A spectacular Greek Gateway on a hill impresses the traveler to Naxos. I was on a local ferry, admiring the clear sea waters. I could not take my gaze off the gate. I realized this had to be a special place. The Portara marble gate is part of the unfinished temple of Apollo in 530B.C. It is the island’s symbol. It stands at the harbor entrance.
The construction was started by the ruler, the Tyrant Lygdamis in the 6th century B.C. It was meant to be built as a spectacular temple, like the Olympic Zeus in Athens. It was never finished because Lygdamis was overthrown. It is on the islet of Palatia, that worshipped Ariadne, a Cretan princess, and Dionysus, the God of wine. In the 6th and 7th century a Christian church was built on its ruins.1
The first Greek colony in Sicily was in Naxos,” said Dr. Gaetano Cipolla. “We are Greek-Sicilians.” This was my introduction to a fabulous two-day stay in Giardini-Naxos on Sicily’s Ionian sea coast, during a past Arba Sicula Society tour. Our stay began in June at the all-inclusive hotel Caesar’s Palace. A Greek flag was prominently displayed at the entrance with other international flags. Greek columns and vases were displayed, next to oleanders.
Rosario Scandurra, the owner of the Caesar Palace Gift Shop, said “we love our American clients. Greeks are like family to us. Naxos in Greece has a special relationship with us. We are twins and have mutual relations.” A four foot tall Greek vase decorates the entrance to his shop.2 Both are beautiful places with the same gracious hospitality. Memories to be treasured, in the summer of 2020 that will see few American tourists.