November 11, 2011 Touring Ragusa – Second attempt

Many thanks to John for writing today’s blog.

The plan for today is to go to Malta and return. Regrettably, the weather forecast is just marginal enough that we decide we don’t want to be on a fast ferry that might have to slow down to fight rain and wind. There is still a lot to see in Ragusa since almost everything was either closed or washed out yesterday.

Our first goal is the Cathedral of St. George. We take this opportunity to photograph Clark and Lewis struggling up the many steps leading to the entrance. They do not take kindly to the mechanics of pilgrimage. We just hope that any video surveillance cameras do not pick up our activities.

Clark and Lewis struggle up the cathedral stairs

The Cathedral aka Duomo is quite impressive, though a bit hard to decipher, there being no brochures. The most notable works of art are a painting of a very young St. Nicholas (Mary can tell this because one of the angels appears to be juggling three gold balls, a painting of the Holy Family resting on the flight to Egypt, a carving of St. George astride his horse that resembles nothing so much as a carousel ride, and a giant organ (Organum Maximum) with over 1800 pipe. All built, of course, in the Baroque style following the earthquake of 1693.

St. Nicholas with angel holding golden balls

St. George astride his horse

Organum maximum

As we exit the Duomo, we are treated to what must be the happiest sounding and most up-tempo carillon in the world. We come back down to earth when we find that the diocesan museum is once again closed. Grumble.

Next we head back down the main piazza towards the Public Garden. It’s at one end of Ragusa Ibla, and overlooks the surrounding valleys. It’s really quite pretty. We let Clark and Lewis play on the playground equipment to make up for the ordeal of the stairs. We note that a grounds crew is actually doing preventative maintenance on the many palm trees in the garden. We are impressed.

Wheeeee!

A swinging pair

Just outside the garden is the Portale San Georgio, which is all that remains of a 1450-era church that pretty much bit the dust in 1693. Most of the stones were used to construct the new Duomo, but the doorway and tympanum remain. Although highly weathered, some of the carving still shines.

Portale San Giorgio

We stop by a local forno a legno (wood oven bakery) and pick up some stuff for lunch. We are not going to make the same two-giant-meal mistake as yesterday.

In the evening, we head back to La Piazzetta, where the owner greets us again warmly. We order the delicious antipasto tipico again, and again consume it before we remember to take a photo. We also share a pizza Ragusano (essentially a sausage pizza). It’s good, but not as good as the mushroom pizza we had in Siracusa.(and neither was as sublime as the one we had a Zi Caterina in Pompei in 2009).

Needed a hotter oven or a longer cooking time but still pretty good

Nonetheless, a great way to end our stay here in Ragusa.

Tomorrow, on to the temples at Agrigento, to spaghetti vongole in San Leone and finally to La Forestiera at the Planeta Wine Estate in Menfi!

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