Siracusa and Ortigia

Europe’s oldest church is an add-on to a former Temple to Athena; Catholic style draws upon the Greek more obviously when the two are juxtaposed.  Food delicacies include sardines, pistachio, imaginative use of bread crumbs, unparalleled swordfish, smoked tuna, zucchini, sweet and sour pumpkin, fennel, and as in the Arab world the line between the meal and the sweets is not as firm as the French have tried to make it.  Most of all, the ricotta stands out.  Order a pasta “norma” style, with ricotta on top, and then have ricotta for dessert too.

Depopulation is evident, even in the beautiful areas near the sea on Ortigia.  Fifty years from now, will it be empty, a crowded tourist theme park, ruled by Chinese capital, or full of Tunisians?  Is the embedded cultural capital in current Siracusan society positive or negative in value?  Is mobility equalizing average rates of return?

No one seems to mind that most of the art museum is rotting away.  Ordinary life here has very little to do with the internet.  The cats are skinny and fearful.  The visit is splendid.


"Fifty years from now, will it be empty, a crowded tourist theme park, ruled by Chinese capital, or full of Tunisians?"
My bet is it will be full of Tunisians.

Why does the question have to be "or"?
Full of Tunisians AND ruled by Chinese capital is perfectly possible.

Our favorite spot in Sicily we discovered on our last day. Was very tempted to join the throngs getting on the ferry to Malta. What I remember most from Sicily, in addition to Siracusa, were the towns along the southern coast with block after block of abandoned half finished apartment buildings, and the Roman mosaics in Piazza Amerina.

The two giveaways of any great destination: skinny cats, and lots of goats.

Glad you are enjoying Siracusa, and Ortigia, as much as I have in the past.

I hope you are writing your posts from a cafe in the Plaza Archimede, or near the cathedral.

The future? Who knows?

I often see places like this and think to myself:
a) How incredible the location and climate is.
b) How cheap the property is.
c) How affordable the cost of living is.

Combined you wonder why you don't just move, well obviously there are language barriers, culture shock and often a lack of amenities required to earn a living (namely broadband internet).
I've often wondered if the solution to the above would be to create a colonization collective, a group of like minded individuals, in my case 30 something information workers, and plan to purchase and entire block of housing. Bring in amenities and creature comforts required, set up a shop even and just take over.

Now, before you let your gut reaction take over just think this through, often these communities are dying, the young have left for the big city and the local economy is in decline. Imagine the positive effects this foreign horde would have, don't forget the whole idea is that they'll still be earning western wages as remote workers.

I think it wouldn't be problem free but it certainly an idea worth considering.

It's been tried, even from a pull rather than a push perspective:

Having been to Sicily myself, it really is gorgeous, but I can't imagine the sort of bureaucracy/mafia jungle you'd have to fight through to get American- or Northern European-level IT services in a remote town.

Could you do it by satellite?

Satellite would work in the sense that you could connect that way, but it has limitations (based on the speed of light, so not ones that can be overcome by future technological advances) that make it intolerable for doing real work, especially on a day-to-day basis. It's better than nothing, but you'd have a hard time convincing people whose jobs depend on network connectivity to put up with it.

e.g. Skype over a satellite connection would be awful I expect. But never tried it.

Please keep me posted.

Mr. Mackrel, its a good question. However:

1. Often the economies in these places can't generate enough jobs to support people born there, let alone lots of people moving there. Sicily has been exporting people for centuries now. If you move there, it would be to retire.

2. There are still lots of legal barriers if you want to move to another country, even more if you want to work there, and even more if you want to open a business that exports to another country, or brings in workers or materials to another country. Corporations do this, but they have more pull than individuals.

People on the internets tend to underestimate the problems of relocating to another place.

I often wonder what the world's population distribution would look like if there were indeed no barriers to immigration.

What would it cost simply to exterminate the mafia on Sicily? No doubt it wouldn't be hard to find out which families would need to be slaughtered. The ROI would be fantastic. (Similarly, how much to exterminate the Provisional IRA families in Northern Ireland and the Republic? Cheap at the price, I'd guess.)

Glad to hear the dear dusty old museum in Siracusa is still it was in the early '80s. Do the prostitutes still ply their wares from behind half-opened doors in the houses across from the waterfront?

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