Ortigia, we are told, was almost deserted in the end of the 1980s into the 90s, at one time population around 12,000, but in that period reduced to 1-2000 and a dangerous place for being so deserted. The population moved off the island into other areas of Siracusa and beyond in search of work. The island is now well on its way to recovery with investment from abroad, Rome and north Italy. The relatively empty look of the streets contributed to also by the fact that this is late winter, well away from the tourist season. We had to travel at this time for practical reasons and with a preference for cool weather. So we experience these weeks at 17 to 20 degrees celsius in Sicily, to arrive in Rome in the best of times, March.
Anyway, here below is the movie we made yesterday... click on the little four arrow thing in the bottom right to see it full screen. Let me add these points to the commentary.
- When the camera looks down at the papyrus you are looking into a spring which was there when the Greeks arrived in 800BC, and at the plant that was there in the spring when they arrived... hence the question, who brought the papyrus, which one might expect to see in Egypt. That is also the level of the ground at the time of the Greek arrival.
- There is no getting away from the depth of history. While most of the great buildings are just 300-500 years old, the harbour we look out on in the movie was the scene of the second battle of Siracusa in August 413BC, when the Athenian fleet was trapped in the harbour by the Siracusa fleet, a battle between 160 triremes. An act of subterfuge enabled the Romans to get inside the walls in 212BC and contrary to the directions of the Roman commander Marcellus, five times Consul of the Roman Republic, a Roman soldier killed the head of defence science in Siracusa, Archimedes. Montgomery's Eighth Army took Siracusa on the first day of the invasion of Sicily by allied forces in July 1943.
Now to watch...