Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Fonte Ciane - Siracusa's Ancient Azure Spring (and more Papyrus!)

If you are a lover of both nature and mythology, then the Fonte Ciane near the city of Siracusa is your kind of place.

The azure waters of the Fonte Ciane

This is where natural spring water bubbles to the surface in a circular pool, after having traveled underground several kilometers from the original source (sorgente di testa Pisima) that feeds the Ciane River. The ancient Greeks who once lived here named it Cyanos (Ciane in Italian) for the gorgeous azure blue color.

The tranquil atmosphere of the place is beautiful to experience in person. The unusually colored waters, the papyrus plants that ring its edges, and the antiquity all add to its mystique.

From here you can follow a trail and hike the the relatively short length of the Ciane River, as well as the nearby, much longer, Anapo River. Eventually the two meet at the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in Siracusa's Grande Porto. I  share our experience doing that here.

Even though we failed to reach the fonte on foot during our hike, we did manage to get there by car. An easy, well-signed and scenic drive was all it took. No additional hiking necessary!

It seems there are several different mythological stories associated with this place, but the one that seems to be most repeated tells that Kyane was a Naid-nymph of the spring. She is said to have witnessed the abduction of her playmate Persephone by the god of the underworld, Hades, who re-entered the earth down into his dark world with his captive at this very spring. After witnessing this event, the grief stricken Kyane dissolved away and merged into the waters of her spring. 

Travel sketch inspired by papyrus plants that grow abundantly along the Ciane river.
You can check out more of my work here.

All those papyrus plants reminded me of this drawing I made some time ago after encountering a bunch of papyrus growing in a neighbor's yard in Los Angeles! Something about these fanciful plants are so appealing and spark my imagination.

To complete our Siracusan adventure we made a quick stop at the lovely Ortigia. Shopping, eating, and more antiquity! This time exploring the Museo del Papiro where you can finally learn all about the history of the plant and ancient techniques that are still being used by artisans in the area for transforming the plant into paper.