A touring/eating day today. Starting with the cornenetto crema and the pistachio hot chicolatte
in Ortigia; on to the ‘small’ towns of Noto (Gelati), Modica (Chocolate) and Ragusa (Panini) and then back to Ortigia (Spaghetti Marinara). The lonely planet suggests the chocolate factory in Modica. We do eventually find it in a small side street. Not so much a factory, but an oversized kitchen. Its very traditional and reminds us of the Paragon café in Katoomba. The Chocolatiers are quick to point out to me that milk and white chocolate are not ‘real’ chocolate. Its all dark chocolate here….so Julie is in her element. We buy up big.
We spend an inordinate amount of time finding some of the centres of the towns. (Don’t trust the GPS to know where the centre is!). These are not little villages as first thought. The GPS invariably has us driving up one-way streets. When we ignore these instructions it punishes us my sending us down footpaths with cars parked on them (well perhaps they were roads but I’d hate to have a car larger than our Peugeot 208. I keep thinking of Marcia and Kevin and their motor home. Kev would have to get Marcia to walk in front ringing a bell!).
Other than food the thing to do is to view the churches and palaces. This area is Italian church Baroque glitz at its best with Duomo one-upness the go. A lot of the rebuilding happened after the 1693 earthquake. Its good to see heritage listing support for many of these grand buildings.
Battle of the Duomos - Noto, Ragusa, Modica...
We see in Noto, what our American Airbnb host says about Sicilian men. There are large clusters of Sicilian men just ‘hanging around’ the city squares just passing the time, while no doubt ‘Mama’ is home doing the cooking, cleaning, looking after the kids or perhaps even going to church (though most of the churches we viewed were not in active use). I think I could fit into this Sicilian culture quite well! Julie was less than impressed though. We also see the people chasing a ‘bag snatcher’ down the street, reminding us that despite what our host says about crime here, there is a reason why our apartment has bars on all the windows and doors.
Side-bar – Reflection on Churches
Churches are central to virtually all European communities. But when have you seen a new church in Europe? To be fair we did see one in Syracuse, which was modern and eye-catching (a huge cone).
|Rare new church - Syracuse|
So are these churches destined to be simply tourist attractions? I cannot start to count how many I have viewed over the years, to the extent that I have trouble distinguishing one from the other. They are all impressive and deserve their popularity as viewing attractions. But what about their original intended use? I don’t know many people who are regular churchgoers these days, much different to when I was younger and of course earlier generations. With the loss of congregations how will the churches fund the no doubt huge maintenance costs?
In Australia I have seen some new churches being established in conventional buildings, no glitz, no visual monuments. In fact a church has been established in a squash centre I used to play at. Is this the future for the church? Sad, but perhaps a reality now.