Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012 – Catania, Sicily, Italy – Sunny - 93F

Distance from Naples to Catania: 225 Nautical Miles

Local Information:  Catania is the second largest population center on the island of Sicily with a population of 300,000.  It sits at the foot of Mt. Etna and has been destroyed and rebuilt many times following seismic disasters.  The local university was built in 1434. 

Slept like a rock – still trying to get acclimate. 

We are both on tour today to the same venues:  “Panoramic Catania and Coastline”.  My tour guide is Maurisio and he couldn’t be more Italian if he tried.  A very nice fellow.

Catania on tour (Small)

On our way

Although it is a scorcher today, the first part of the tour consists of a walking tour of the main square in Catania.  On our way there, we circle the ruins of the Roman Amphitheater.  This is the best picture I could get from a moving bus.

Catania Roman Amphitheater Ruins (Small)

Roman Amphitheater

The tour took us past the Old University Palace – which dates back to the 15th Century.  I checked for WiFi – after all, it is still a University – no joy.

University Palace (Small)

University Palace

Uniiversity Palace Chemistry bldg (Small)

Department of Chemistry

The next stop was the Collegiata Church (College Church)

Collegiata Church Catania (Small)

The Catania Cathedral was nearby in the main square. 

Catania  Cathedral (Small)

The inside of the Cathedral was magnificent (I was very surprised that the men did not remove their caps while inside the Cathedral).

Catania Cathedral (Small)

Cathedral Interior

The Cathedral is the burial place of Bellini – not the inventor of the Olive Garden Ice Tea or the more famous cocktail - but rather the Sicilian composer.

Grave of Composer Bellini Cathedral (Small)

The square contained an interesting fountain that I was unable to identify

Fountain in Catania (Small)

Probably the most significant object in the square is the symbol of the city - the Fontana Dell’Elefante – circa 1736 – an elephant constructed of lava stone and topped by an Egyptian obelisk.  Maurisio recounted a complex tale surrounding the elephant, which I could not fully understand except that the Elephant was flying and sort of crash landed, thereby breaking his legs.  You can see the damage on the legs of the Elephant. I couldn’t have made that up.

Fontana dell'Elefante - 1736 (Small)

“Dumbo”- the Flying Elephant of Catania

Following the visit to the square, we were given about a hour of free time to shop.  I met up with Ellen and we were off to explore the streets around the central square.  Just off the square is the Market and the Fish Market.

Catania Market (Small)

E at the fish market Catania (Small)

E at Catania Fishmarket (Small)

Market and Fish Market

An unpleasant situation:  90 plus degrees and fish.  I can almost see the bugs growing on the fish and meat hanging in the market.  Didn’t see too much ice there for keeping things fresh.

During our walk, we did get a nice view of the Cathedral (which served as our landmark for finding the bus).

Catania and Cathedral 2 (Small)

Soon, we were back in the bus. The tour continued north from Catania along the coastline. 

Ionian Sea and Lava flow (Small)

Ionian Coastline

The coastline is essentially made up of lava flows from Mt. Etna

Lava Flow at Ionian Sea (Small)

There isn’t a lot of sand for beaches, so the beach areas have built decks for the sunbathers – an ingenious idea.

Ionian Sea beach crowd (Small)

Ionian Sea Beach Decks

Our destination was the Aci Castello or Norman Castle.  The structure, apparently carved out of lava from Mt. Etna, is now a beach area.  The structure is still quite a sight.

Norman Castle (Small)

Norman Castle 2 (Small)

Norman Castle A (Small)

Norman Castle

Even though we had seen a lot of Baroque architecture in Catania, our final stop (a ride through since busses cannot stop) was the village of Acireale.  The village has an interesting church

Areciale Church (Small)

as well as a Duomo (Cathedral) sporting an inordinate amount of statues – every available space is taken up by a statue.

Areciale Duomo w statues (Small)

Duomo of Acireale – Many statues

Although there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, Mt. Etna was putting on a bit of a show spewing water vapor and smoke into the air.  I tried in vain to take a picture of the volcano on the way home.  However, back on the ship, I captured the volcano doing its thing.

Carania and Mt Etna (Small)

Catania and Mt Etna 1 (Small)

Mt. Etna reminding us of its power

Tonight is formal night and we are all decked out in our fineries minus a jacket, which I pick up at the M D’s station and drape over the back of my chair.  In a few minutes, one of the wait staff picks up the jacket for use by the next person.  A good system.

Dinner Formal Night 1 (Small)

Dinner Formal Night 1 A (Small) E Formal Night 1 (Small)

Formal Night in the Grand Cuvee Restaurant

After dinner, we checked out more of the ship.  On this ship, the Foyer of the Ensemble Lounge has apple trees and apples instead of day-glo bugs.  It was all done by hand by an artist.

E entrance to Emsellble Lounge (Small)    

Deck Five also has another installation which is ingenious.  Cages filled with a video frame of birds.  Never need feeding and make no poop.

      Electrobic bird Deck 5 (Small)                  

Showtime tonight features the first Production Show: “Broadway Nights”.  We have seen this show on other ships but here the set has been changed and some of the numbers modified – some new songs have also been added.  The four singers and the dancers are uniformly terrific.  The show was great with the only issue being a wardrobe malfunction with one of the female dancers.  To her credit she finished her number while her dress continued to come undone.  A real trooper.

Pedometer: 5827 steps;  2.76 miles;  285 calories

No comments:

Post a Comment