I still remember the first sight. The plane swerved over the sea through the sky and there below me was the sudden magical tableau of life in Catania. It looked big, and mostly busy. It was orange and yellow, so compact, so exciting and so Sicilian. I was smitten.
Eli, my host was very friendly and spoke good English and made sure everything was pleasant. She explained to me that she worked as a food scientist and has a passion for fitboxing. Her family lived just around the corner from her in Catania. She drove us home safely as Sicilians drive as though they are in an arcade game. It is not unusual to see unexpected cars zipping in front of you to from either direction to overtake. I was genuinely astonished.
Day 1 and 2 were spent with Eli and Franchessco.
We spent our days at the beach in Giardini Naxos, at Franchesco’s mothers traditional Sicilian home in the beautiful town of Nicolosi eating ice cream and granitas.
Catania in a day
Eli dropped me off at Via Etena and pointed for me to walk one way. Down, down, down. My favourite direction to walk. I was excited.
In a not very long time I arrived at Piazza del Duomo di Catania around 9:30a and it was getting busy with tourists and locals. I left my map of the city indoors so from herein my journey has all been a big improvisation.
Piazza del Duomo di Catania was nice, big however nothing special. I’ve seen hundreds of different plazas/squares/piazzas in my life so unfortunately I’m all Piazza’s up. I saw a group of Chinese tourists walking towards a passageway and I followed.
Welcome to the fish market.
Eli had told me about this place, she said it’s a must see.
Catania Fish Market
What’s a vegan doing in a fish market?
At first I was walking around, looking at all the fish for sale. Many of which I’d never seen before. Some long some short, some fat some thin. Some with 8 legs. It’s a marvellous atmosphere. But watch your step, you could easily slip.
Finally I found a place to buy my second breakfast.
What’s a vegan eating at a fish market?
There is a park outside the fish market where I sat on a bench and ate my food. It was so delicious! Though I took it easy on the olives because salt isn’t my thing.
Look at this place I found while walking, lost in private thought along Viale Africa towards Piazza Europa
I made my way down by jumping the fence and climbing down the stones. What a find! I ended up staying here for 4hours, jumping in the water and swimming than chilling. It was just me, an old Italian man and a German painter.
The way back to Eli’s house was complex. My phone battery died so I had no way to ask her for directions. I’d finally had enough of aimlessly walking around sub-urban Catania so I walked into a shop and asked the shopkeeper to call a taxi for me. Despite the language barrier it was done, and I was back at Eli’s house in no time.
Our last meal was great, I cooked my usual; chick peas and veg stir fry and we sat talking until both of us were tired and I had to leave early for my next destination in Sicily: Agrigento.
It’s quite rare that I meet somebody that inspires me (see previous post).
I fell for Eli as soon as we met because her energy is beautiful. Eli lives in fearlessness which is hard to obtain, she lives for the now and celebrates each day with an upbeat attitude.
A big bonus is that she is an excellent chef. Suffering from being a vegan in Italy it was beginning to concern me. I couldn’t taste their favourite meals and flavours because they all contain some form of animal. But Eli found a way for me to enjoy risotto, pasta and cakes. And it was delicious. On the first day she made a tasty pasta with a spinach savoury cake and on the second day she made mushroom risotto and a mushroom savoury cake. All vegan.