We usually take turns deciding where to travel to next. Earlier this year we both agreed we should veto any suggestions of Italy trips since we’ve already been there quite a few times. So guess what happened?
Catania was the starting point for our week long visit to Sicily. We booked a B&B a 20 minute drive out of the city and went on day trips to Etna, Taormina, Syracusa, Noto and Ragusa (we’ll be sharing more about the other places soon).
To explore Catania we booked a street food tour from Streaty and it was one of the highlights of the trip! Our guide Aureliano was one of the friendliest people I’ve met and was incredibly passionate about Sicily and of course Sicilian food. We’re working on an article about all the delicious food we had in Sicily where we’ll talk in more detail about our experience so stay tuned!
We spent our first morning on the food tour starting from Piazza del Duomo the where you can see Cathedral of Catania (Cattedrale di Sant’Agata) and the Fountain of the Elephant (Fontana dell’Elefante).
Walking past Fontana dell’Amenano we went into Catania fish market which is a must if you want to get a true feel of the city and understand the local’s deep relationship and respect for good food, hard work and family business. You learn to walk to the pace of the group and to the song of the fishermen, breaking rhythm only to buy something (or if you’re a local to say hello to friends and neighbours).
After a good lesson in market business, we continued our exploration of Catania on charming, quiet streets from one delicious food stop to another.
Walked along via Crociferi where we admired the gorgeous baroque architecture and old churches.
Caught glimpses of the sea where our tour and our morning exploring Catania came to an end.
We headed back to the hotel to relax around the pool for the afternoon and then out to eat some more heavenly food (for me that’s code for pasta! and pizza for me).
We had an early night as the next morning we booked a hike on Etna. Just as a disclaimer I’m not exactly the sportiest person (yoga is the most hard core I go) and you have a better chance to find me lost deep in a book rather than out in the nature but I was blown away by our day on Etna.
The guide was rather quiet and my impression was that he was just letting everyone take in the beauty of the volcano at their own pace. He would answer our questions and occasionally present us interesting facts but other than that Ernesto was quite the opposite of Aureliano. To summarise the experience – it’s off the beaten track however the highest we reached was about 2000m and our trek started from 1800m. Sadly we didn’t get to see the volcano tip but the beauty of the hike probably made up for it.
The are different levels of difficulty for the hikes and we chose a medium one which apart from the first 20 minutes up hill is a paced walk. However, the nature is incredible and worth every effort.
It’s an ever changing landscape with pine forests on some areas
steep moss covered hills …
Extraterrestrial shaped rocks, lava tubes (caves) and volcanic rock and sand
With pops of colour and life every step of the way.
The weather that day was capricious and kept changing from sunny to windy to rain within minutes which really made us feel like we were somewhere far away, in a land with its own rules you have to learn to adapt to very quickly.
I was so amazed by the nature we discovered on Etna and would highly recommend booking an activity there if you’re ever in Sicily.
Our first two days in Catania were contrasting – a food tour on the first and a hike on Etna on the second – what type of holidays do you usually go for? Do you prefer urban explorations or are you a nature fan? We’d love to hear from you!