Tour of the Acis, Dinner and Tour of Catania

Catania Travel Blog

 › entry 13 of 15 › view all entries
Dad, Mom, Mags and Eric at the delicious enoteca - a lucky find
Wednesday, 10/7/09

The day started out lazily, eating leftover pastries at the villa, drinking coffee, getting laundry done. Eric and Melissa were hanging out at the pool, Mom, Dad and Roberta went to Agrigento for the day. Liz, Mags and I were getting antsy, and hungry, and we convinced Eric and Mel to join us - we were just going to get in the car and find a local place to try. We first tried to drive to Aci Castello - one of the Aci towns on the water we hadn't seen yet - but couldn't find the damn town and everyone was getting hungry. We followed signs to a group of agriturismo restaurants (they are like B&Bs on working farms, but they also have restaurants for the general public), and we rang the bell on the one people said was good, but they said they were closed for lunch.
Eric, Mel, Roberta and Liz
We followed another sign to a restaurant in a camping area on the sea, and THEY were closed for the season...an old guy standing by the gate there told us to drive to a community 5 minutes away and said we'd find good food there. We only found 2 restaurants there - one was a closed pizza joint, and the other was a closed fish restaurant. This was getting ridiculous.

After driving for an HOUR AND A HALF, and we were heading back to Aci Sant'Antonio, we passed a small bar/cafe/gelateria, so we stopped there as a last resort. They had pastries, cookies, and a few pizza-looking things, so I asked if they had an arancini (the Sicilian risotto balls with cheese inside, and they're coated and fried, and delicious), and they did, so we bought a bunch of those plus some other savory pastries, including a mushroom one for Melissa, who doesn't eat meat.
Ceiling of the Catania Opera House
We finally started eating and I asked for a bite of Melissa's mushroom pastry, and I took a bite and realized there was prosciutto in it. This became a running joke throughout her stay in Sicily. Every time something looked vegetarian, or didn't have any meat listed as an ingredient - like a cheese and veggie platter in Taormina - the plate would arrive with meat on it, and the waiters would just tell her to push it to the side. They REALLY don't get vegetarianism here.

So poor Melissa had to make do with a gelato for lunch. Eric and I split a granita, and we gave up and went back to the villa. I had been texting with cousin Lino so we could all meet him in Catania for dinner.
Another opera house ceiling detail
I was hoping Mariolina could come too since I hadn't had much time to really talk to her, but he said she had a doctor’s appointment with Elvira, and she’d be back after 8, when we were supposed to meet. He later texted and said he couldn't do dinner, but he'd meet us at 9 to take us for a tour of the city.

We left the house a bit late, and took both cars. It was my turn to drive again - at night in a city with Dad following me - ugh, I hate driving in the cities. I did fine until I had one really tight street to go down with parked cars on either side - I just knew I'd scrape both of them, and all the cars were already lining up behind, and I just couldn't bear to have them honking at me as I tried to negotiate it, so Mags and I did a Chinese Fire Drill, we pulled the side mirrors in, and she handily eased it through.
Looking out from the opera house onto the piazza where about a million university students seem to hang out
She says she likes the narrow streets, God love her. Parking, of course, is another issue. Luckily, there was an amazing Enoteca directly across from our parking spot. We met up with the other carload of Mom, Dad and Roberta at the elephant statue in front of the Duomo and brought them to the restaurant. Gorgeous place - looked like a manor house with several rooms, and excellent food and service. We texted Lino we’d meet him later for our of Catania with Lino by night.

Lino texted back that it was now too late - Elvy had to go to school the next day, so we’d have to do it another day. I texted back ( texting was much easier than trying to understand on the phone - but at 50 cents a text, my bill is going to be exhorbitant) and told him that this was the only night we had left for Catania since we had a few other places to go and we were leaving in a few days, so he said he’d be right there.
This street was all dressed up and lit for some red carpet grand opening.


He met us at the elephant statue after dinner, and really gave us the extended walking tour. Melissa and I were in heels and my feet were starting to kill me. Mel seemed fine - at least she wasn’t complaining - or limping, like I started to. Mom’s feet were killing her too - but Lino kept saying there was some amazing Baroque architecture around the next corner that we just had to see. He did show us more things than the first night I arrived, taking us not only to the Duomo, the Piazza dell'Università, the underground Greek Amphitheatre that's half underneath the Baroque church, but also to the Opera House and several other churches. And of course, we got gelato, like we pretty much do almost every day. I’m going to weigh a ton when I leave here.

Finally, we made arrangements with him to lead us to Gagliano.
The Catania Opera House
There was a mix-up because the aunts and everyone kept saying “We’ll see you Thursday,” when we saw them on Sunday, so we planned Gagliano for Thursday, but then Lino said Thursday was impossible - I think because a lot of the family was working, but all of them could get off work Friday afternoon. We agreed to meet Friday at 12:30 at his/Mariolina’s apt. in Tremestiere Etneo and go from there rather than meet at the gas station he strongly suggesting...I just didn’t want to miss out because of miscommunication and be standing at the wrong gas station and have the whole plan go to hell...we were on a time crunch at this point ...the vacation was winding down, and we wouldn’t have any more time if we missed Gagliano on Friday, since we left Sicily on Saturday.
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Dad, Mom, Mags and Eric at the del…
Dad, Mom, Mags and Eric at the de…
Eric, Mel, Roberta and Liz
Eric, Mel, Roberta and Liz
Ceiling of the Catania Opera House
Ceiling of the Catania Opera House
Another opera house ceiling detail
Another opera house ceiling detail
Looking out from the opera house o…
Looking out from the opera house …
This street was all dressed up and…
This street was all dressed up an…
The Catania Opera House
The Catania Opera House
Mel looking please, as the rest po…
Mel looking please, as the rest p…
Statue of Bellini - he lived and w…
Statue of Bellini - he lived and …
The Greek Amphitheatre beneath the…
The Greek Amphitheatre beneath th…
Love the 2-tone buildings:  accord…
Love the 2-tone buildings: accor…
No idea what this is, but it was o…
No idea what this is, but it was …
Mel & Liz
Mel & Liz
Catania
photo by: Traveling_Brian