After sleeping and sweating through the overnight train from Roma to Syracuse, the Sicilian beaches were a welcome comfort. In the first three weeks of the trip, we enjoyed busy days filled with sightseeing and monuments, we saw the remnants of history and were able to imprint them in our memory, and we moved about by foot, car, bus, and train. It was an exciting time, but exhausting, too.

Standing in front of a bridge on the shore of Syracuse
Walking about Syracuse

Our free days in Sicily, however, were a relief from scheduled activity. In my four mostly independent days, I saw the Temple of Apollo and happened across a few historic churches. My time, however, didn’t focus on the monuments.

On our last Italian Sunday, I woke up late, had a quiet breakfast, and set out to see Syracuse. I didn’t have a destination in mind, I rejected my old friend Google Maps, and just walked about streets at random. I ducked into shops that looked interesting, I spent some money, I looked through jewelry stalls, I enjoyed some gelato, met up with some friends by chance, and strolled to the water. 

All this unplanned action was simultaneously exhilarating and relaxing, and it let me map out my part of Syracuse. I took my friends to my favorite shops, we joked about the yachts in the water, and just wound down together. Afterwards, we went down to the beach, swam around, sorted rocks, and did whatever we pleased.

My advice to future travelers: visit monuments and see history, but don’t forget to walk around and enjoy the present, too. Take some time for browsing or shopping, take a break to look at picturesque views, and save some time for “chilling,” as one of my fellow travelers would say.