Getting into Catania was a breeze and we were at Claudiaâ€™s (City Lounge) within a short time of driving into Catania. Rob blocked the driveway to the courtyard while I went up and got the keys from Claudia. It was good to see her. She showed me the room we were staying in and then I rushed to help Rob with the bags. We had amassed many treasures from our Sicilian journey, so far. I introduced Claudia to Rob and we put the bags in the room. A brief bathroom stop and we were back in the car and on the way to the airport to return it.
This all sounds like just way too much going on, doesnâ€™t it!
Anyway, now it was rush hour, of course, so we were in a terrible line of traffic to get around one roundabout.
It took us 15 minutes to traverse it, crazy. After that it was a quick shot to the airport. We found the rental return easily. The rental agent checking the car was telling us that the car wasnâ€™t Easy Car. We had this banter back and forth until he saw the Easy Car logo on the key chain. The agent then checked the car quickly and said it was good and wrote that on our contract. We raced back to the arrivals terminal to buy a bus ticket and waited in line for the bus back to the city to arrive. Within 10 minutes the bus was there. The crowd of people and their piles of luggage all get onboard. The bus is crammed full of people. For some reason, we sat there for 10 minutes with the doors closed and the windows up â€¦â€¦just sitting there. We leave, finally. As we drive into town, we keep adding people at each stop. I donâ€™t know how they fit. We get out at the stop near Piazza Duomo. It feels good to be out in the fresh air.
We approach the side of the Duomo (Cathedral of Santâ€™ Agata which began in 1078) and I notice something different.
The church across the street ( the Badia ) had been covered in scaffolding, when I was here in June. Now with the faĂ§ade exposed, I could see how special this Baroque jewel really was. It has the most interesting metal grates with detailed wooden designed atop them, something new for me. Sharing the piazza is the Palazzo dei Chierici, the Elephant Fountian, and the Badia di Santâ€™ Agata.
As I was taking a few pictures, I noticed that a bit of blue sky was peeking through. I wished for it to try a bit harder.
We entered the Duomo, across the street. It is such a grand Baroque church in every sense of the word. The scale of the space and its art is grand. The columns details are grand. The altar, the chandeliers, the marble, all was exceptionally grand.
In two areas of the church there has been excavation showing some of the previous building levels to Roman times. Much more can be seen in the crypt below the church. Some of the great detail of the frames around the art, I had to capture as it was so elaborate.
The chapel to the right of the altar is so magnificent. It has an amazing collection of different religious items to create a rich, almost museum like setting. There are carvings of marble and of wood, great frescoed walls and ceiling, and a separate silver altar with an eastern flair.
The chapel to the left of the altar is simplistic in comparison. It showcases a minimalist medieval design with elements of that time period in its history on display. There is a great frescoed column that is just magical.
On the left side there is still a section of the original fresco on the wall. Itâ€™s faint but you can make it out.
In a side room there is a great painting of Catainia from 1669. Itâ€™s a fine piece of art. The room, probably was the treasury, was filled with great woodwork, wall to wall. It even has its own altar.
We walked out the front and into the piazza for some great shots of the Duomo. A peek of blue showing through, again, I took many shots as this faĂ§ade is rich with dramatic details.
From a distance, now, I can get the dome of the Badia di Santâ€™ Agata photographed. Now that itâ€™s clean, the Duomo looks so dirty. It needs some tlc, now.
We walked around the piazza taking some great shots; the gate, the elephant atop the obelisk, and all of the other great buildings of the piazza.
Now, continuing down the pedestrian way (Via Etna) we first stop at the piazza with the college and the gym, impressive for a gym. In the center of the piazza there is the elephant design in the stones. We stopped to admire the more artwork on the side of a beautiful pink building with a statue that has the two headed eagle crest of the Austrian Hapsburg Dynasty that ruled Sicily from 1720-1734.
Next we get to my favorite church in Catania, the Collegiatta. It was built in 1768 and is a great example of Sicilian Baroque and has elements and thatâ€™s scale are more intimate and regal. The colors are fantastic; beige stone with green trim and copper accents, divine. There was a wedding going on so, a visit another day.
There was an old Rolls Royce bustle back convertible in front which made for a special photo.
The next street over I noticed a little church hiding mid block blending in. I had to take a look. It may seem plain in comparison to others but, the love is there, details abound. I show my appreciation, I photograph it.
In this part of town, the details abound on every corner. Even the building with the Puma store in it is a work of art.
Itâ€™s time for dinner and weâ€™ve had a hard day of exploring and braving the elements. Just down the street from Collegiatta, we notice a little risterante and took a look.