We're in Siracusa which is about two hours south of Taormina, on the southeast tip of Sicily. We're here because Siracusa is very old, a town with enough history for a hundred other towns.
We are staying at Hotel Gargallo, a small place in the middle of the island of Ortigia. Ortigia is where you want to stay when visiting Siracusa.
The streets are narrow, crooked, and disorienting; it's Venice minus the canals.
The architecture is wonderful. One old stone building after another, with beautiful details and crumbly textures that come alive at night.
The pictures are of a beautiful old church a few doors from our hotel, a courtyard nearby, and, best of all, the magnificent Piazza del Duomo, about a block away. I'm pretty jaded when it comes to old churches but I found the interior of this Duomo a favorite. You can see the evidence of its being built and re-built. A beautiful building inside and out.
For dinner we walked off-island—well, we crossed a short bridge—to eat a 18€ prix fixe meal at a small restaurant owned by a butcher named Ciccio and his friend Mauro.
When we arrived at 8pm the restaurant was empty of customers. Eight is early for dinner.
We ordered the meat variety plate because it was recommended by a guidebook.
The waiter brought two hard-boiled eggs and a small bowl of salt. We didn't expect eggs and let them sit.
The waiter came back to our table and indicated that we were to eat the eggs. He did not speak English. We ate the eggs.
Next came a large plate of antipasti, a bowl of beans, and a bowl with a soft cheese. Then bread, wine, and tripe. Then a selection of grilled meats: chicken, steak, sausage, bacon, and horse. Despite the amount—easily twice the food we need and so much meat—we ate everything, well, except the tripe. It was all very good though I can't offer an opinion on the tripe.
By 9 pm there were customers waiting for seats and the now-crowded restaurant had the atmosphere of a Godfather film. And I mean that in a good way. Everyone was well dressed, talking, and they all seemed to know each other. The room was full of Italian voices. We watched as customers came in, greeting with a ciao and doing the double kisses with those already seated. It was a fine dinner and a memorable evening.