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Papyrus Garden


It’s a very modest sign that announces the “Piccolo Zoo” just across the road behind Syracusa’s archeological park. A papyrus [Cyperus papyrus] lined gravel road leads to a gate that opens into a garden-like picknick zone operated by Angelo (and his family) who is in charge of a multitude of hens, roosters (permanently crowing), ducks and more ducks, geese, parakeets, canaries, pheasants, two swans (at least) plus a wire confinement lived in by guinea pigs, rabbits, goats and probably still something else. The garden design is enhanced by glass balloons, vases, broken plaster remants and white enamelled chairs and tables. Apart from tending the picknick area and gardening, he might even be the creator of the two giant paper-maché heads towering behind the bushes.

The “Piccolo Zoo” is at the same time one of the places where the art of making paper from the papyrus plant is explained and administered. A wooden hut in the middle of the premises serves as a semi-touristy but very charming selling point of the fabricated sheets. The town of Syracuse has its own paper museum which certainly gives ALL information about the history and the process of paper creation. But the “Little Zoo” has something “airy-fairy” about it that is hard to grasp. Last but not least the wooden hut is wonderfully climatized– an absoute blessing today!

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