Last month I did something pretty unusual. I said goodbye to Husband and the kids, and I went off to Italy for three days. I hadn't traveled on my own for almost 20 years. I was a bit anxious beforehand, but it felt quite liberating to do something on my own. It was like 'Eat, Pray, Love' with just the eating. And it turns out that Catania is a great city if you love food.
If you've never heard of Catania, it is located in Sicily by the sea. This means that you will find the most amazing fish and seafood. And with the growing popularity of wine being grown near Mt Etna, your meal will be complemented by some terrific wines. And because it is Italy, it is beautiful and the people are absolutely lovely.
Matteo, the owner of Casamichela, had invited me to stay at his guesthouse and try out his first ever food tour. I had never been to Sicily before so I was excited to visit. Matteo is a chef and is originally from Catania. He works in London but is passionate about spreading the word about the culinary delights of his home city. There was another blogger visiting, Katie (from Bloody Hell Brennan) and her fiance Ryan. Although we weren't together the entire time, I really enjoyed the time I was with them as they are such a lovely young couple.
There is something to be said about visiting a place with a local. Matteo showed me around when I first arrived. And he introduced me to breakfast - granita (a sorbet which they serve with a brioche and is very delicious!).
Fish Market - open every day, but best to go early. There is shouting and singing, and is an experience in itself. And besides seafood, there is lots of fresh fruit, veg, meat and some gorgeous cheese.
Casamichela and our special lunch - after the fish market, Matteo took all the ingredients back to the house to make an amazing lunch. Casamichela is on the first floor of a 17th century building. The guest house is decorated with lots of antique furniture and feels very authentic. As for lunch, there was cuttlefish pasta, fish, arancini and of course some lovely Catanian wine. The ingredients were so fresh and tasty, and Matteo's cooking was divine.
Catania - such a lovely city. And as it is quite walkable, you don't need public transport. I walked loads, on my own, and felt safe the entire time which was nice. Casamichela is only a minute's walk from Piazza Duomo, which has restaurants and bars and oozes charm.
I had such a fantastic time in Catania that I couldn't fit everything into one blog post. I will do a separate post on restaurants. I was astounded at how great, and inexpensive, the food was in Catania so I'd like to go into more depth later. For now, I just wanted to say what a lovely experience I had and how it would be lovely to return to Catania with the family or a girls' trip as it is just a wonderful place.
Some travel info: EasyJet flies from Gatwick to Catania in under three hours. Taxis to and from Catania airport to the city centre cost 25-30 Euro.