Day Trips from Catania

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Apr 21st, 2008, 09:01 AM
  #1
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Join Date: Mar 2005
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Day Trips from Catania

I will be staying with a friend for four nights in Catania after spending three nights in Taormina and was wondering if anyone could recommend any day trips from there? We'll probably get to Etna on the first half of our trip and are looking for other options. We're both in our early twenties and are also looking for any recommendations for things to do in Catania!! Thanks for any help.
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Apr 21st, 2008, 10:13 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2004
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We have just returned from Sicily, having spent time in Catania, Caltagirone, and Aci Castello.

For Catania, look for a copy of Lapis, a free events listing that's published every two weeks.

While in Catania, we visited the Castello Ursino. I highly recommend it for the building itself and the Greek and Roman artifacts inside. Also, there was an art exhibit on the second floor that we enjoyed.

The fish market in Catania is fascinating. We thought there was some demonstration going on with all the shouting but it was the vendors promoting their fish. I had never seen so many different types and sizes of octopus and squid. Although it's called the Pesceria (fish market), it's much more than that. There must be as many fruit and vegetable stands as well as meat and poulty, cheeses, etc.

Make time to visit the churches. The Duomo is stunning on the outside and almost as impressive inside. Also, visit the church of San Francesco d'Assisi on Piazza San Frencesco to see one of the structures that's carried in the important Sant'Agata processions that are held in Catania. It has scenes of Sant'Agata's life , before she was martyred as a young girl.

I recommend visiting Syracuse, too, both for the wonderful old center of Ortigia - peninsula that juts out from Syracuse. The duomo is beautiful. It is built around a Greek temple, whose columns form part of the internal support. It's very walkable, has many excellent restaurants, and many other sights, too. In the mainland section of Syracuse, I recommend visiting the archeology museum and also the catacombs of the Basilica of San Giovanni, which is within easy walking distance from the archeology museum. Also nearby is the Greek theater but it is not as stunning as the one in Taormina.

The Catania city bus 534 runs between the center of Catania and Aci Trezza with two or more stops in Aci Castello. I stayed in Aci Castello for almost two weeks and love the town. It's about 5-6 miles north of Catania, right on the water (the Ionian Sea). The castle on the harbor is stunning. There are many cafes and restaurants and all sorts of food shops, including a great bread bakery on the main street, Via Re Martino. Besides bread and rolls, it has many types of cookies, including outstanding almond cookies, small pizzas, and many other treats.

I can highly recommend the Pizzeria Trattoria al Tubo with some tables overlooking the harbor: http://www.altubo.com/foto.htm. The food is excellent and very reasonably priced. They have an excellent buffet table of vegetables prepared in many different ways - grilled, marinated, etc., as well as marinated fresh sardines. There must have been at least four eggplant preparations, two types of zucchini, red peppers, spinach, mushrooms, etc. We also enjoyed an excellent asparagus and shrimp pasta dish with a tomato cream sauce and a grilled fish that we picked out. I think pizza is only available at night (as is often the case at many pizzerias). The bread was excellent, too.

If you are standing on the piazza in front of the castle with your back to the castle, go to the right onto Via G. Marconi. It's less than a 5-minute walk from the castle but is frequented mostly by locals, not the many tourists who come to see the castle.

The 534 bus runs about every half hour and costs about 1 euro. I didn't take the bus myself but saw it many, many times. In fact, I have a few pictures of it because on several occasions, the driver would have to beep his horn to get some driver out of a shop to move his car which was blocking the way. At one point, three of the local policeman came out of the police station to help find the driver. The traffic had backed up quickly.
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