Monday, November 30, 2009

Week 4

During September I was able to settle into a pattern of life in Catania. Every week promised a class schedule similar to that of college at home, a fun filled Friday field trip and some sort of adventure on the weekend. October completely veered from that pattern. First there was our weekend trip to Agrigento and Selinunte, then our week trip to Tunisia and western Sicily and lastly our five day fall break. For our free time I went to Malta with Hilah and Hannah and other people traveled all across Europe to Florence, Croatia, Copenhagen, London, Dublin and Paris. Everyone had a great time. I am pretty sure I spent a large portion of my travels saying “Malta is awesome.” The sentiment remains. In addition to all of these travels October brought midterms. To say the least, October was busy.

Now we have resettled into our pre-October patterns. The past two weekends have been relaxing. The first weekend back from break we went to Syracuse. In Syracuse we visited the Museo Archeologico Regionale di Paolo Orsi. Though it was our third visit I went into two areas of the museum where I hadn’t made it the past two times. After the museum we went to the Archeological Park and saw the Greek theater, amphitheater, quarry and the giant altar of Hieron. Then we went to the fortifications at Euryalus. The fort was built on the plateau encircling Syracuse that would have been the easiest access point for enemies. One of the ditches still remains in addition to some tunnels and part of the keep. We got to climb up walls and wander around the tunnels. The architecture of the fortification was complex and it was interesting to explore the tunnels and find trap doors overhead. Also, there were terrific views of Syracuse, Ortygia and the oil refineries around Megara Hyblaea from on top of the walls. It was a pretty relaxed day and it was nice to be done by around 4pm. Saturday and Sunday were free of plans and we all took the time to relax and cook a homemade meal in our dormitory for an early Sunday dinner.

Amphitheater, Syracuse

Looking down on tunnel system at Euryalus Castle.

This past weekend we went to Morgantina and Enna for our Mediterranean Cultures trip and then on Saturday we went to Acicastello for a delicious lunch. At Morgantina we discussed some domestic architecture and then the structuring of a Greek agora (central area of a town). There were a few well preserved mosaics, but they didn’t begin to compare with those at Bulla Regia or at the Bardo Museum. The one mosaic with a figure, it depicted Ganymede, was in an enclosed building and could only barely be viewed through the glass. An extra highlight for our time at Morgantina was the discovery of a liter of five 15 day old puppies. After visiting Morgantina we went to a small museum for around an hour and then headed off to Enna. Enna was the site of the largest sanctuary to Demeter and Persephone in the Greek Mediterranean. Though nothing remains of the sanctuary, the outcropping of rock provides amazing views of the area. Enna is located in the heart of Sicily so this sanctuary would have looked over the agricultural core of the region. We enjoyed about thirty minutes of picture taking and the first really chilly fall winds of the semester.

Agora at Morgantina with theater in background.

View from Enna.

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