We parked our mother-ship in Catania for exploring the area and spent half a day in the city too. Though built in black lava stones, every inch of it is way too colourful to catch in words or pictures…

Instead of going on a long rant, you get a ‘five things not to miss in Catania’ version.

 1. Always take the Cannoli, this applies in the entire Sicily. These ricotta cheese sweetness combined with various flavours makes you think of all good things in life. And if you are wondering about the people who say “Leave the gun, take the cannoli”, tourists in Sicily are pretty safe. In fact we got to know that a lot of hotel, resort businesses are owned by the mafioso (barring the international chains hopefully) and they love tourists. And as the il Padrino wisdom goes, when in doubt, always choose the Cannoli over a gun.

2. The streets have names like via Coppola and houses are called Villa Bellini, a movie buff risks the chance of dying of reference overdose. No matter which part of the world you are from, your name will sound Sicilian the moment a local shouts it and you would love it. (At most restaurant waiting lists, the host would go, Paalaaaane for Kumar Palan.)

3.Yummy Arancinos. These are vegetarian snacks with some rice added to it and you could gorge on all day long if you could locate an authentic place to get them. Well, most of my to-dos include food, but once you are out to gushing over the landscape, architecture, people, their clothes, language and even window-shopped at via Etna, there is bound to be a lot of eating involved through it all.

4. They don’t call Catania ‘the black pearl of the Ionian sea’ for nothing. The city has been repeatedly destroyed by the lava of Mt. Etna. But having an active volcano only makes it more vulnerably beautiful. Duomo, the black elephant, Teatro Massimo are all in walking distance of Piazza del Duomo.

5. They’ve a cute little toy tourist train going around the town, it was totally worth taking the round of most sights of Catania as a couple of ten-year-olds.

For a town stuck between a volcano and the sea, it is a bit washed out in parts, and doesn’t have the grandeur of the northern Italy, but it does call for spending a few hours to get the taste of this granite beauty.

Coming up: Taormina, Savoca, Forza D’Agro and Siracusa.

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