Driving in the little blue Fiat for about two hours with a healing sunburn was rough. We left Argrigento and the Turkish Steps two hours ago. It was dusk when we started to enter this vibrant city. It is a university town, there is an old monastery that was converted into the University of Catania. The city is close to the water, which made the air smell of constant sea salt and oceanic life. The buildings are mostly stone, brick, and stucco painted over with a variety of colors that matched the beautiful sunset before us.
We arrived at our Airbnb for the night and settled in before going out to explore. Our place was right by a little outdoor restaurant. Trying to save money from the past few days allotted us to splurge a bit and treat ourselves to a exquisite meal. We ordered some white wine this time, we had been drinking red for the most part, and to start we shared a pair of oysters. It was my first experience with oysters and I didn’t know what to expect. I was hesitant to even try them, but I figured why not and after a bit of convincing from Sam, there I was fork to mouth with a piece of the slimy looking substance. I took a swift inhale and took the bite… It was not what I expected, a calm taste with a bit of bitterness from the fresh lemon juice on top. It was not the worst, yet I only took a few more bites. I ordered a pasta dish, with linguine noodles, seared eggplant, and an assortment of vegetables. It had a light sprinkling of cheese on top and tossed in a white wine sauce. It was probably my favorite meal throughout the trip.
After dinner we walked around the city, taking in the brilliant architecture, beautifully lit streets, and listening to small music ensembles on several corners. After wandering for a bit we found this outdoor bar playing music and serving up some deliciously, devilish drinks. We sat down and let the night whisk us away. We met some other travelers from London and we had the best time exchanging travel stories and suggestions. They gave us some tips for Naples and Capri and we gave them ours for the Turkish Steps and Palermo. We spent the night exchanging stories and practically shut down the square.
We woke up the next morning, the first day I could actually bare to wear nicer clothes other than a loose t-shirt that I had been coveting for my burnt back. We started off our day as usual, making coffee and some hard boiled eggs, I have never seen someone eat so many, Sam eats six eggs every morning. We set off to explore the city. We visited a castle and took a tour around the grounds. It was a gorgeous structure with high barrel vaulted ceilings, and detailed ornamentation throughout. There were also several famous art pieces including one of my favorite painters, Caravaggio. There were maps, old instruments, more paintings, sculptures, and hidden passage ways revealed. It was a fun stop and very insightful to the history in Catania. From the castle we went to the university, which used to be a monastery. The library was filled from floor to ceiling with thousands of books and students sauntered around the beautiful courtyard in the middle of the main building. It was classic Romanesque architecture and I took it all in.
For lunch we stopped at an outdoor market and picked up some fruit and sandwiches. It was almost time to head back to Palermo to go to Naples. We lingered by the water and took in the scenic coast line. I say I want to move to just about any place I visit, yet Catania has this untouchable sense to it that no matter who you are you can come and go as you please and be welcomed to stay as long as you wish.