Posts Tagged ‘ortigia’

Sicily 2017 Slideshow

May 13, 2017

Was it one week or two?

It was one hundred lifetimes lived in a single day.

Warm sun on my skin

Within days, my skin goes brown, my eyes grow bright.

A gentle breeze floats in from the sea.

I am surrounded by beauty

and smiles.

How will I ever go back home?

This ancient land clings to my feet, tugs at my heart.

I am trapped by an invisible seaweed netting.

Cherry tomatoes burst with flavor. The local markets display mounds of dried wild herbs and mountains of colorful fruits and vegetables, which will taste as beautiful as they look.

Every morning and evening, we practice yoga to the sound of birdsong

and to soft lapping of waves.

The fragrance of the zagara flower is intoxicating.

Orange blossoms perfume the wall-less outdoor yoga studio.

Mt. Etna lets out a steady stream of smoke, steam, and dreams.

Mongibello stands tall, shrouded in purple at sunset, pink at sunrise.

What do you call the blue of the Sicilian sky and sea?

Flamingos, not yet fully pink, are feeding at the marsh.

Are there words to describe such insane raw beauty?

At night, I wonder how my parents ever left?  I wonder if I  carry the scars of their pain?

Quarry stones, hewn perfectly, stand witness to ancient history and warm today’s cat.

With the click of my camera, I capture the wild red poppies growing in a field of yellow daisies and I offer the poppies’ perfection to my lost friend Adriana.

We do yoga in the ruins of the tuna fisheries.

I feel the solidity of ancient stone under my feet, the mass suffering of the giants of the sea, and the beauty of the moment.

I watch my friends, long-time friends and new ones, do yoga on this ancient island. I lead them in a yoga sequence and I feel  Madre Terra’s energy coursing through us all.

Mother Earth and the Sicilian Sun nourish our spirits.

I breathe and I am renewed.

Fran’s website:

Turn up your speakers and enjoy the slideshow below (about 8 minutes long):

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Greek Sicily

May 1, 2017

Who has time to write when in Sicily?  So photos will have to do.

And yes, the weather has suddenly turned very warm and perfect.

The Greeks left their mark here!  Sicily was a Greek Colony and has the most beautiful Greek ruins.  We spent yesterday in Siracusa with Eleonora as our guide.  Enjoy a few photos from yesterday.

A roadside shrine to Mother Mary:

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Below: Temple of Apollo.  Perhaps this was one of the most significant temples in ancient Greek times.  The pillars in the photo below are monolithic and it is short of a miracle that they are still standing because most of the area was leveled to the ground during the great earthquake of January 11, 1693. The earthquake was one of the biggest to ever hit Italy.  It destroyed at least 45 cities and killed more than 60,000 people.  Catania was hardest hit and two-thirds of the people of Catania lost their lives.  Many of the towns including Siracuse and Modica had to be completely rebuilt.


The main cathedral in Ortigia is my favorite.  It was a Greek Temple whose ancient pillars are perfectly preserved because they were filled in with walls for a church.  In the photo below, you can see the Greek Temple pillars embedded in the exterior walls.  These columns, thousands of years old,  are even more beautiful from the interior.  From Greek Temple to Mosque to Catholic Church, this cathedral is remarkable.

Perfectly preserved Greek Temple

Sicilian girl sitting on the steps dating back to the the ancient Greek temple-turned Catholic Cathedral

Sicilian girl sitting on the steps dating back to the the ancient Greek temple-turned Catholic Cathedral

Poster promoting a traditional puppet show in Ortigia

Poster promoting a traditional puppet show in Ortigia

Our group!

Our group!

Sicily: Notes to Self

April 23, 2017

Does anyone else wake up at 3am to write a blog in his or her head…and then promptly go back to sleep, later wake up at a decent time and write it down?

Sicily: Notes To Self

  • All of my hard work is worth every second of effort put forth.
  • I must believe in myself ALL OF THE TIME.
  • Some mysteries in my life will never be solved.
  • Yoga has kept me sane. Often, it is the only part of my life that makes sense.
  • The vivid dream I had of my father on my second night in Sicily is more than just a dream.
  • The smell of Sicilian orange blossoms is the most beautiful smell in the world.
  • The Beatles had it right when they said, “Love is the Answer”.
  • I must take some photos of the Sicilian wildflowers in bloom.  The poppies are particularly beautiful.
  • Sicily is a gorgeous sun-kissed, energy-loaded island that merits many more visits during my lifetime.

