Monday, 11 June 2012

Catania

If not for Cesco, I doubt I would travel to Catania. Even though it is Sicily's second largest city, it really is quite out of the way. The largest landmark here is of course Mt Etna which had erupted and destroyed the city more than once.
In 1669 Catania was covered in lava and 24 years later in 1693 an earthquake shook the town down to its foundations. The entire old part of town was then rebuilt in Baroque style using lava, with large, wide open squares and avenues. Catania is essentially a “grey” city and unique in the world for this.
We went under the 17th Century arch of Porta Uzeda which leads to the main town square.
















 Cesco was at the ferry terminal waiting for us at 7.30am. It took him 2 hours to get there, which meant he caught the first bus at 5.30am. Yet he was waving vigorously when he spotted us! Being the typical Italian host, he insisted on treating us to the town's breakfast specialty at his favourite restaurant.
 We found it hard to imagine eating crushed ice for breakfast but when we tasted the smooth and milky almond granita topped with caffe on a warm morning, it all made sense. The brioche was the softest and fluffiest I had ever eaten. What a brilliant invention, to pair granita with brioche!
 An Italian breakfast isn't complete without a cup of thick, black espresso. It tasted like liquid gold.

The main town square Piazza Duomo was coming to life as we were enjoying our breakfast. The cathedral, museum and town hall all feature very impressive, imposing Baroque structure that incorporates Roman columns.
 Something else was happening that morning. A TV crew was filming for a popular TV series in Germany. There was a large entourage of artistes, crew, stylist etc.
 Naturally it attracted alot of attention. Cesco (in blue), being very inquisitive, spoke to producer and actor (with file) to find out what was happening.
For us, something else was beckoning - Catania’s colourful, bustling and odourous fish market just steps away. Getting to the market is like entering a different world, an atmosphere that has remained virtually unchanged for hundreds of years.
Overview of the market.
Fresh octopus.
Cesco showing May Ling the different kinds of snails.
Escargots.

Lots of people just milling around the marketplace.
Beautiful carrots.
Broccoli with the leaves intact.
Artichokes are so cheap here!
Antique weighing scale.
Fresh basil here are sold in pots.
Wild fennel.
Sea urchin.
More sea urchins!


Olives.

Salted sardines.

This fish monger was cutting up the weirdest fish we had ever seen. It had a huge mouth with spiky teeth and fins that looked like little feet.

Fresh loquats.
Garlic.
After touring the market, we waited for a bus to bring us to Ragusa.

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My Sinfonia said...

such thrill to be travelling with a local and staying at his place! That's my kind of travel...fabulous photos. I wish I am as disciplined as you.

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