On 1st of November I woke up really early at 3 am, almost night really, to catch an early flight to Catania. It was first day of my mid break holidays and I managed to take a day off and get away. Sometimes, I feel I am getting an island fever here, as you cannot simply go away without really leaving the island by plane or boat. It is not as simple as in continental Europe. So, an early start to the day as the flight was at 5.50 am but even though I did no have any luggage, I had to be early at the airport. The flight itself took barely 40 minutes with AirMalta and then I was first one to take the bus to the centre and around 7 am I was there. One thing which I did not think about was the fact that 1st November in Italy is the holiday and therefore some of the museums or shops are opened during the Sunday hours which was a shame. The 7 am Catania on a holiday day was a little bit grim. Nothing was opened yet and I was starving for a coffee and a snack, therefore I walked around for an hour to get myself orientated and waited patiently for some cafes to open up. My guidebook described Catania as a gritty city and I really like this expression and I think it describes the Catania in the morning perfectly. It also reminded me a bit of my hometown in the morning- bit grey, not very welcoming at start but when the sun shone, the mood there changed completely.
After finally finding an open cafe and having il cornetto al cioccolato and cappuccino and I ventured a bit more into the streets as it was still before 9 am so not many places were open.
When 9 am passed I went to visit Bellini museum. It is a very modest place-just 2 -3 small rooms in a house where composer Vincezo Bellini was born.
I was not so familiar with Bellini before I started my adventures as an opera accompanist and now I have to admit, I am a convert to his beautiful bel canto music.
After visiting museum I still had some time before 10 am hop on – hop off bus trip and I headed to the famous fish market which was in full swing. Mostly you could see guys buying the fresh produce for the restaurants. it was noisy, full of shouts of the fresh offer each stand had, plenty of water on the streets plus hungry cats waiting impatiently for something to end up under the stalls. Quite mesmerising I have to say. I stayed a little while to observe especially one guy who was cleaning the sea urchins.
After market, I settled in a hop off hop on bus towards the coast in order to see a bit of Acireale and Acci Trezza. A friend of mine advised me not to get off but just enjoy the ride and that is what I did.
Then finally it was time for the lunch and it was definitely the best part of the day;) My italian friend recommended trattoria Il Cavaliere and I have to say it was a superb choice. A local place, crowded already around 12.30 pm but I managed to get a table, even though inside. For the price of around 15-18 EUR , I do not remember exactly at the moment you can choose from meat or fish menu which consists of starter, first course, main course and dessert. I went for the fish option and it was amazing. The portions were big, even probably too much and the taste was great. Such a value for the money.
After lunch I basically just wandered around town. I wanted to visit one more musem which my Italian teacher recommended- Museo Storico dello Sbarco in Sicilia and I even walked there just to find out that due to holidays it was closed. So then I walked around some shops, unfortunately some of them were closed already, I enjoyed some small shopping in the craft market, bit of sweets in famous pastizzeria Savia, glass of wine in a small vinoteca and when it started to get dark which was around 5 pm I was thinking it is time to go to the airport. In the darkness and on my own I did not feel too confident in the town. Unfortunately my flight was later around 9pm but still I decided to rather wait at the airport. On the way to the airport bus, I stopped by a really cool small snack place in the area of the fish market where I tried different types of arancini with fish filling.
Then I waited a bit for the bus to the airport and there another 2 hours more or less before getting on the short flight to Malta. It was a good day and I enjoyed being somewhere else. The food was great, I manage to communicate in italian without troubles. Maybe there weren’t the most elaborate conversations but still. It was a bit of a disappointment that some places were closed but it is my fault I did not think about it before. I have to say that I would prefer if there would be an option of a flight back around 6-7 pm instead of 9.30 as the day was a bit too long and I was really knackered after being up from 3 am onwards. Nevertheless, if it would be just for the food, I would go there again;)