Damning With Faint Praise

I’ve thought quite a bit about what to write about Catania, Sicily. Getting right to the point, we didn’t like it much and won’t be back. But rather than focusing on the negative, I’ll write about the high points of our three day stay in Catania.

First, all the service people we encountered were very polite and professional – the people working in restaurants, the B&B and even in the crazy car rental agency. It’s curious to see how different people are in professional settings from the everyday people driving cars and in the streets. There has to be some overlap, but…it was like two different populations. Go figure.

Another highlight of this part of our trip was a guided Jeep trip up the 11,000 foot high Mt. Etna, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_bb40Beautiful views, an interesting and very knowledgeable guide and some unique experiences like creeping through a lava tube. I now know a LOT more about vulcanology than before, and Mt. Etna is a great place to learn it. We had a great evening with our guide and a couple of nice folks from Holland.The featured image at the top of this post is of our guide standing on a lava flow. And on the left we have our intrepid crew standing in a caldera most of the way up the volcano.

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The final positive on our Catania stay was a spectacular restaurant, L’ Horloge, meaning The Clock in French. Simply superb food, great service and atmosphere and an excellent wine list. I selected a Mt. Etna-produced red, a 2010 Aglianico that was perfectly balanced and tasty. Add to that UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_be7c.jpgthe best caprese salad ever and some perfect risotto. We liked it so much we came back a second night for the caprese. We liked L’Horloge much more than the reviewers on Tripadvisor.

There were very few scenic views on our strolls around Catania. We took lots of photos but came away with very few worth sharing – it’s just not what I would call a “scenic” city. One nice scene was this shot of an alley filled with restaurants and decorated in an interesting way (oddly, we saw exactly the same scene/decoration in the NuLu area of Louisville. I’m guessing Catania was first.

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So that’s it for our first three days in Sicily. Palermo comes next. In closing I will say that driving in Sicily continues to be terrifying. Part of it may be that I’m just older than in previous European driving experiences, but I think that’s a minor factor. The streets, cars, cycles and drivers in Sicily are simply crazed. There are no rules other than aggression – it’s like one big Mad Max race. So we’ve changed our plans and will garage the car once we arrive in Palermo, using it only to get back to the airport. Live and learn, I suppose. Ciao.

 

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