Sicily inside out: Part 4: Catania

Catania is Sicily’s second largest city, with a population of over 300,000. Like any big city, Catania looked really unattractive, messy, noisy and busy at first. Our accommodation was very centrally located, but on an awkward, sofa-flooded commercial street. And amid the sofas – big barrels for baking chestnuts, something observed all over Sicily but most popular here in Catania it seems. True and authentic Sicily! 🙂

Due to its closeness to Etna volcano, Catania had been destroyed twice in the 17th century, following a lava eruption first, and then earthquake. After that the town was reconstructed in Baroque style using a a cheap and much available building material – lava! That’s the reason Catania is a grey city and is well known in the world for this.

The main square of the city – Pizza Duomo – seems to be a central point with lots of events on it. We were lucky to join a Barilla pasta fest, with tasting and demos of different types of pasta dishes!

And Sunday early morning, the square hosted a bike fest!

The symbol of the city is the Fontana dell’Elefante – a black lava elephant bearing on its back an ancient Egyptian obelisk covered with hieroglyphs. The monuments celebrates the cult of the Egyptian goddess Isis – another proof of the cultural mix observed in Sicily.

A most-enjoyable place in Catania is Giardino Bellini – an enormous city park with lots of fountains and plants typical of numerous geographic locations.

And finally, we checked Castello Ursino – a residence for many kings and noble people in Catania. It once was once a coastline castle, but later on, due to the lava flow and extension of the coastline, got 1 km inland. The castle now hosts the civic museum and galleries.

And finally, a memory from Catania would be a take-away coffee I ordered, which was wrapped in paper and put in a nylon bag! I never miss the chance to get a coffee in Italy, and it was my first time enjoying such take-away wrap 🙂

When I visit Sicily again – maybe I’d skip Catania (unless I want to get another pair of Bata boots with an awesome discount ;). It did offer a nice experience, but maybe one you could get in most big cities across Europe.

And so, after a great packed Italian coffee – off we were to one of the most splendid cities in Sicily – Siracuse. More on it in my next post.

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