Friday, November 28, 2008

Sicilian Playgrounds - there is hope!

So first impressions can be wrong. Or partially wrong. Or maybe my standards are getting lower the longer I am here. In any case, I must admit that my belief that there were no decent playgrounds in the Catania area to bring a toddler to has changed. I am happy to report I have a handful of places that I can choose from when looking for some fun and interaction with other kids. While they still don't compare to Madison Square Park in NYC, these are some very acceptable Sicilian alternatives. I hope to continue adding to this list as I make new discoveries.

Catania - Piazza Michelangelo
This is a long, narrow piazza that stretches over several blocks. There is a big kid slide on the northern end and an enclosed little kid playground on the southern end. In the middle are grassy and rocky areas, paths and benches. When weather permits and one has the time or some other reason to be in the center of Catania this is a great playground, clean and full of other kids. I like to combine play time with shopping at the nearby children's store, Chicco, just across the street, or at the Bio Supermarket (on via Patane), a few minutes away by car.

Catania - Parco Gioeni
Read all about this large, urban park with plenty of swings, slides and coastal views in the link above.

Catania - MiniClub Ludoteca
This is a fun indoor play option for your regular rainy day. They also have two outdoor terraces stock full of playground equipment when weather permits. This is a day care in the morning that opens its doors in the afternoons and evenings to anyone willing to pay 7 euros an hour. You could technically leave your child there for what they call 'baby parking', something I have never tried and wouldn't feel comfortable doing at this point. Inside you'll find everything from wooden slides and gyms to soft mats, play houses, building blocks, balls, cars, a kitchen corner, reading room, and more. The staff is lovely and invite you to join in the regular activies that take place with the day care kids like snack time, music circle, or play doh. The only negative is the fact that in the evenings private areas can be rented out for birthday parties. Even though the parties aren't allowed to play indoors with day care kids, there is extra noise, loud music and many people going in and out, taking away from the otherwise cozy atmosphere. Another plus worthy of mention is location: The ludoteca is located outside the chaotic city center, and street parking out front is easy and free, meaning headache free access! There are also some good kid-friendly things within walking distance. Down the street a few blocks you can taste one of the best gelatos in town at Bar Ernesto. Instead, crossing the main highway, Lungomare, you are steps away from the little beach front enclave of San Giovanni Licuti, where you can visit the fishing port or small black sandy beach, extremely dirty, yes, but somehow still charming, yes too.

Acireale - Centro Commerciale Ciclopi
This is a new playground (in the picture at the top), which means CLEAN! It is outdoors, but within the shopping complex, which also contains a nice supermarket, CityPer, and some other so-so stores. We usually go for a combo playground / shopping excursion. The playground is big and the ground is either sandy or pebbly along the paths that lead to the jungle gyms, swings, slides for all ages, see saws and bouncing animals, too. Toddler loves playing in the sand and sometimes I bring his beach toys for digging and raking, which always seem to attract lots of other kids too. While the sand is great now since it is still new, I am a little worried in terms of long term cleanliness. At some point this will become one big ash tray, no doubt.

Acireale - Giardino Comunale Belvedere
I wrote about this sweet little playground previously. You can't beat a green space on the cliffs of the lovely town of Acireale.

Acireale - Cocomambo
read all about our first visit here on this post.

Aci Castello - Piazza Castello
Not exactly a playground, but picturesque, car-free zone, and often full of entertainment. Read all about it here.


  1. Glad you found some places to play! I'm really enjoying catching up on your posts...lovely photos and tales of Sicily :)

  2. So glad to have discovered your blog via Karen's South of Rome blog. We are moving to Sicily this summer with our 3 and 5 year olds. It is fun to see what adventures are ahead for us.

  3. Thanks for the wonderful playground reports! This is truly cherished info for parents.


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