We arrived in Catania last night after a 40 minute flight from Valletta, Now that is my kind of flight! We are staying in an old palace in Catania that was owned by an admiral in the 1800s. It has been structurally repaired but retains its old world charm. The frescos on the ceiling of our room are particularly delightful and the room has several tiny terraces that give a view of the street.
Catania seems to have once been an orderly regal town, but looks like it is past its prime, with many beautiful buildings in disrepair. The Piazza Duomo was an exception and it has a large elephant at its centre (emblem of the city). A highlight was the Catania fish market, which has street food in the evening – we went on our last night – slightly edgy but fun.
We caught the train to Taormina, which is about 45 minutes from Catania. The town itself is nowhere near the train station, but rather a climb of several km up a precipitous hill (or a car/bus ride). We walked. It was worth the climb as the view was breathtaking. I even spied a lovely blue pool (that I dearly wished to dive into – it was 33 degrees and the hill was terribly steep). It was quite daunting seeing Mount Etna blowing off a bit of steam in the background though.
The township of Taormina is beautiful though somewhat of a tourist trap. The main street, Corso Vittorio Emmanuele, was full of restaurants, jewelry and clothing shops (I am not saying it is a bad thing!). It is good for the failing Italian economy and I am happy to help out by shopping a bit!
It has a Greek Theatre that was originally constructed early in the 7th century BC. It had a backdrop of Mount Etna so those Greeks were onto a really good thing very early on. The Romans came along much later in the piece and built a wall on the “stage” effectively blocking the view of Etna. However time has corrected that as the wall is no longer standing in the centre allowing us spectacular views now. It is still used for performances – imagine going to one of those, it would be magical.
Tomorrow we leave the sun and fly to northern Italy to see my family. We will not have Internet access for a few days so the next blog post may be delayed. Ciao for now.