09 May, 2016
How to define Catania? A city of a thousand faces, a thousand flavours, a thousands treasures. A city of the sea and of a volcano, port on the Ionian sea, and capital of Etna. A city of tradesmen, countryfolk and fishermen who have always lived in symbiosis with the water, the fire, the sea and the mountains. A city of a thousand hearts of a multiethnic culture, multicultural, multi-religious, home of Bellini, of Sicilian Baroque, and of street food. From the sea to the mountains, the endless fields of orange groves and vineyards of the Etna coast, the black cliffs of volcanic rock and the long stretches of white sand, the Roman ruins and the Baroque churches, the festival of Saint Agata, and the city centre markets, all this is Catania.
You probably already know the Baroque, the churches, the palaces, the streets, the balconies and the traditions that give life to the city centre. Instead, choose one of the many alternative experiences of Catania, unearthed by sicilying.com, the portal to the best experiences in Sicily. Here we have three suggestions for you.
Suggestion one:take a walk down the streets of the city centre with your nose in the air, to explore the city by the scents that invade it.
The food and culinary traditions found here are a treasure trove of many cultural influences: Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans, Normans and Arabs, Spanish and French, have all left their mark. Peasant cooking and aristocratic cuisine, rich and poor ingredients blend together to create authentic and intense flavours. Sophisticated restaurants are complemented by genuine traditional taverns, and alleyways are brought to life by the most extraordinary street food.
Catania is the home of "street" food. Entrusting yourselves to the best of specialized tour operators, you will be able to combine a Catania tour with the discovery of the best food and wine that the city can offer. You can visit the Sicilian Baroque in Piazza Duomo or Via Crociferi, cross the famous fish market ("la pescheria") and taste the "sangeli" (pig's blood) or "zuzzu" (meat jelly). In Piazza Stesicoro, with the Roman amphitheatre, you can stop in a traditional bar to sample the street foodpar excellence: the “arancino”, the “cartocciata”, the “cipollina”, and all the sweet and savory varieties of "walking" food. Or let yourself be guided by local chefs through the traditional markets of the centre, to then be put to work in preparing Sicilian cuisine yourself.
Suggestion two:immerse yourself in the green countryside of Catania, in search of the roots of the most famous Sicilian wines. Many wineries of Catania trace their origins back to the 1700s: their vineyards are located on lava rock 700 metres above sea level and are cultivated according to methods handed down from generation to generation. The typical micro-climate and the favourable characteristics of the volcanic soil allow the cultivation of a high quality grape.
Beyond the vineyards and you will find old “bagli” (isolated old buildings in the Sicilian countryside), Fourteenth Century monasteries, now “agriturismi” farm homestays. The wine tasting in a cellar on Mount Etna is a wonderful experience, giving you the chance to savour "on the land" some of the most famous products of this region - Nero d'Avola, Inzolia, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Etna DOC red and white – all washed down with typical cuisine tastings.
Suggestion three:after having eaten and tasted some wine, it's time to get out of the city and climb in mountain bike the “muntagna”, Mount Etna! Mount Etna, the mountain of fire, with a summit of 3,300 metres above sea level, the highest active volcano in Europe.
With its lunar landscapes at high altitude, and woods along the coast, the trails and unique landscapes, the typical products and the historical centres of the little towns, Etna is in every season a fascinating visit, for travellers and nature lovers, for lovers of food and wine, for lovers of outdoor sports in unique surroundings.
The lava flows have greatly influenced the land, making it extremely varied, rocks, lush vegetation and landscapes, are always in continuous change as the substrate moves over time, as temperatures, precipitation and exposure also vary at these altitudes.
Making an Etna tour by bike along the stunning trails (the “Pista Altomontana”) led by an expert guide, or try an Etna bike tourdescending from the volcano to the sea, either way it'll be an extraordinary experience that you will remember for years to come.
Would you rather see Sicily from a completely unique point of view, unusual and absolutely breathtaking? Then book a mongolfiera tour in an hot air balloon! The flight will give you the chance to live a totally extraordinary experience, giving you an unforgettable view of the whole of Sicily; on landing a glass of fine Etna wine will be waiting for you, along with some special typical local products, and you will be awarded a “flight baptism certificate” signed by the pilot.
Come on, don't just settle for the usual stay: Catania is a city to enjoy to the full!
09 May, 2016