by it as it passes). The bars here sell coffee, soft drink, beer and wine, gelati, and a variety of nibbles such as sweet pastries and pizza slices. We will pay 7000 lire (about $USD3.50) for our two coffees, and that's about standard, but there is no pressure to move on, and you can linger over your drinks for as long as you like.

The occasional car stops, rolling into the kerb (or somewhere near it) without much effort to make sure that there is enough room for others to pass by. The driver gets out and is greeted by his friends, there is some friendly banter, and he is off again, reversing out into the traffic flow without much care; but it all seems to work.

There is an un-regimented, haphazard way about life here. And to relax you need to go with the flow and not be upset by the seemingly disorder and chaos.

Photos of Syracusa

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