Monday, October 26, 2009

Cruising Catania

Ever since we noticed our first 'dancing bus' this summer driving past our house one day, my son has been in love with this particular vehicle. I am referring to the roofless tourist buses that I have seen in other Italian cities as well, that drive around the city for quick and easy access to the main sites. The term dancing bus is not exactly accurate, for on the tour bus itself you will find no music or dancing. But the one that cruised by our house this summer, presumably rented out for an event, was filled with dancing people and blasting music that left an impression on my son and lead to a world filled with 'dancing buses'.

Usually this 'Katane Live' bus line can be seen parked in front of the Porta Uzeda in Piazza Duomo, and if you are walking by, chances are you will be solicited for a ride. For 5 Euros (kids are free) you can take the 50 minute tour and get on and off the bus at 12 different stops along the route. The ticket is valid for the whole day, so for tourists visiting the city it is not a bad way to get to different points of Catania throughout a day of seeing the main places of interest in the city center. 

Despite my son's attraction for the bus, I had never seriously considered taking him for a ride just for the fun of it. That is until a close friend of mine did just that with her 2 year old and reported back the success of the outing. So a few Saturdays ago, with nothing special planned for the morning, I jumped on the opportunity to treat the little guy to a ride on the dancing bus. The day was sunny and beautiful with just a slight breeze, so I wasn't too worried about being cold driving around in a convertible bus. Once in the piazza, we were also tempted by the little tourist train that is another option for getting a tour of the city center. But once my son caught a glimpse of the bus, it was all about the 'dancing bus' and we climbed on just in time for departure.

And off we went. From the start I could tell this was going to be fun and relatively relaxing for mama too. The little guy was content on sitting and kneeling on his seat, looking at all the interesting things contained in a city from up high for a change. We got a new perspective on buildings, fountains, a stretch of the lungomare, piazzas, churches, construction sites and other vehicles (garbage trucks were a fav). And although no music played, we both enjoyed listening to the recorded commentary that piped in whenever we passed an important area or building and I did learn some new tidbits of information. And for non-Italian speakers, with a pair of headphones you can plug in and listen to the information in your language of choice. I particularly enjoyed the views of the long avenues, the chance to soak in all the architectural details (plant-filled balconies, hidden terraces, glimpses of decorated facades) and getting a peek into the city's Botanical Gardens, which apparently you need to make an appointment to visit. 

And exactly 50 minutes later--when we were both feeling ready to get out and stretch our legs--we pulled up, back at our starting point in the Piazza Duomo. This had been a perfect 2 year old adventure, and I couldn't have asked for better company. But as we made our way through the piazza towards our car, the little guy changed direction on me, and was heading straight towards the train ride we had passed up earlier. Thank goodness I was able to convince him to save that one for another day! But no doubt, we will be back again soon to continue our city adventures. 


  1. What a great idea! I've taken the kids on "dancing buses" (love the name, by the way) in other countries before, but I never thought to do it in Catania. Sounds like a fun new way to see a familiar city. Oh, and I can't wait to hear about your explorations on the train...

  2. Pata enjoyed a "dancing bus" we took during an evening visit to the gardens of the Reggia di Caserta, and it was dark without much to see. I'm sure she'd love to take one during daylight hours; it sounds like lots of toddler fun.

  3. I'm off to Sicily for a visit in two weeks with my kids, so I love this post!

  4. That actually sounds like fun...getting a glimps of the flowered balconies, hidden terraces, decorated facades - I would love that part. I can never get enough of that when I am in Europe...ohhh :)


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