Day 8 in Siracusa, Sicily and Malta: 1 Caravaggio and no ferry

Lucia or Lucy, a young woman from Siracusa during the reign of Emperor Diocletian, sought to remain a virgin and devote her life to Christ. Nevertheless, her mother arranged a marriage to a young man. When Lucia remained firm in her desire, her betrothed reported her to the Roman authorities, who were persecuting Christians. The authorities sentenced Lucia to a brothel but when the tried to drag her from prison to the brothel, they could not move her. She was sentenced to be burned to death, but they could not light a fire. Finally, they stabbed her and she died. She was buried in the catacombs outside Siracusa. 

Around 1600, a martyrium was built and her remains moved to the new building. The Senate of Siracusa commissioned Caravaggio to paint the altarpiece, The Burial of St. Lucy.

When Caravaggio fled Malta, he went to the nearest port, Siracusa. There, his work started showing change. He executed the painting in 1 month. He was doubly hunted. Either could be the cause of the painterly style, but the latter is more likely the explanation for the bleakness and diminution of light. The painting shows, for the first time, a canvas  half occupied by essentially blank space, which adds to the melancholy, and can be interpreted as evoking death.

We had the church to ourselves because someone with the church opened it early. We needed the early time because we had to return to Catania to catch a flight to Malta. We were to take the ferry but bad weather resulted in the ferry’s cancellation. Mistral winds according to our bus driver. So we also missed a walking tour around the Ortigia area of Siracusa. Too bad. What little I saw looked beautiful. 

Saw Mount Etna driving to the airport. You cannot see it but there are small puffs of smoke rising from the volcano.

The Ryanair flight from Catania to Malta lasted 40 minutes. Getting through security took longer. Our hotel in Malta scores pluses and minuses. On the minus side: it is not in historic Valletta but on Balluta Bay to the east and not at all a historic building. On the plus side: there are good sea views and I am in a massive suite.

The view from one of my two balconies

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