Sunday, March 19

Today we traveled to Noto. Like the other towns we have visited in southeastern Sicily, it was rebuilt after the earthquake and is renowned for its beautiful baroque architecture. We were concerned that because it was a Sunday that everything would be closed, but were pleasantly surprised to find the Sicilians all out and about strolling with their friends and family members down the Vittorio Emanuele. This main boulevard is closed to automobile traffic, making it particularly enjoyable. We couldn't help but notice the small groups of older men gathered along the street conversing quite passionately with hands and voice. There always seem to be more men out and about and we still smile each time we watch them exchange kisses on the cheeks as part of their traditional greetings.

The town has recently been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and therefore many of the buildings are in the process of being restored. However, we still marveled at the beautiful facades and ornate balconies. One of our favorite activities was climbing the bell tower of one of the old churches - a narrow and frightening experience for Steve who hates heights. We were rewarded with terrific views of the city and found ourselves standing literally right next to three large old bells. Of course, Steve couldn't resist giving the largest a small ring just to make sure it was authentic!

Lunch included wonderful antipasta and pasta before we headed back to Ragusa. Paula tried a traditional dish, pasta sarde, which is made with sardines and topped with breadcrumbs. After returning to Ragusa for the afternoon, we stopped to see the large cathedral in the center of the city, the Duomo di San Giovanni Battista. We met a nice couple from Palmero at the cathedral who spoke excellent English. They told us that inexplicably, Sicilaians are required to study 10 years of English in school yet few are willing or able to speak more than a few words.

Tonight's dinner consisted of some more wonderful pizza, preceded by caprese salads at a restaurant right next to our hotel.












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