One of my favourite Sicilian tours takes in the region of Eastern Sicily, the rich lands surrounding the famous Mount Etna, the provinces of Catania, Syracusa and Ragusa, the towns of chocolate-loving Modica and the island of Ortigia and the alluring Aeolian Islands. We welcome you to charming, lively Catania which is, after Palermo, the second-largest city in Sicily.
A tour of Catania, the province
We enter into Sicily’s age-old history, rich in unique archaeological sites and monuments, ear-marked in Catania by the Porta Garibaldi – Ferdinandea. Enjoy wandering the streets of the surrounding historic towns that showcase timeless crafts such as hand-painted ceramics; regional artisan products showcasing the creative talent and specialized skills and techniques of local artists, and spending evenings dining with newfound friends and locals. Climb the Santa Maria Del Monte staircase in Caltagirone, dine on classic marinated octopus, hand-made ravioli in a classic restaurant on the Piazza del Dumome in Acireale. Wander through the iconic food markets of these areas, enjoying spectacular arrays of vibrant colours of spices, seasonal fruit, and vegetables. Sicilians, who love food and wine, display their local produce respectfully as if they were works of art instead of mere vegetables for sale.
La Pescheria Markets in Catania
The market of all food markets is La Pescheria located in the historic center of Catania behind Piazza del Duomo and the famous Baroque Amenano Fountain. The atmosphere has remained virtually unchanged for hundreds of years inside the thick stone walls, where the stone steps are worn smooth from people walking on them since the 1800s. The market floor is wet from the hoses, filling the containers, cleaning the fish, the ice melting; it is alive with rhythm of the fishmongers shouting their calls, vying for attention; the regulars haggling with the fishmongers; the slow snake-like movement of tourists wandering through the aisles marveling at the pink of the baby prawns, the silvery-black fresh anchovies, usually only seen packed into tins. There is a mesmerizing chaotic uniformity of the ebb and flow that others just come to observe, leaning on the railings at the top of the stairs; layers of people watching people, watching other people.
Move on from the colourful behaviour of the local fishermen to the butchers, cheesemongers and farmers selling their fresh, wonderful meats and sausages, fruits and vegetables. It is where the locals come to do their daily shopping. Wander out through one exit and refresh with a hand-made lemonade drink or through the opposite exit and sit in the palazzo and drink espresso and chill on granita.
Catania’s Cultural Landmarks
Catania overlooks the rooftops of the late Sicilian Baroque style buildings like the stunning Cathedral with its statue of the city’s patron saint, Sant’ Agata, and houses and protects precious religious treasures. In the Piazza Duomo, where the heart of Catania beats, is the Fontana dell’Elefante; the fountain with the curious mix of an elephant and Egyptian obelisk. This monument is a lava-stone statue that dates back to the Roman era. It is mounted on a more modern structure by Vaccarini from the eighteenth century. The legend goes that the elephant became the city’s symbol because in ancient times the pigmy elephants that lived in this place, protected the city’s inhabitants by chasing away fierce animals.
Travel to Catania
Come to Catania and Sicily with Dom! Click here for Doinique Rizzo’s tours to this amazing part of the world.
Bookings for the last two available places on the 2020 Italian tours close at the end of March 20!