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.
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.
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.
Department of Chemistry
The next stop was the Collegiata Church (College Church)
The Catania Cathedral was nearby in the main square.
The inside of the Cathedral was magnificent (I was very surprised that the men did not remove their caps while inside the Cathedral).
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.
The square contained an interesting fountain that I was unable to identify
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.
“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.
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).
Soon, we were back in the bus. The tour continued north from Catania along the coastline.
The coastline is essentially made up of lava flows from Mt. Etna
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 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.
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
as well as a Duomo (Cathedral) sporting an inordinate amount of statues – every available space is taken up by a statue.
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.
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.
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.
Deck Five also has another installation which is ingenious. Cages filled with a video frame of birds. Never need feeding and make no poop.
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