Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A few local adventures

Here's a quick attempt to share some of the more local Sicilian adventures we've been having the last few months:

I went to the circus with my 3 year old. I had my reservations, not much different than those related to going to the zoo, but somewhat worse since the circus evokes images of animals being whipped into servitude and living in the insane conditions that come with traveling on the road. But since there are so few kid-oriented events in Sicily, I decided to keep an open mind and let my son experience the circus as the magical spectacle it would surely be from his 3 year old point of view. Although not 100% 3 year old appropriate (due to some very crazy clowns) and definitely disturbing in terms of the animals, my son loved just about every minute of it and it was hard not to get swept up in his enthusiasm despite my inner squeamishness.

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Villa Bellini has reopened! The only real park in Catania's center, Villa Bellini has been mostly closed for over 2 years of restoration work. We went for a visit the very first weekend it reopened and it has plenty of walking paths and fountains and benches and play spots. We all hope the city will be able to maintain it as the clean, inviting green space it is, something Catania has been sorely missing.

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A birthday to remember. Living in Sicily is its most fun when discovering new places. With a birthday at home this year I felt inspired to do just that and visit a spot that had been at the top of my list for years now (I emphasize the my because the other adult member of this family has a different opinion about more touristy destinations, but on my special day I could not be denied this one). My day trip of choice? One of Sicily's most beautiful spots--Isola Bella. After all these years I had never been, and we had a truly spectacular morning there. The photo says it all I think. The place is breathtaking, the snorkeling is wonderful, and the shallow pools of turquoise water and soft, pebbly sand make it a paradise for kids as well. Yes, it is a little nightmarish finding parking and carrying your beach gear down (and back up) all those steps to get to the water. But, if you go off-season, get there early and leave early to avoid the crowds, it is so worth it. A peaceful spot that makes you instantly feel like you are on vacation, even for just a few hours.

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Some new discoveries: We finally figured out how to get to the ancient Roman baths called Santa Venera al Pozzo and located in Aci Catena. The place is beautiful and quite large, but only open on Sundays at noon when the little church (S. Venera) on the site is used for mass. We could only peak through the fence and wander around the perimeter of the site, but at least we now know how to get there and when a visit might actually allow us to view the ruins from the other side of the fence.

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And if you are in the Acireale area and happen to be looking for a place to eat, try the popular and rustically charming seafood restaurant I Cavaddari, tucked away in the small town of Santa Caterina just below Acireale. There is a wonderful little courtyard and a surprising array of house antipasti that can turn your usual lunch into a special feast. It is also worth taking a stroll through the town towards the beach. In a few short minutes you will have a breathtaking view of the rocky coastline, and if weather permits you can climb down the steep staircase to experience the water up close.

5 comments:

  1. I love your blog! I am following you! I invite you to follow me!

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  2. Hi! I'm just wondering are you Sicilian?

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  3. Hi Sweet life, thanks for your comment - no I am American, but my husband is Sicilian.

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  4. Hi! You're welcome!! That's nice. I have heritage from Sicily & also from Naples & Calabria.

    I hope you have a great day!

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  5. Nice to know the Villa Bellini is open. I've always wanted to visit Isola Bella too.

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