Here are a few words and a lot of pictures about our visit to Sicily’s second largest city; Catania, a visit we made with Laura and Neil the day after a bit of a BBQ session and only two days after conquering Mt Etna. The plan was to get a cab to the station and then a train ride to Catania. The plan did not last long as I was having trouble walking and speaking at the same time and so for an extra €5 a head we went by taxi all the way with our mate Roasario. First thing to report is my Italian is coming along nicely as I was able to explain to ‘Rozzer’ the reason I support Liverpool is because my mum is a scouser. Rozzer himself I learned supports Acireale who currently are languishing in the Italian 4th Division, but like Man City and Chelsea there is hope for any old washed-up club.
The History Bit
Catania shimmers in a distinct hue with the buildings being constructed in either the local limestone or the local Lava that has a habit of pouring down the mountainside from Etna and rudely depositing itself unwanted in the middle of the town. Most notably in 1693 when 12,000 people lost their lives as a result of an untimely delivery of over-heated Black building stone. Even now the place is covered with a fine dusting of soot that covers everything in town and the local government tries its best to keep the many splendid baroque buildings looking sparkly. Most of the rebuild after the 1693 catastrophe was carried out by deranged architect/Baroque master Giovanni Vaccarini whose legacy has left the centre of Catania as a World heritage Site. Not bad Giovanni.
Catania is everything that Palermo is not. Catania has a main shopping street with shops, Palermo does not. Catania has wonderful Squares and a cosmopolitan feel, Palermo does not. Palermo has some world-class attractions like the Palazzo dei Normanni, Catania does not. Catania is a more pleasant to walk around but if you want an edgy feel than head for Palermo.
We started off with a visit to the street markets, collectively known as La Pescheria, heading from the north we first passed through the food and clothing markets before reaching the aquatic-based highlight. A pic for you:
The fish-market is a bustling place where the vendors raucously hawk their wares and offer up swordfish cut up in family-sized portions including the head and beak.
Swordfish Platter for 1
In real life you do not get a horse’s head in your bed, you get a fish
Dave, Del and Derrick collectively known as The Frying Burrito Brothers, with Dirty Hands
After all that it was time for the hard-core major sight-seeing of the architecture. It is a provincial city much like Bristol and at the end of the day there is only much you can say and do in provincial cities. You can spend a pleasant day in one but you wouldn’t want to stay there. First a couple of pics of the squares.
I recognise him from the London Underground
The Black Elephant
However, unlike Bristol Catania does have a wonderful park dedicated to the composer Bellini where there are views of Mt Etna to be had.
View from Bellini Park
After all that sight-seeing it was time for a well-earned rest and a Gelato. No holding back as I put my whole face into a lemon brioche filled with pistachio while Tracy looked on noshing a kebab, old habits die hard. Full of new vigour we visited a kitchen shop and bought a collapsible bowl to drain pasta with as ours no longer works. I have no idea why, perhaps it is something to do with the colour. Time to go now and we will leave you with a last couple of shots of Catania, a reasonable place to spend a day in.
Love to All