And some photos with captions taken yesterday and today:

Catania Shop Window

Catania Religious Shop Window

Triton at the Catania Market Fountain

Triton at the Catania Market Fountain

Santa Agata mural in the market in Catania

Santa Agata mural in the market in Catania

 Enormous Pesce Spada (Sword Fish) in the Catania fish market

Enormous Pesce Spada (Sword Fish) in the Catania fish market

Serena enjoys her spaghetti

Spaghetti Girl

Adorable Spaghetti Girl

Adorable Spaghetti Girl (slightly blurred, but I couldn’t resist posting!)

Our wonderful driver, Francesco

Our wonderful driver, Francesco

The Apollo Temple in Ortigia

The Apollo Temple in Ortigia

Sea Nymphs (fountain), Ortigia

Sea Nymphs (fountain), Ortigia


Yoga this evening at the villa

Yoga this evening at the villa

Mt Etna this evening, taken right after shavasana

Mt Etna this evening, taken right after shavasana

Sicily with Love

October 19, 2014

Our guide Graziella recited a poem, written by an anonymous poet in ancient times, which describes the legend of how Sicily came to be.  She recited it first in the Sicilian dialect and then translated it into English.  I cannot find the Sicilian words, but it was the loveliest of poems.  Here it is in English:

One day God was full of joy.  As he was walking with the saints in heaven, he thought of giving a gift to the world.  From his crown he plucked out a diamond.  He blessed the diamond with the seven elements and placed it in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.  The diamond became a beautiful island and the people called her Sicily.

My hope is that the photos below show you some facets of the diamond called Sicily.

If you are at your home computer, turn up the volume to hear Bellini’s Casta Diva from Norma (the smile box slideshow music seldom plays on an iPad or phone).  Bellini was from Catania, located about half an hour from our villa.  The residents of Catania so love Bellini’s music from Norma that they named a pasta dish after her: Pasta alla Norma.  Casta Diva plays twice and, by pure coincidence, the slideshow ends just as Casta Diva comes to an end, the very last note in sync with the very last image!

Food slide show coming your way soon….

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Sicilian Cats

October 6, 2014


You don’t have to love cats to love these cats!  They are adorable and they are all Sicilian cats.  They seem to be everywhere. They especially love to hang out around the ancient Greek temples or in the Greek theaters or Roman amphitheaters.

I haven’t had much time to blog, but had to post these cat photos.

As I sit and write, everyone has gone to bed after a full day starting out with yoga followed by an  outing with our fantastic guide Graziella, who guided us to Siracusa, Ortigia, and Noto.  Another beautiful day in paradise!  I can’t express enough how blessed I feel to have yet another beautiful group of yogis to share this week with.  I really love our group and everyone is ever so enchanted by Sicily, which-of course- makes me so happy!

It is warm out this evening. The sound of the surf is so calming.  Our villa sits on the bay and I can see the lights of Catania, at the foot of Mt. Etna, dancing and sparkling across the Ionian sea.  The night air smells of a mix of jasmine and the sea.  If the feeling of love had a smell, this would be it!

Enjoy these sweet kitties and know that we are all happy here in Sicily!  Am loving every single day here.  Our groups have been fantastic!!

















Spinning Wheels in Sicily

September 26, 2014
Sicilian oranges picked from the tree in the hotel courtyard and pressed to make a fresh sprimata (orange juice) this morning!

Sicilian oranges picked from the tree in the hotel courtyard and pressed to make  fresh juice this morning!

On Wednesday evening, Marilyn and I arrived in Catania so very tired. We traveled from Seattle to Frankfurt to Rome to Catania. Sometimes I wonder how just sitting in a on a plane can create such exhaustion. Is it the stale air on the plane or is it the body’s immune system fighting hard to stay healthy amid other people’s hacking coughs and sneezes that renders one so tired? Or perhaps it’s the endless hours of trying to sleep while sitting upright crammed in a tiny chair? Could exhaustion stem from layovers or jet lag from the 9 hours of time change?

Mary and Karol were on our same flights from Seattle to Frankfurt to Rome. Together in Rome, we waited for our luggage to appear. Almost all of our flight’s passengers had reclaimed their luggage. And still we waited. In top sleep-deprived condition, I found myself feeling dizzy just watching the luggage carousel going round and round. Was the conveyor belt moving or was I moving?   Mary said a prayer to St. Anthony, saint of lost items, so that our baggage would soon show up and, seconds later, our luggage came tumbling out together!

