We slept in after our long day on Etna… despite spending a mellow night indoors with roommates… watching soccer, playing guitar, and consuming pizza and wine. Writing this, I realize it sounds like a normal night back home! Today we plan to visit La Pescheria (The Fish Market) near the harbor and partake in some rare shopping along Via Etnea. Packing light often means I have no room in my luggage for anything more than small souvenirs for family and small treats for myself like jewelry or scarves… though I always manage to grab a book or two.
Wandering up the large, colorful Pescheria market, we pass through small streets lined with bright fruit stands, spice bins, warmed nuts and delicious stacks of cheeses! There is fresh fish hanging and butchers with loads of salamis and ham shouting genially. We snack our way through the market, tasting and purchasing a small array of goods for a picnic lunch. On our way out with strawberries, pecans, hazelnuts, salami and cheese in hand, Jenn pops into another stand for a red pepper and some mini-tomatoes. We carry our picnic along as we tromp up Via Etnea. Unable to resist the gelato spot we found the first day, soon we’re people watching and “awwww’ing” over an adorable little boy dressed like a small man with slacks, vest and hat.
We take our time window shopping and pop in and out of cute shops. I finally find some shoes to replace those that went out in a blaze of glory on Etna, barely able to resisting a great pair of heels in the process. We wrap up our shopping with a new pair of sunglasses and a cute, blue scarf for Jenn… sadly passing on oh, so many things I want.
Aimless wandering, brings us back to Piazza Stesicoro with the Bernini Statue. Here we find another market and make our way through endless rows of clothing to finally find the food stands. This historic city market is huge… even larger than La Pescheria. Soon we’re adding sun-dried tomatoes to our collection of snacks and eventually find our way out of the market and back to the hostel where we share our collection with a new couple that has checked in. I much prefer food markets to grocery store shopping!
In the early evening, after another small trip out where we return with Modica chocolate bars to enjoy and bring back home for friends and family. Modica is a Sicilian town we wanted to visit that produces amazing chocolate using a 400 year old tradition of chocolate making based on Aztec methods and using natural flavors, including peppers, vanilla, and cinnamon. If anybody has been, please let me know how you liked Modica!
David has also returned from his day trip to Taormina and we compare stories of the town for him to add to his guidebook. Since it is our last night in Catania, he insists on taking us out to dinner. The three of us head out, finding a wonderful, small family restaurant serving fresh, homemade pasta. We meet the chef, a small italian grandmother that chats with us about her family and her food. The menu is full, but we learn that there are select choices each night… whatever she’s chosen to prepare that day, since the prep takes time. I opt for Spaghetti al’ arribiata, Jenn for an amazing carbonara (that wins carbonara back over for me after a very unpleasing version in Pompeii) and David orders veal. Enjoying a Sicilian cheese plate, a fried pastry that’s a lot like churros, and wine, wine, and more wine, we finally wrap up our meal and head to a bar.
Another bar with people spilling out (which I’m really loving about Sicilian night life.. it’s like a block party every night!) The entire street is full. Inside, I flash back in time to the American 1950’s… the décor… the music. We even find ourselves doing the twist! The theme of the night becomes “Where are we… and WHEN are we?”
It’s a great night and I meet some great new people and learn loads about the region. The next morning, we take our dry clothes off the line outside, pack and we’re soon on the bus to Syracuse… our last stop in Sicily before heading to Italy’s mainland. Time goes by so fast.
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