Ortigia, Siracusa, Sicily

In the morning Tom goes out for an early walk then brings home croissants from the pasticceria on the corner. We drink coffee and talk about where we want to go today.

Then we lace up our boots and head out for a walk around the island, astonished at the wild surf and deep green-blue sea, storm-tossed and agitated.

In the summer these rocky coves beneath the sea wall are crowded with bathers. It’s hard to imagine today.

It is cold and we walk on, our backs to the rising sun, and keep on walking until we have crossed the causeway and found our way over to the Archaeological Museum, then from there the ancient Greek Theater, and below it the natural cave they call Dionysus’s Ear.

By the time we reach the top rung of the theater the sun is high in the sky, the sky is robin’s egg blue, and we are happy to unzip our winter parkas, pull off our sweaters, and bask in the sun.

Tom sketches, and I sketch too, picking one spot out of the scene to concentrate my attention on. It is an old building, a bit incongruous as it juts up above the stadium seating. I pretend it is the caretaker’s cottage, and imagine what it would have been like to live there a thousand years ago.

Ten minutes. A line drawing in pencil, a few washes of color, some time to let the watercolor dry.

It is almost one and we are hungry.

Like locals do, we enjoy a delicious lunch – thin crusted pizza, a salad of fennel, onion, orange and olives, followed by a leisurely rest back in our apartment. Then it is time to head out into the streets again to take in the sights of the evening.

The setting sun kisses the clouds, turning them cotton candy pink, then blood orange, then the deep red of pomegranate.

This is the island of Demeter and Persephone – the goddesses who gave us winter, who gave us the concept of hibernation and rest rather than continual productivity and harvest.

On this, our last full day in Ortigia, we have at last found our rhythm of sight seeing and resting, activity and repose.

In those precious “down” hours, before heading out and between wanders, we absorb and digest and are restored to ourselves.

Sometimes, it seems, we have to leave home for awhile to get the message.

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