Learn the fascinating history of this resilient town and its ability to overcome multiple disasters. Visit the cathedral, Elephant Square, the fish market, and the Roman Amphitheater. Have a snack or some typical Sicilian fast food. Then we'll tour the coast, seeing San Giovanni Li Cuti, Acicastello and Acitrezza. Weather permitting, watch the "San Silvestro a Mare", a swimming competition, and the inauguration of the New Year!
This trip was close to home and was inexpensive so we signed up. The bus arrived on-time! What? That was a huge surprise. However, the driver was apparently new because he kept grinding gears, making short stops and running over curbs.
On our drive to Catania (which is not very far) our tour guide Salvo (I think that must be a common Italian name) told us about the volcano eruption and lava that nearly destroyed all of Catania. He gave us a lot of history about the various people that have taken over Sicily. Greeks, Romans, Normans, Spaniards, Arabs; it seems that Sicily is a most desirable island. I only heard part of what he said because Norah was in a cranky mood and was whining and generally making a lot of noise.
We arrived to Catania and walked to Elephant Square. I finally got to see this place. I'd heard of it forever, but never figured out how to get there (and still don't know how we got there).
Salvo walked fast. He kept us moving and unfortunately we were nearly always bringing up the rear. We traipsed all over Catania, seeing interesting architecture and hearing the history.
Some how we ended back up to where we started from at Elephant Square and went into a bar and got some snacks. We picked up personal sized pizzas (these were the perfect size to hold in your hand and had a cute little name like pizzarini or something similar that I can't remember right now). They had cheese and sauce, but not a lot. I cannot believe I forgot to take a picture of them! They were yummy though and inexpensive.
|On the inside of the Cathedral.|
|Painting inside the Cathedral|
|The body cardinal Giuseppe Benedetto Dusmet|
|Getting ready for service|
|Outside (It's either Peter or Paul)|
Then we went back to the bus. I was so tired. We drove up the road a little bit to a Marina and watched some of the San Sivestro a Mare (New Years Eve at the Sea) "It's a tradition where people plunge into the cold waters of Ognina port in Catania."
|You can see how cold it was with everyone in coats and hats.|
|Some of the men.|
|Some of the ladies.|
|More men...they love Speedos in Europe!|
|A boat along the sidelines|
We took a short ride up the coast to Acitrezza. We of course parked the bus and then walked into town. It is beautiful by the coast. There are three islands there that are from the "The Odyssey". They are legend to be the stones thrown at Odysseus by the Cyclops.
|Norah and Cody|
The kids each had spaghetti with tomato sauce (pomodoro), I had seafood salad (insalata de frutti de mare) and Cody had Spaghetti scampi. The kids loved their spaghetti. I liked my seafood salad (though I couldn't finish it all...sometimes those creatures are a bit chewy and Cody liked his okay. It wasn't quite what he expected.)
|Norah loves bread, but just the inside soft part.|
|Cody's Spaghetti Scampi. It had claws! It tasted good though.|
|My seafood salad. It really was tasty.|
|Gavin loving his spaghetti!|
After we ate, Cody and the kids walked around to see the boats and water. I sat on some steps and then next to the water. I was really tired.
We met back up with Salvo and the rest of our tour group and make the long trek back to the bus. We made it home all in one piece.