I lived in Catania for years and years, I know it inside out. I really love my family home with my garden and view on Mount Etna. Just one thing I didn’t like about it: it was too far away from the city centre (just a 10 min car ride, actually, but still too far to go on foot).
Photo courtesy of: “Catania” by Freebird_71 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
This is why, on our last visit to Sicily, we decided to rent a small apartment in the city centre for one night. That was the best choice ever, holiday wise.
It all started at a school friends reunion when I found out that Alessia, one of my friends, owned a small property in the heart of Catania and that she was renting the first floor to tourists. As Alessia’s surname is Palazzo (palace) and her husband’s is Miceli (no translation for this, it’s a surname), they decided to call the guest house Palazzo Miceli (Miceli Palace), what a great name!
We are lucky enough to be friends with Alessia and her husband Marco, so, on the night that we spent at Palazzo Miceli, we had a nice dinner in their lovely apartment. Eating homemade food in a terrace with a view on the tops of the most historical buildings, side by side to a real bell campanile sounding the hot summer hour, under the light of a giant moon is a priceless experience. I’ll always be grateful for that dinner quickly organised with organic vegs and meats produced by my friends’ families in their lands in the centre of Sicily.
What expected us downstairs, in the apartment we rented for the night, was exceptional too.
When we arrived in Via Consolato della Seta, we were overwhelmed by the tall grey and reddish buildings, typical architectural style of the less affluent people in the past centuries. I can’t know for sure, but some of those building must date back to the ‘700.
The inside of the building was a surprise: both quirky and traditional, gave us the feeling of spending a day in the Catania of 200 years ago, but with all of of the modern stylish facilities. A combination of elements overlapping so smoothly that felt just right.
Finally, my dream of living in the centre of Catania came true. From there, we had so much to reach on foot. Above all, probably my favourite place in Catania, the fish market.
That’s a market like no one, outside Sicily. We didn’t cook that time, but next time I’ll rent my friends’ apartment I’ll definitely get up early in the morning, walk down Via Garibaldi and buy all I need to prepare some traditional dish. Eaten in that lounge-kitchen, the meal would gain something that goes beyond taste. Probably the old frescos that my friends found on the ceiling during the renovation works, still emanate some aura from the people that once used to live there.
Being just a short walk to Piazza Duomo, where the Cathedral is, Palazzo Miceli would have been my ideal place to live. From there I could have reached my favourite Sicilan author Giovanni Verga’s museum house, Ursino Castle where some sort of art display is always on, Via Crociferi and its beautiful churches, the touristic bus, the Benedettini Monastery that I actually visited at night the day I stayed in the apartment, the long and packet with any type of shop Via Etnea, the Abbey of Saint Agata that can be visited inside and from which dome I saw the best skyline of the whole city.
At night, the area is packed with any type of food place. Some of the most famous are at the fish market itself. What I enjoyed the most, though, was getting up early in the morning, getting ready, going out and walking to the main square, piazza Duomo, where Lee and I had a very nice breakfast sitting on the outside tables of a coffee shop, meters away from the main Church’s step.
Everything is special for me, there. The contrast between the black of the lava rock and the light blue of the sky; the smell coming from the coffee shops mixed to the one of washing powder coming from the narrow side streets; the background sounds of splashing water and the long marketeers’ yells elevating above the people’s murmuring; the refreshing feeling of finding a bit of shade… it’s just my favourite place.
I hope that from my words you will get what it feels like to be in my hometown. Just take a plane and go there!