Monday, October 23, 2017

Mosaics and Catania

I pulled a pomegranate from the tree, peeled it for the road and drank a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice from our tree. We said goodbye to our friends at the villa and began our 4.5 hour drive to Catania.

My leg was still quite sore but at least not throbbing like the day before. 

On our way to Catania we planned to stop at the Villa Romana Del Casale which is a 3.5 hour drive from Mazara del Valle. Some of the largest, well-preserved mosaic floors in the world are at this UNESCO world heritage site.

Romana del Casale is near the town of Piazza Armerina which was a little out of our way but well worth it. It was hard to believe the mosaics were created in Roman times.

Making our way back to the highway was a bit more challenging. Our GPS froze and we accidentally went into the town of Piazza Armerina with streets so tight and steep that we could brush the cars on either side. We would make a turn to get out and find ourselves on an even narrower and steeper street. Finally the GPS started working again, just in time to bring us into a funeral procession where the mourners were walking behind the hearse. Eventually we made it back to the highway.

I wasn’t expecting much from Catania but I was pleasantly surprised.

We drove past our hotel three times before we noticed the small sign announcing its existence. We parked our car up on the sidewalk Italian style, checked in and headed out to explore the city despite my aching leg.

I love Italian cities at night; they come alive with people walking around, socializing, shopping and eating.

The Piazza Duomo was a short walk away and low and behold, in and amongst the beautiful buildings was a pharmacy with a pharmacist who spoke English. I showed him my knee, which was a little infected and he took John and me into a back room where he cleaned it up, disinfected it, put medicine on it and wrapped it up. He gave John directions on caring for it (I’m squeamish with that kind of stuff). He even gave us suggestions for a great place to go for supper.

John and I then admired the lava elephant statue in the centre of the Piazza Duomo before going in to the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. We went inside and paid homage at Bellini’s tomb. There was also a glass tomb with a mummified cardinal.

Leaving the church we joined the lively crowds walking down the pedestrian streets. At one spot, there were armed guards keeping their eyes open for anything suspicious.

We walked up Via Etna to Piazza Stesicoro, where the Roman Theatre ruins were located. We travelled down a street that had coffin shop after coffin shop; a few of them offering 24 hour service...??... on our way to the Castello Ursini where numerous restaurants lined the street. With a crisp bottle of white wine,  we enjoyed our last a la fresco meal in Sicily.

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