Unexpectedly I fell in love with a hot Sicilian island. From the first days of my stay, I immediately understood that I need to return here. At least because it is impossible to see even one-third of everything in one week.
The whole island is made up of nine provinces. Each has its characteristics, local traditions, and dishes. I decided not to waste time on long journeys and to explore the east coast of the island.
Can you imagine the city which rose from ashes? This city was twice destroyed – by an earthquake and by lava flows after the eruption of the volcano. Catania was rebuilt, which allowed creating a town with a unique Baroque style architecture, which was popular in the 1690s.
The easiest way to get to Catania is by train. From the train station, you can easily reach the center by foot and explore the city. Of course, you can use public transportation. There is one metro line that runs through the railway station — the cost of one ticket for 90 minutes is 0.90 euros. Moreover, there is a well-developed bus system. There are more than 50 routes in Catania! You can view the schedule at http://www.amt.ct.it/?page_id=48. A single fare costs 1 euro, and an unlimited daily pass costs 2.5 euros.
I advise you to come to the city center early in the morning and immediately move towards the Pescheria market. Just in a few hours, locals, cooks and, of course, tourists will dismantle the entire catch, so I advise you to hurry! Behind the square, Piazza Duomo is the market, which is not difficult to find – go to the smell of the fish and the cries of merchants.
The name itself is derived from the Italian word “pesce” (fish).
Dozens of stalls selling fish and seafood – octopus, lobster, shrimp and the most popular swordfish in Sicily.
Walk a little farther, and there you can find all sorts of fruits, meat, spices, and sweets. Eyes scatter from such diversity, the main thing – do not go there hungry.
After the market, you can return to the main square of Duomo where you can find the cathedral. Interestingly, Giovanni Battista Vaccarini Duomo was building a facade of the cathedral over 30 years so that we could see it as it is today – you may spend 20 minutes looking at this fantastic building.
Do not rush to look into a map and follow the tourist route. Just walk through the streets of Catania – you will see all the main places by yourself! Sicily has its unique cuisine that you can not try in other regions of Italy. It is also cheaper than on the mainland. Do not miss the opportunity to try the most famous local street food is arancini. It is a deep fried rice ball with different fillings – meat, tomatoes, spinach, and even all together! The cost is 2.5 euros, and it can be a great snack in a long walk.
If you want to try something more exquisite, visit some local restaurants. Choose one without a permanent menu. They prepare only a few dishes a day from fresh produce brought from local markets this morning. Tomatoes, eggplants, and mozzarella often are the main ingredients. Oh, if you knew how the Sicilian mozzarella buffalo is melting in your mouth – I have no words to describe this taste!
And do not forget to try the local wine from the vineyards of Etna. Interestingly, the Etna highland wine zone was the first in Sicily in the DOC category (Denominazione di Origine Controllata). Even if you are not a wine expert, you should try at least one glass of this unique drink.
Fera O’ Luni – another market, no as popular among tourists as Pescheria. A lot of things are sold here, but the main thing is the fruit and vegetable department.
To my surprise, the prices in this market are the cheapest I have ever seen. For example, I bought a kilogram of apricots, kg of strawberries and a kg of cherries for only 5 euros – could you imagine! Unnecessary to tell you about how juicy and fragrant they were.
In the evenings, people go to the center of the city, meet with friends over a glass of wine or beer, and share the events of the last days.
I will be honest; I did not feel comfortable in the evening in Catania. Several local people warned which streets I should not enter in the evening, and generally, it’s better not to walk alone during the dark time.
If you ask a Sicilian what the beauty is the answer will be: “it is when one can see greenery and the sea. But if there are mountains nearby – a real paradise!”.
That is why every year when the season begins, all the locals come to Taormina.
It seemed to me that there were too many people in the city, but in July and August, there are just thousands of tourists! If you arrive by train, you can get to the city by bus, or on foot. The walk will take about 40 minutes, but they will pass unnoticed – there are stunning views! Coming closer you can see the beach and the thin sand bar that leads to Isola Bella. The tiny island is open to visiting. The entrance fee is 5 euros. Just look at the coast and the number of people here!
Just a 5 minutes walk from the Isola Bella there is a cable car, which takes you to the center of Taormina. The cost of travel in one direction is 3 euros.
On the main street Corso Umberto, there are dozens of tourist places, pastry, and coffee shops. At every step, you can see tiny nooks that go down and up from the main street. You will be offered to try cannoli in every pastry. I advise you to go to the best one – La Pignolata Guinness Cannoli. Here they are the most delicious, believe me!
I was allowed to go into the kitchen and gaze the cooking process. Every morning they bake waffles and knead the creams. Traditionally, cannoli is filled with ricotta cream, but there are more variations. In this pastry shop, you can try a select pistachio paste. They call it green Nutella, and there is something similar between them! Pistachio paste smeared on a tuba, and then fill it with cream and sprinkled with chopped pistachio. Impossible to forget that taste!
I advise you to walk from Taormina to Castelmola, which is a small town on the top of a mountain. You can get there by bus, or you can go on foot. I hope you are not afraid of a small trekking walk, because the views of the sea, Taormina and the mountains from here are incredible!
Another city that I managed to visit – the birthplace of the great Greek mathematician Archimedes. Syracuse city is divided into two parts – the main part and the historical center, which is located on the island called Ortigia.
Walking the streets, you can almost always see the sea, where in the morning you can meet fishermen. As in Catania, in the center of the city, there is the old atmospheric market of Syracuse. Here you can buy fish and meat, and local delicacies. Sellers are calling loudly to the counters, someone is offering to drink oysters, someone is preparing a special sandwich “panino” in front of dozens of cameras, and someone is grilling seafood caught several hours ago in the Ionian Sea.
Of course, Sicily is not only the cities but also the unique nature. But that’s another story… See you soon!
Romanna’s trip to eight cities (five islands) in Europe cost a total of $815 (flights only). To build your own cheap multicity itinerary, visit SkySurf.Travel.
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