Marilyn and I went from picking up our luggage to picking up our rental car. As the nice fellow at Avis handed Marilyn the car keys, he said nervously in Italian, “Be careful.” I told him not to worry for us because Marilyn grew up driving in New York City!  His face broke into a Sunshine-Smile. “Oh, well then! You’ll do just fine!” Trying to find our Audi rental in the parking lot was like taking part in a treasure hunt, but we eventually found the car, got the GPS going, and off we went. And yes, Marilyn is an ACE driver and I am a good co-pilot, so all went well.

At one point on the highway, we got stuck behind a string of slow drivers. I know! Just trying to imagine one slow driver in Italy requires a vivid imagination. Marilyn changed over to the left lane to pass them up. Next thing I know, there are police lights flashing behind us!

“Marilyn, there’s a police car behind us flashing their lights!”

“That’s not the police. It’s one of those crazy drivers! This is what they do! They get right on your ass and flash their lights at you until you get out of their way.”

“But, Marilyn, these are definitely COPS!”


Next, the police sounded their alarm…you know the siren you hear when you watch Italian cop shows? Yes, that’s the sound.

Oh, you’re RIGHT! They need to get past me. Well, they will just have to wait until I get past this last slow driver so I can get over safely.”

Calm-cool-collected  Marilyn deftly and safely got over to let the police pass. Just as the police car zoomed past us, the cop in the passenger car had rolled down his window so as to give us a full-on view of his road rage! His anger was almost tangible. I have never seen such fast moving expressive hands as I did that night. Our last image of the police car as it whooshed past us was that of the two cops’ hands and arms going spastic, a vivid expression of wild frustration at not getting to pass us sooner!

After we controlled our laughter, Marilyn said, “Well, I’m awake now!”

We made it, without any further excitement, to the historical center of Siracusa, the area called Ortigia where our hotel is. But once in Ortigia, we were hard put to find any parking. After 15 futile minutes of driving around looking for parking, Marilyn idled the car in a piazza while I ran down a corridor, narrower than an alley, and into the Hotel Aretusa to ask about parking. Ettore, manager of the hotel and our guardian angel of the night, asked me to lead him to the car. From there, he got in the passenger seat and guided us round and round until we scored a parking spot. We sincerely deserved to sleep in past breakfast this morning, which is exactly what we did!

Got all we can get done done and tomorrow Week I Yoga Retreat in Sicily begins!  Can’t wait to welcome the group at the Catania Airport!

View of the sea from the villa where the retreat will take place!

View of the sea from the villa where the retreat will take place!

And speaking of breakfast, here we are in the land of sun-kissed food. I leave you with some photos of this morning’s breakfast spread.

Mozzarella, tomatoes with ricotta and pistacchio, pecorino,

Mozzarella, tomatoes with ricotta, and pecorino with pistacchio

morning bruschetta (to be eaten at all times of the day)

morning bruschetta (can be eaten at all times of the day)

Grapes: as tasty as they are beautiful!

Grapes: as tasty as they are beautiful!

crostatta made by Maurizio's mother

crostatta made by hotel owner Maurizio’s mother

Cultural Note: Coffee with milk is a morning drink. Sicilians refuse to serve coffee with milk such as a cappuccino, a caffe latte, or a café au lait in the evening. It is simply, in their minds, a stomach-curdling idea. It offers the same level of disgust as when a foreigner (because no Italian in this entire country would ever do this) asks if he or she may have some grated cheese to sprinkle over their seafood pasta dish. The combination of cheese and fish or an evening cappuccino is enough to upset the stomach of any Sicilian for days on end.

And just a few more photos from today:

Che carino!

Veterinarian’s office

Sicilian puppets (puppi)

Sicilian puppets (puppi)

Sunset as seen from Cathy and Colleen's hotel rooftop, where we met before going out for dinner

Siracusa: sunset in Ortigia as seen from Cathy and Colleen’s hotel rooftop, where we met before going out for dinner.  We had a wonderful evening with Cathy and Colleen!


MOON: an acronym for Move Ortigia Out Of Normality…a great discovery for live music, poetry, vegan and vegetarian fare!  Amazing spot in the ancient heart of Greek Sicily  Cultural Center Extraordinaire!


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