There were so many reasons why I was curious to discover a part of the history of this island and see it with my own eyes. So, I found a very good offer for plane tickets (2 tickets for the price of one), I packed my backpack, and I set off with my friends.
We stayed 4 nights in Catania and one night in Taormina. The accommodation was ok, in the end, but only after some disappointment. Even though we had paid for rooms with booking.com, they were canceled on the day we arrived, and we had to look for other accommodation – not to mention spend more money, which the staff from booking.com assured us we would get back.
So, if you are thinking of travelling like us, on your own, you must have some extra money and a back-up plan for where you could stay, in case something unexpected happens.
Catania is the second largest city in Sicily, being located on the east coast and south of Mount Etna, an active volcano.
I visited the city, went to the beach, enjoyed local gastronomic specialties, and walked for miles, discovering hidden, narrow streets, crowded squares, terraces full of people, and impressive buildings full of history – choosing every time to walk instead of taking the bus. The only time we used local transport was when we took the train to go to Taormina. The train ticket, one-way, costs approx. 5 euros. The journey to Taormina takes 1 hour, and on the train you have the long-awaited place, to charge your phone, wifi and air conditioning. In a word, everything you want, to stay calm for 1 hour.
We went to the beach in Catania at Lido Azzurro. Access to the beach is not for free, costing 4 euro / person entrance. Add another 4 euros for each if you want a sunbed and an umbrella. Without an umbrella, you’ll die, so it’s mega necessary! The beach has fine sand, is very clean and the entrance to the water is smooth.
I must tell you what I ate in Catania, and what you must try if you get there. Everywhere I ate, the food was very good, but most of all I liked 3 places: Pizzeria Deposito Bagagli, for a different pizza; Europa Caffee, for the best pistachio ice cream I’ve ever eaten; and Cuore Fresco, for the best panini in Catania.
Pizzeria Deposito Bagagli is small, has a super beautiful terrace on the corner of a street, and the pizza menu is taken to another level. What I noticed about them is that they have pizza options divided into white or red, depending on the sauce used.
I tried 3 kinds of pizza, one with seafood, one with prosciutto and hazelnuts and the other ham and mushrooms. The taste is divine. The pictures below speak for themselves. I wholeheartedly recommend visiting here, as you will surely find a pizza to your taste here. Very nice and welcoming staff.
We discovered the Europa Cafe by chance and out of necessity – we had just arrived in Catania, we were super thirsty, and we had to wait to see what we could do with the accommodation. So, I stayed on this terrace for a few hours, during which time I tried ice cream in a cornet, then ice cream in a cup, which had all the madness of pistachios and biscuits. A rainbow of tastes in your mouth. We returned here on the last night to enjoy another dose of that delicious ice cream.
Cuore Fresco, is the place I discovered a few hours before I left for the airport. I wanted a breakfast panini so much, and I didn’t just want a muffin. I am the kind of person who eats well at breakfast and considers this meal very important.
I was very surprised to discover that the local owner was Romanian. A very nice lady, who recommended us some super good, fresh, hot sandwiches. Here everything is fresh, comes with very large salads, simple sandwiches and some gourmet, a madness of tastes, perfectly combined.
Although the place only has 2 tables outside, you will be amazed when you see how big it is inside. Perfect wifi and air conditioning. For me, this place was exactly the oasis of coolness and freshness I needed that day, when it was 40 degrees outside. I’m sorry I discovered it on the last day, because without a doubt, I would have had my breakfast here every morning.
In Taormina, the restaurant that stole my heart was Osteria da Rita. You can find it on Via Calapitrulli, no.3. The staff here are very happy, with a sense of humor, but the terrace is always full in the evening, so don’t forget to do make a reservation. On the first night we couldn’t find a place outside and we chose to eat inside. I have to tell you that they wouldn’t let us in until they had given us sanitizer and checked our green covid certificates.
Here you have to be careful what you order, because they have enormously large portions! Best of all, order several dishes and taste each one, that’s what we did. I ordered a lasagna (I have to add a comment here and say it’s the BEST LASAGNA I’ve ever eaten, and I’m not a big fan of lasagna), seafood pasta and some beef rolls stuffed with pistachios. We came the next day to try and share the rustic plate, which includes prosciutto of various kinds, salami, cheese, olives, artichokes and other tastes specific to Italy.
What I liked here, over the other restaurants where we ate, was the fact that they brought us bruschetta at the beginning of the meal, and a digestive and almond biscuits at the end, all compliments of the house.
Their “coperto” is 2 euro / person. For those who do not know, coperto is a service fee applied to each customer, which is added to the bill. The prices are quite low, but cheap for Taormina. There, a standard sandwich costs 6 euros, and an Aperol spritz 10 euros, which is much more expensive than in Catania.
To give you an idea, the cheapest accommodation for one night in Taormina, close to the beach, costs almost double that of one night accommodation in Catania. But the view is wow, so it’s worth staying here for at least one night.
I must also tell you that for those who are not very athletic, you must avoid walking from the beach to the city center. It is a distance of 1km just to climb. For an easy trip, take the funicular. It costs 3 euro, and you can get up or down in 5 minutes.
Being a more sporty person, I like to explore, so I dared to walk this path twice. I think it’s the best way to get rid of excess calories during a vacation, especially when a lot of ice cream is involved:)
Other places where you can find something good to eat in Catania are: Street Food Sicily – they have some very good and filling pies; and Brasserie – pasta with zucchini and very good shrimp (although they are not on the menu).
Avoid Trattoria U Fucularu – it is expensive and I didn’t like it, although it had a lot of positive reviews on TripAdvisor.
In Catania am descoperit si Bacardi Breezer cu grapefruit. Este super bun. L-am gasit la un banal supermarket, la coltul strazii.
In Catania I also discovered Bacardi Breezer with grapefruit. It’s super good. I discovered it at an ordinary supermarket, on the street corner.
– definitely, pack the most comfortable shoes you have
– take the most comfortable and thin clothes, preferably light dresses
– you need a hat/cap, anything to put on your head, because you faint when it’s hot
– your camera / phone and good cheer
– if you can’t stand the heat too well, avoid coming to Sicily in August, it’s a fiery month
If you have any curiosities or questions, I will be happy to help. You just have to ask!