Our first evening in Catania, we head out early for an aperitivo. On our way, Jenn stops for an obligatory call home. Sitting near the harbor waiting for her, I occupy myself watching a group of old Italian men playing cards at a small table they’ve casually placed under an awning on the sidewalk. I notice their cars are parked in a similar fashion, haphazardly along the curb… facing east, facing west, blocking each other in. Picking up only half of what’s being said, I nod and smile along as they include me in their banter… cracking jokes about each other.
Soon Jenn has joined me again and we continue on our way. Via Etnea has transformed from the quiet, nearly deserted boulevard of the afternoon, it is now alive with Sicilians out for their evening passeggiata. Dinner is eaten closer to 8 or 9pm, so prior to the big meal, many people, families, couples, singles, head out for a casual stroll. Today is Sunday, so not only is it a social occasion, but it’s practically crowded! Joining in the ritual of passeggiata, we take our time enjoying the scene. A small crowd has formed around a band and we watch a few hippie college students get caught up in the music and use the small circle of people as a dance floor.
Popping down the side streets, we settle on a cozy pizzeria with a street view and plenty of outdoor seating. I’m usually a pasta fiend, but tonight… pizza is the ticket. The waiter brings our pizzas and we quickly realize we should have shared one, this is far too much for one person. This is also when I learn (or remember?) that peperoni in Italian means peppers, so I got red and green peppers instead. They are incredibly fresh and flavorful though, so I like it just fine! We watched the crowd while we enjoy our meal. Our young (very cute) waiter seems eager to please; popping back to the table frequently to ensure we don’t require anything. “Perhaps it’s his first few days on the job,” Jenn muses.
A ½ liter of wine later, we’re back out on the streets of Catania enjoying the warm night. Quite a charming welcome, Catania. I think we’re going to get along just fine.