It was a mainstream travel guide that made me wonder whether Sicily was the best choice for Summer holidays. Sicily apparently is one of the major bastions of homophobia in Europe and the guide advised that “If you're gay and still want to go your best bet is the more sophisticated resort of Taormina.”
Well, I was never one to be that bothered about a brick or two hurled in my direction. And it wasn't as if I was seeking to capture the "lustral" pleasures suggested by the German photographer Wilhelm von Gloeden's photographs of tanned youthful Sicilian males taken in the early part of the 20th. Century.
For me the city of Syracuse beckoned with its ancient buildings
This is not just a beautiful Baroque cathedral
but a Baroque cathedral with a 2,500 year old Greek temple inside it
There are 13th century fortifications
And an ancient theatre which still hosts a festival of Greek plays in the early Summer
It was Caravaggio who named this part of the ancient quarry the “Ear of Dionysius”. He also left behind a painting of the patron saint of Syracuse – Santa Lucia – before leaving for mainland Italy and an early death.
But, in truth, the people of Syracuse are the friendliest people you could hope to meet and there was no sign of the intolerance suggested by the guidebook. Although these Sicilians are far removed from the images of Wilhelm,
they do sell the most amazing sea food
and seafood abounds all over the city!
There's a “beach” too for cooling off in the afternoon
So. not a lot of rippling muscle to be seen, but definitely a beautiful part of Europe that's a “must see” for anyone interested in art, history and good food.