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Infiorata di Noto street-painting with flowers and the ruins of Siracusa

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When it comes to art, no one beats the Italians. Well, thats my unsubstantiated opinionand Im jolly proud of it. (Grins) I have always thought flower festivals were like exhibition of flowers from around the world or a parade of flower-covered floats. But Infiorata di Noto updated my outdated ignorance. Its a fusion of street painting and flower parade. Now, how can that be?

Noto

On May 13, 2011, Friday night, we, a group of 5 adults and 2 bambini, arrived here at Via Nicolaci, Noto to find hundreds of busy artists meticulously decorating the street. Divided into groups, each of them have got a painting to follow. They are real paintings that are going to be duplicated and magnified and boy! how exactly they could replicate them using mainly flower petals as hues. They also use some beans for black hues, for instance. As far as I could remember, they only used plant and soil materials for these paintings. No artificial colors were used whatsoever. I could imagine how many tons of flowers are used for this event.

Since they were still preparing, we decided to retire to our eco-friendly hotel. My husband and I had been travelling all day and night from London Stansted to Palermo to Noto, not to mention from our house to the airport. I was dead tired, but before we called it a night we stopped by a tavola calda to buy some arancini, our favorite street food whenever we go to Sicily.

Early the next day, we headed out to Siracusa. Being one of the earliest civilizations, it boasts a plethora of exciting ancient historiesmy kind of thing.  Our first point of stop was the newly discovered Roman Villa of Tellaro, an archaeological site with stunning mosaic flooring. But alas were not allowed to take photos.

ruins

I wasnt sure if our tour guide, my brother-in-law, well actually, he was our driver, knew the place very well but everytime he saw a sign of a archaeological site, like this one above. Sicily seems to abound with ruins which make it so interesting. Like most ruins, this ones out of the way and it seemed abandonednot just once. But theres a wishing well covered with iron grills to protect the coins inside. Surprisingly, they kept the coins among the ruins.

rocks and cave

Finally, we got to Siracusa and I couldnt wait to get to see more ruins, the Greek Amphitheathre.  But our driver knew better than to take us right away there. Instead he took us to Orecchio di Dionisio, a cave resembling an ear. Its only a few meters long but the cave opening is colossal. I stood like an ant. While we were inside, someone showcased her operatic voice and the acoustic was unbelievably loud with excellent quality. Opera houses would be embarrassed in comparison to its natural acoustic system. (IMAO) Adjacent to Dionysiuss ear is another cave that is off-limit to visitors. But for the life of me, I cant tell you why.

Greek Amphitheatre

Finally, the Greek amphitheatre! But how disappointing! They are constructing a temporary seating cover. In July that year, Andrea Bocelli was going to hold a beneficiary concert here. But next to this site is another but smaller amphitheater. I just wished we had a local tour guide telling us how old they were and the stories behind them.

rock off Sicilian coast

By afternoon our group hired a boat see the coast of Siracusa.  It was a hot May day and the cool sea breeze was a much needed respite.  Before heading back to Noto to see the Infiorata, we had a little stroll at the fair.

It was getting late so we went back to Noto to see the infiorata. The main street was packed with tourists and revelers alike. When we got to Via Nicolaci the road was already cordoned and inside was the most amazing street painting I have ever seen. But to my dismay, all my phone cameras have already got flat batteries. By the way, all these photos were taken by my LG Renoir. Luckily, there was a man on the sidewalk selling photos of the infiorata and even if it was a bit rip off I insisted on buying one and thats what you see at the top on the left.

Altogether, it was a very fun-filled tour of Noto and Siracusa. One I will always cherish.

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