Monday, June 4, 2012

Sicily: Piazza Armerina, Modica, & Ragusa

Since we had some time on our hands in Sicily, we decided to drive to a few cities suggested by friends. First up was Piazza Armerina. This city is famous mainly for its Roman mosaics in the Villa Romana del Casale. This Roman villa was built in the first part of the 4th century and contains the richest, most complex collections of Roman mosaics in the world. The villa appeared to have several purposes, containing residential rooms, rooms for business, a basilica, a gym, and bathhouses, along with many rooms where the purpose is unknown.
The bathhouses

We were amazed at how intact these mosaics are, with many of them barely being disrupted from years of history. From afar they look like huge frescoes, or even gigantic rugs, but up close you can see every single small tile meticulously put into place in what I'm sure would have been a long and painstaking process. These images depict everyday life as well as stories, legends, and mythology.

Unfortunately, they had closed off quite a bit of the area for renovations so we were unable to see one of the most famous mosaics, also known as the "bikini girls", which shows girls in bikinis playing sports, weightlifting, and horsing around. Jon was disappointed.

We didn't go into the actual town, but we took some pictures of the Baroque Cathedral and the rest of the city.

A couple of days later we went to the towns of Modica and Ragusa. Both of these are very old cities (1,000 - 2,000 BC when they were founded). Modica has ancient medieval buildings climbing up either side of a deep gorge and is divided into Modica Alta (High Modica) and Modica Basso (Low Modica). Modica is known for their chocolate, which can be flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, mint, coffee, peppers, and orange. We stepped into a chocolate shop to sample some sweet crunchiness. Aside from having lunch at a panini shop (they actually have a sister shop in NY) we wandered the streets and absorbed the atmosphere of this city... which quickly shut down at 1pm.

When we arrived in Ragusa everything was closed since it was 2pm on a Sunday (when will we learn?) We drove through and around the city, which is split into Ragusa Ilba and Ragusa Superiore and enjoyed the architecture. The churches and palazzi seemed to line every route with the Duomo being the centerpiece of Ragusa Superiore. We were disappointed that we couldn't enjoy more of this city, but we're happy that we had the opportunity to see it!

Duomo di San Giovanni Battista

We're fortunate that we were able to come back to Sicily and visit these old cities. Each one is unique in their own way while still being able to preserve their old charm.

Questa e' la prima volta che scrivo sul blog senza l'aiuto del mio maestro. Quindi questo sara' non lungo. I mosaici a Piazza Armerina erano molte interesante! Erano belli e molto vecchi. Tutto di citta' che abbiamo visto erano vecchi con molti edifici. Abbiamo mangiato il pranzo nel Piazza Armerina e Modica. Il cibo era molto buono! Le melanzane e una specialita' in Sicilia e abbiamo mangiato tante melanzane. Qualche volte abbiamo ordinato pasta alla norma e pizza Siciliana. E naturalmente, abbiamo bevuto vino. Giusy, se leggi questo, ho scritto va bene? :)


  1. Whoa! Those mosaics blow Pompeii out of the water!! Awesome!

  2. Fascinating and amazing cities! The mosaics are absolutely beautiful and each one definitely tells a story! It kind of reminds me of when I took my art history classes and I learned about the cave drawings and paintings. This was a way for the people to communicate with each other and tell a story. Very interesting! And when you talked about the chocolate my mouth was watering! Yummy! And the other thing that fascinated me were the bathhouses. It's hard to believe that people lived like that. Definitely a different way of life!!

  3. I forgot how beautiful everything is in Italy, those ruins are amazing! What a cool little trip!