Sicily is an island rich in historical and artistic testimonies.
It’s an island where traditions are handed down with pride, where the soil gives natural evocative landscapes and intensely flavored products.
To plan an eastern Sicily tour, the ideal choice is to do based in Catania, friendly and lively city at any time of the year.
how to visit ETNA. ESCURSIONs and tips
Catania rises at the southern foot of Etna, the most majestic active volcano in Europe, that – with its 3,350 meters – dominates and in some way protects the city.
In effect, it seems that the continuous movement of the volcano safeguards the area – seismic in itself – by strong earthquake shocks.
Moreover the volcanic soil confers a great intensity and unique characteristics to the agricultural products.
We think of the Bronte pistachio nuts, the prickly pears, apples, pears, strawberries, citrus fruits, and then to the olives and to vines, that connoisseurs recognize to be among the most renowned in Italy.
People from Catania likes to say that in their city you can ski and go to sea in the same day, and in fact skiing with the seaview is one of the most fascinating activities that Etna has to offer.
But it’s not the only one. You can for example go discovering the craters going across trails in 4×4.
Or you can prefer a slower pace and devote yourself to walks and trekking.
In any case it’s astonishing to admire the landscape, from forestland becoming almost lunar.
The Etna can also be visited by train, using the Circumetnea.
This historic railway from over 100 years goes along the volcano’s slopes, offering a unique view on its lands of lava.
For a visit to the Catania region, it may be sufficient a 4 nights stay.
The program would be divided like this:
- the historical center of Catania: all evenings and 1 whole day
- Etna: 1 day
- Taormina, including quick steps also to Acitrezza and Acicastello: 1 day
- Ortigia, the historical part of Syracuse: 1 day
VISIT CATANIA IN 1 day.
WHAT TO SEE, THE ITINERARY WITH THE BEST OF CATANIA’S CITY CENTER
Catania is a lively and genuine city, with its many clubs, the movida and the markets.
To visit Catania in 1 day, focus on the historic center and start from a gourmand breakfast at the historical pasticceria Savia.
Do not expect the usual croissant, but whole showcases filled with cassatelle, nougat, cannoli and pistachio pastes, over and above arancini and other savory specialities.
Then get down along via Etnea, the Catania main street.
Glance at the palaces courtyards and at the churches that appear at the end of the side streets, and reach piazza Duomo, with the splendid cathedral of Sant’Agata, patron saint of the city.
Just behind the cathedral, you will find a special place, where to take a trip through time in the Sicilian confectionery’s tradition.
At I dolci di Nonna Vincenza you relive the story about little Vincenza, helping with dedication the confectionery aunt to prepare sweets for the weddings in town.
They were the ’30s in Agira, a village of the Sicilian inland. Over time, the aunt’s secrets were handed down in the respect of the tradition.
Nowadays in the NonnaVincenza’s properties they cultivate biological almonds and pistachios, to ensure the quality of the raw materials used.
Another gem for wine and local products lovers is the Enoteca di Sicilia, in Corso Vittorio Emanuele.
A stop here is a must do. You will love the owners kindness and their typical products, from pistachios to the traditional bakes.
The CATANIA fish market
The top venue to live the chaotic spontaneity of Catania people remains the market.
The fish market in Catania is one of the oldest in Europe and every morning in the streets next to the Duomo, it involves hundreds of tourists and citizens, fascinated by the variety of fresh fish and by the sellers cries.
Here you can breathe the popular tradition, and that’s the true soul of the city.
To savor the Piscaria products, have lunch in the taverns just next to the market’s banks.
Choose MM Trattoria (once Marino Butcher, now fish tavern) for the famous caponata, an excellent pasta alla Norma and a delicious swordfish parmigiana.
In the afternoon enjoy the artistic side of the city, going up to the Roman Theater, the oldest theater in Catania.
Based on a pre-existing Greek theater, it’s now surrounded by houses of the 800 whose walls are confused with the archaeological remains.
THE FEAST OF SANT’AGATA IN CATANIA
Continue along via Crociferi, the gem of the Catania baroque, with its high concentration of eighteenth-century churches.
Here they were set movies as Il bell’Antonio by Bolognini and Story of a capinera by Zeffirelli.
On the occasion of the Feast of Sant’Agata, which the city devotes 3 days of festivities, the procession ends exactly in via Crociferi.
In front of the San Benedetto church, the cloistered nuns sing a song before the patron is returned into the cathedral.
The last stage of this short tour of the Catania historical center can be the Villa Cerami’s garden, nowadays head office of the faculty of law, and the Bellini Garden, with its majestic staircase, the statues and fountains.
You are now to the start point, just in front of the Pasticceria Savia, …is it the occasion for another taste?
| Credit third image: I dolci di nonna Vincenza – Copyright fourth image: The Style Lovers |
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