Jun 15, 2019 - Sea Cloud
Just before breakfast, Sea Cloud sailed into Porto Grande, passing by the imposing walls and towers of 16th-century fortress Castello Maniace and coming alongside on the newly constructed pier. We were given options for the morning tours—a photo walk through the colorful fish and fruit market or a guided visit to the former Neopolis of the ancient city to visit the Lautumia, the limestone quarries that date back to 480 BC, the 15,000 seat Greek theater and the 1st-century AD Roman amphitheater.
After a wonderful al fresco lunch aboard, we headed out for an afternoon walking tour of the old town of Ortygia, a small island/peninsula that was once the heart of the ancient city. We began with a short stop at the fountain of Aretusa, and then quickly moved on to the Dominican convent in the Piazza del Duomo to see its magnificent Caravaggio altarpiece.
While there are many impressive 17th-century Baroque buildings surrounding the piazza, the focal point is certainly the Duomo itself. The whole history of Sicily can be wrapped up in this single structure. Originally a Greek temple of the 5th century, it has Byzantine, Norman, Catalan, and Spanish elements. In the evening, some guests dined ashore, others took in a performance in the Greek theater, and still others went on an evening photo walk with Massimo Bassano, our Italian photo instructor.
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