Friday, 10 February 2017

First Week in Sicily


From Genoa we left for Catania, it was easy to get to the airport buses left from outside the main railway station. We arrived late afternoon and was dropped off from the airport bus at what we were told was the city centre. It was Sunday and the main thoroughfare we were on was ‘dead’. Nothing was open. We walked down this road for what seemed a long way and eventually found the ‘real’ centre which was definitely bustling.
Duomo Piazza

As it was late we had lunch then found our way to our B&B which was close by. We dropped off our bags then off to see the nearby sits. While there an Indian contingent were celebrating with a colourful parade, music and chanting. We went to the Duomo the main cathedral which is worth a visit and sauntered around the Piazza looking at the various interesting buildings and the fountain with an elephant motif. There is a strong Indian presence here.

The following day we strolled around the fresh food market which is close to our accommodation, noting at how lucky we are at home in Melbourne having access to all these delicious Italian foods. Then to the mad frenzy of the fish market.
Fish Market Frenzy

We then walked along the Via Cruciferi with its many churches along the way to the Benedictine Monastery which was also worth a visit as it is quite extensive and we whiled away more time than we expected.

In the morning, having been unsuccessful in finding the laundromat we had been directed to, we set out along Mt. Etna St as I had found information on the internet that there was one along this street. Unable to find it I went into a shop and asked about it. I was directed to a customer who happened to be a woman who runs a laundry, she gathered us up and we dutifully followed her and left our washing with her. Obviously more expensive than a laundromat but at least we had our washing done.

The following day we went to Taormina a beautiful town but there were hordes of people (I think a cruise ship was in). We were recommended to go to the café Bam Bar to have their specialty granite and brioche found remarkably easy without a map. Well worth the visit. Though it rained a bit we managed to see much of this wonderful town with its fascinating sites and top quality shops. On our return to Catania we went to pick up our washing.
The best granite  café Taormina

A visit to Mt. Etna is a must and we took a half day excursion there, it was a small group of five. Paolo our guide was very informative. We were surprised to learn that Mt. Etna is actually a system of a number of volcanos, not just one and that lava moves very slowly. We didn’t go to the top but were able go visit a few of the lower craters. Then we went to cave which was cold, and had to wear a hard hat because the ceiling was low and a torch was the only light. The cave is a lava tunnel the features pointed out were lava blisters and lava ‘stalagtites.’ We were then taken to produce outlet to sample olive oil, olives, various pesto, honey, wine and limoncello. We restricted ourselves to just a few small bottles of olive oil and limoncello.
One of the many craters Mt. Etna

Our last day in Catania we took a spin on the ‘Hop on, Hop off’ bus is was mildly interesting not enough to ‘hop off’ anywhere. After this we went to the Ursino Castle which was worthwhile.

Then lunch and a visit to the Verga Museum which proved elusive as it wasn’t where indicated on the map so we gave up.


We arrived in Siracusa around 10.00 am we has a coffee then went to hunt out our accommodation and found it with minimal difficulty. Our B&B is on Ortgyia – the island in the more pleasant area of Siracusa. We visited a number of sites around the area and had a delicious lunch with a sea view at Mokrito restaurant.

The next day we had a trip to Noto a ‘seriously’ Baroque town of many churches and various buildings in the gorgeously over the top Baroque style. The town has a beautiful opera house which seats 380 people, not bad for a small town.
Baroque Church Noto

By lunchtime we were ‘Baroqued out’ and decided to catch the earlier train back, however we followed the wrong ‘Stazione” sign had a magical mystery tour and just made the train.

On our last day we went to the Archeological Park, there was much to see and definitely was worth the visit (both Greek and Roman theatres for starters). As we had arrived there early we
Theatre at Archeological Park
managed to return to town before it became too hot.

We returned to Mokrito for lunch as we had enjoyed their salads previously.

Early evening we went on an excursion around the bay which enjoyable. We visited some of the caves along the coast. The coolness of the caves and the cool breeze over the water was a nice change to the heat of the day.

On our return we went under a VERY low bridge and we all has to duck with our heads in our lap.

That night we went to dinner at a restaurant close to our accommodation, the food and service was good but the boss (Basil Fawlty) and one of his poor waiters (Manuel) was like ‘Fawlty Towers.

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