June 2 is the Festa Della Republica in Italy and Sicily. It is a national holiday that marks the 1946 vote to become a republic. We celebrated the occasion by going snorkeling in a nature reserve near Siracusa.
We were fitted with flippers and masks—a process that produced a colorful mound of gear, shown in the first photo above, as the proprietor searched for something that would fit my size 13 gunboats—then took a speedy boat from a dive shop located along the harbor in the old section of Siracusa. After skimming and bouncing across the waves we reached the reserve, donned our gear, and tumbled into the water, which was chilly in some spots and warmer in others. We then padded over to the cliff and a cave.
Regrettably, we snorkelers didn’t see as many fish in the water as we hoped. In fact, the most visible fish were on the Sicilian CEO’s brightly colored swim trunks. Still, it was fun paddling around, checking out the underwater reefs, and cool to snorkel into a cave. Our friendly guide showed us a sea urchin and a beautiful, bright red starfish, and the divers in our group saw an octopus.
Our Festa Della Repubblica celebration ended with an excellent dockside lunch served by the dive shop crew. It was all good, but the rice, mussel, and clam concoction, shown in the center of the photo below, was particularly delicious and would be a terrific addition to any Fourth of July cookout. I’ve eaten lots of fish and shellfish over the last few days and enjoyed every bite. Now, if only it would make me a stronger swimmer . . . .