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Postcard from Siracusa, Sicily

Swimming Platform, Siracusa
Swimming platform, Ortigia island, Siracusa,

Hello beautiful you!

It’s been some time since I have written a blog post here!

I thought time to give you an update on what’s going on here in the world of Akashic Love from here in beautiful Ortigia island, Siracusa, Sicily. 

In case you are not sure where Siracusa is, it’s on the Eastern coast of Sicily.

Sicily map
Siracusa is here

Sicily is an island at the bottom of the Italian mainland, with a very vibrant culture, it’s own (actually many) dialects of Italian, an incredible climate with sunny days most of the year, a sensational array of fruits and vegetables which are exported all over Europe, a long and interesting history, a passionate population and an active volcano (Etna). 

Ortigia Island, Siracusa, Sicily
Ortigia Island, Siracusa, Sicily

Siracusa is a Sicilian town on the south eastern coast of Sicily, where the ancient part of the town is actually on a small island, called Ortigia which is joined to the mainland and to the rest of Siracusa via two bridges (one for pedestrians and another for cars / scooters / bikes). The remaining part of Siracusa is bigger and newer than Ortigia – with the oldest buildings dating from the from the  about 18th / 19th centuries.

Santa Lucia Church, Siracusa, Sicily
Santa Lucia Church, Piazza Duomo, Siracusa, Sicily

Here in Ortigia I have been busking (playing guitar and singing) in the street, progressing on my project of facing my deepest fear – putting myself vulnerably out in public and sharing my gifts! Eeeek! It continues to be scary, and I continue the inner dialogue with myself which goes something like this:

Chelle at her Thursday night residency at a restaurant in Ortigia, Sicily
At my first ever solo singing restaurant gig in Ortigia, Sicily, July 2022

 Bad Cop: God, you have got to stop this! It’s ridiculous. It’s too scary for you, you make hardly any money, and anyway, you are not even that good. In fact you are pretty shite…. And nobody really cares about your music.

Good Cop: It’s OK, I know it’s hard but you are so brave to be continuing on this journey, even though you are shit scared every time. Keep going! You are making progress. And – don’t you see, no matter how many people walk past and ignore you, there is always an equal number who stop and cheer you on, and even give you some money. So – stop listening to bad cop. You have GOT this! Yeah (virtual inner fist pump).

~ Inner Self Dialogue ~

Luckily, so far, the good cop wins, and I continue on this journey of self discovery.

The amazing thing is that as you develop a relationship where your Inner Good Cop is always leading the Inner Bad Cop out of the shadows and into the light, miracles start to become normal for you. Because you are allowing your spirit to shine through you into the world, as it is meant to. 

Above is a pic of me at my Thursday night solo singing residency at a restaurant in Ortigia. This is something that I never expected to happen, but somehow, it did. A Sicilian artist who was selling his paintings and drawings every day on the street just down from the Piazza Duomo befriended me and became my fan, as I was regularly singing just next to his little shop. He started to suggest the best spots where I should set up to catch the most walking traffic. 

And then one evening he came up to me and said: ‘Tu devi cantare in questo ristorante!’ (you should sing here in this restaurant), pointing over to the restaurant nearby with about 40 tables in the piazza. I was like – really? I don’t think so! But he was adamant. He said he would speak to the boss about it, while I was nervously imagining the prospect of my very first gig as a solo singer accompanying myself on guitar, aged 48, in Sicily. 

It seemed funny and improbable. But here I was. The next day my friend caught me as I was walking down the street and said: OK, I’ve got you an interview! (I gasped, as I didn’t really believe this was going to eventuate), while he said – ‘tonight, at 5pm, you meet Giorgio the owner, over there (he pointed to a small cafe nearby) at his table.’ 

What happened at my ‘interview’ is a story in itself but suffice to say it lasted about 5 minutes with Giorgio (a heavyset, balding Sicilian in his early 60s who could easily stand in for Marlon Brando in the Godfather movies), saying: ‘OK, how much do you want?’ almost before I had time to sit down. And before I could open my mouth – ‘and don’t ask for too much!!!’ with a menacing grimace, before telling me I would have to sing for 3 hours straight (I said a flat no to that and successfully negotiated a modest salary of 30 euros – about 50 AU$), which I was actually delighted with for my very first solo gig as a troubadour. 🙂

So that was how my Thursday night restaurant resisdency at came about. 

I played for two hours, got lots of nice claps, some requests, and then was paid 30 euros and got served whatever I wanted from the menu for dinner. 

How does it feel to constantly face my fears and overcome them? How does it feel to be living on my edge? Can I stay the course? Can I feel all the feels and stay in my centre?

 

Here on the beautiful island of Ortigia in Siracusa, it’s a great place to carry out this life experiment as a singer songwriter, plying my tunes and those of others (like Elvis!) on the streets of this town. It’s an ancient town which was originally built by the (ancient!) Greeks in about 600 BC – and there are remains of that version of this town everywhere, including in two temples they constructed, one to the God Apollo (the remains are still recognisably a temple) and another to the Goddess Athena (this temple was subsequently integrated into the Cathedral of Siracusa, which dates from the 7th century AD).

Artesan vendors in Siracusa
Artisans plying their trade in Ortigia, Siracusa

The island of Ortigia (home to the old part of Siracusa city) is very much a walking town, built on human dimensions.

 The streets are narrow (apart from the grand piazzas like the Duomo), and there are hardly any cars present. 

The interactions here are human to human, everyone here in this tiny island city is walking. So it’s perfect for artists or all kinds to perform their work. 

As well as street musicians, there are mime artists and performers (a la Charlie Chaplin) and also many artisan people selling jewellery or hand made photographs and paintings as souvenirs.

Sometimes it literally feels like walking through a vaudeville act in a circus, just wandering the streets of Ortigia on a warm July afternoon. You see the puppeteer setting up his show for the night in his special spot in front of the Santa Lucia church, then you hear the amazing classical guitarist playing magically and reminding you of enchanting films set in Italy like ‘A Room with A View’. Before you turn the corner and there is an amazing karaoke opera singer belting out some of the numbers from Verdi’s Rigoletto or La Traviatta

Talented mime / portrait artist in Piazza Duomo, Ortigia
This photo (on right) is a Sicilian street performer who does a funny act in which she plays a comedic portraitist.
 
She has some old timey music playing (think Edith Piaf, Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby) and she catches people using a Charlie Chaplin mime style to come and sit for them.
Then she asks them to chose their colours (from her range of textas) and then sits down to draw their portrait, all the while making funny faces at them, a la Mr Bean, and squinting to try and get the portrait exactly right. In ten minutes she is done.

By then they are usually laughing and happy and so also happy to give the artist a generous donation… And they get to walk away with the portrait. A nice funny memory from Siracusa.

Want to Join me in Ortigia this July?

 

Would you like to experience the magic of Ortigia, Sicily with me this July on my ‘Divino Amore’ women’s retreat? 

This is going to be an intimate women’s retreat (currently 8 spaces left!) which will be all about reaching deep inside yourself and connecting with your inner Goddess

There is a temple to Athena here on the island of Ortigia (home to the ancient city of Siracusa) that was built by the original Greek inhabitants in the 6th Century BC. Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, Knowledge and Education (and also War!), is a powerful warrior woman who will helps us connect in with out warrior woman power to write our next life chapter. There will be energising and activating Yoga every morning, some Meditations, 3 Self Love Workshops, Group Singing and Drumming and lots of opportunities to explore the magic of Ortigia!

Find out more here

Street Artists (including yours truly) in the Piazza Duomo, Ortigia, Summer 2022