Friday started off right where Thursday left off. It was raining and pouring, but no one was snoring. Planning to take the 8 a.m. bus out of Palermo and to Catania, we woke up early enough to do that.
A quick morning walk to the station got us there with about 5 minutes to spare. I swear bad luck follows my friend Hannah around. Of all the seats on the bus that she could have chosen, she chose the one that was leaking water right on to her arm. I felt so bad for her and she eventually moved to another seat on the SAIS bus.
Arriving in Catania proved to be much more eventful than we planned. It took us about an hour to get to our hostel because it was on the other side of town and we didn’t have a city map. I continued to practice my Italian by asking for directions and historic locations around town.
We saw the piazza where the Duomo stands and where the infamous elephant fountain is. We took advantage of the sun and took in the atmosphere. I have seen so many Duomi that I actually don’t know how many more I can see before I start appreciating them less.
I had a chance to light a candle in my grandfather’s name at one of the churches in Catania. I have gotten in the habit of doing this in every city I stop in. From Siena, Rome, Venice, Florence, Orvieto, Paris, Palermo to Catania.
I light the candle and have a brief conversation with Pa about my trip and what I’ve been doing lately. Sometimes I laugh and sometimes I cry. I do this because he never got to come back to Sicily before be passed away. I also never got to tell him I was going. But the point is that I want him to see what I see, feel what I feel, hear what I hear, eat what I eat and smell what I smell. Italy way of bringing him here to experience the city as I do.
I have become very impressed by my own growth with the language and even more confident over the last couple of weeks. I also picked up on some new words, or dialect as it is appropriately called. Qua means ‘here’ and vani means ‘rooms.’ Ha posta translates to something close to ‘its fair or its good.’ At the Sam time I noticed that you can literally amend almost any Italian word with the suffix, -eria and sell that type of good there. For example, “birraeria” or “orologeria.”
We settled into our nice hostel and strategized our next move. I had a long, twenty minute conversation with one of the Italians that works at the hostel. He also speaks English but I elected to speak Italian with him to test my skills, make him feel more comfortable and also to show him that I was making an honest effort. He noted that and told me I spoke the language well. I was proud of that.
At the Asian kebab stand, I taught another man to use his canon camera as if he was shooting on manual. He saw me with my camera as I ordered and asked me if I shoot on manual and if I could help him.
I believe information is free and so I happy helped him mostly because I love talking about cameras and photography! We spoke in English and Italian. It wasn’t the prettiest conversation but I ate my kebab with the satisfaction that I was able to offer one of the locales information of my own for once.
The rest of the day consisted of the usual. We sought landmarks, admired them and the photographed them. It rained quite a bit today as well but my shoes stayed dry for once. Its worth noting that I just bought brand new Sergio Tacchino shoes that can actually repel water.
Porta Vecchio stood out to me the most because its the oldest port in the city and possibly the island? I had a Chance to walk through freighters and right onto the docks. I saw cruise ships and old maritime buildings. The water was dark a d muggy because the sun had already well set. But I got a nice view of the water and the Coastline. It reminded me like I was walking through new York during Niko Bellic’s time in GTA4. This is probably the place where most of the goods from the mainland came in as well.
The day proceeded as normal with dinner and a few other monuments. Then back at the hotel, we had this rooftop view of Etna, a giant castle and the Duomo. Needless to say it was very beautiful and a perfect nightcap.
The day began with a Continental breakfast, which I have begun to miss since being in Italy even though its a small price to pay for an inexpensive hostel. The breakfast was actually very small and unimpressive. It was a small marmalade cake and cornflakes without milk, to go with a milk-laden caffe americano. All of these things can be bought at the supermarket. We did eat on top of the terrace, though.
After breakfast we checked out the castle near our hostel, but ultimately decided not to pay to get in since we have seen so many castles. We just looked at it from the outside and marveled at what used to be a moat around the stone structure.
We made our way over to an ancient Greco-Roman theater which the city has been digging up little by little for the past couple hundred years. The theater put info here. Since I haven’t seen the Colosseum from the inside and this was the closet thing to it, i was very impressed. I sat in the steps and tried to imagine like I was watching a show back in the 6th century B.C. I like to do that sometimes so that I can really get a full experience and an everlasting image in my head.
Post-theater wasn’t as appealing. We saw a former monastery that I gather is actually a school campus these days. I snapped some nice photos and we went off to an arc that leads into the city. It was constructed of similar materials to that of the Duomo in Siena and it was dressed with delicate sculptures helping to give it some personality. It was no Arc de Triomphe but it was still nice to see.
Following a bus ride back to Palermo from Catania, We took the rest of the day to relax and rest up for the upcoming southern Italy field study. The following day we left Palermo at 5 am and took the first flight to Rome so we could be back in Viterbo early in the afternoon.