Short short with English summary
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Xmas$B!G(B and New Year$B!G(Bs days are actually good for sightseeing. Streets, shops and restaurants are full with local people, good service and moderate prices.
I was in Palermo just before last Xmas. By a night ferry from Naples to Palermo, 300km$B!G(Bs distance, I arrived early in the morning. The ferry boat was big; 30,000 tons with the capacity of 1,471 passengers and 624 vehicles.
Sicily is just 3 km away from the toe of the boot, the Italian peninsula, is a triangle formed island, the largest in the Mediterranean, larger than Shikoku, smaller than Kyushu. 140 km South of Sicily, the huge African continent begins.
The extremely old ancient Egypt, the Greek and the Roman periods, the Mediterranean area has always been the stage of European history. The south of the Italian peninsula was called Magna Grecia and was inhabited by Greeks. One of the best kept Greek ruins is in Paestum, south of Naples. Archimedes$B!G(B principle$B!G(Bs Archimedes was born and lived in Syracuse, Sicily.
On this Mediterranean stage of history, appeared the West and the East Roman Empires, the Muslim Nations and dynasties, the Christian nations and dynasties. Even the Scandinavian dynasty, the Norman, performed here. The rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Topkapi Palace with its treasure is so famous, doomed the destinies of the today$B!G(Bs Balkan nations. There were the France-Algeria conflicts. And the Palestine-Israeli problem has long been on the stage without any perspective.
Sicily is situated in the very centre of this Mediterranean area. The waves of the history continuously have reached and washed over the island. It has been so continuous that there has never been such a period as the dark medieval time. $B!H(BNew power-rivalry-war-conquest$B!I(B; such a stereotyped explanation of the European history can not be applied here Sicily. Being a Roman province but admitted to keep Greek customs. Even to day we find reminiscences of Greek language in the Sicilian dialect. In the court of Norman dynasty, three languages, three officials; Arabic, Greek and Latin worked together. Sicily had never been a part of the Ottoman Empire. But we meet dense Turkish culture. For me, Sicily is really a splendid textile woven of the Mediterranean history.