Scenario Siciliano: A Quick Canter in Catania

I am a finalist for the 2018 Millésima Wine Blog Awards! Please go HERE and vote for me so that I might win a trip to Bordeaux!

I think I have mentioned here a few times that I have a love-hate relationship with travel: I hate the process of moving my carcass from one place to another (unless it is on a bicycle), but I love waking up in a strange bed.

That did not exactly come out right.

What I love about travel is actually being in a different location (this has nothing to do with Houston per se—I have always loved exploring other locales, be it foreign or domestic), but the effort required to get there is often less than desirable.

Such was the case this past Fall as I travelled to Sicily.

My flight from Houston Intercontinental Airport (I still refuse to call it by its other name) left shortly after 4 in the afternoon, headed for Munich on Lufthansa. While I am not overly fond of German airports (even though I studied the language in college, spoken German always seems so harsh and rigid, particularly after an overnight flight), I am a fan of Lufthansa, particularly their Economy Plus section is pretty close to luxurious, particularly when compared to their partner, United.

After a rather uneventful flight (which included several glasses of Drappier Champagne), I had to muscle my way quickly through the airport to catch my connecting flight to Catania, on the island of Sicily.

Growing up, I my concept of “Sicily,” largely shaped by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, was that of a beautiful but dangerous island that was the source of many a crime boss both real and fictional.

While I certainly did not go looking for the dangerous, I found plenty of the beautiful.

We were scheduled to only spend one night in Catania, Sicily’s second largest city (after Palermo). I will admit that I had never heard of the town, but I was determined to walk the city a bit before our scheduled 10 a.m. departure.

I am glad I did.

We stayed at the Il Principe Hotel in the center of Catania. Highly recommended.

At the center of town, not far from our hotel, was the Piazza del Duomo, a UNESCO world heritage site. While the morning lighting was not ideal, the cathedral was impressive.

Outside the Duomo, there were dozens of statues among the palm trees.

I am far from religious, but it is difficult not to feel a divine influence when walking the grounds around the Cathedral.

Not far from the Piazza del Duomo is La Pescheria, Catania’s daily fish market. It was just ending when I stumbled upon it, but there was plenty of time to snap a few photos.

Although my time wandering La Pescheria was brief, I was able to encounter many a boisterous fisherman peddling his catch.

I use the fact that I grew up in the Midwest as an excuse as to why I can not name many types of fish. If the subject were cows, however….

Their work done, at least for the moment, the venders gathered to take part in that most treasured of past times, making fun of the tourists (at least that is what I imagined they were doing).

Despite the name, Il Pescheria is not limited to seafood. Given my background, I was of course fascinated with the butcher.

Leaving the fish market, I decided to wander a bit. I am not sure why this man was waiting, but given the choice, I would wait under a palm tree as well.

My wandering took me to the Benedictine monastery of San Niccolò.

There was a conference at the monastery, which enabled me to slip into the courtyard and its magnificent gazebo.

My time nearly up (Rule #1 on a press trip: Don’t Be Late), I meandered back to the hotel. I had left just enough time for a few photos, though, this being part of the University of Catania (I think).

I am not entirely sure what this is, but I was struck by the supports for the balcony.

My last photo in Catania, a statue of Cardinale Dusmet who was archbishop of Catania in the mid-19th Century.

Yes, sadly, we left Catania. I felt that there was so much more to explore, but we were off to Mount Etna and our first of many winery visits.

More to come….

About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Italian Wine, Sicily, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Scenario Siciliano: A Quick Canter in Catania

  1. Sad you did not mention your fabulous travel companions!


  2. Manu Stanley says:

    Voted for you. All the very best! 🙂


  3. The Winesmacker says:

    Done! (the voting I mean) You seem to be lagging behind….
    The Siculorum Gymnasium is the gymnasium (university now) of the Siculi, one of the original tribes that gave their name to Sicily.


  4. Pingback: Wine Blog Daily Thursday 1/18/18 | Edible Arts

  5. Voted for you man!!. Good luck


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