Italy Tour Day 5: Catania

Hi I’m Ceci! I graduated from High School this spring and will be going out east for college next year. This is my third year playing bass for GTCYS, and second year playing in GTCYS Symphony. We started the day bright and early with a 2:45 am wakeup call to catch our 6am flight from Sorrento to Catania Sicily. I, like the majority of the group was pretty exhausted after our wake up call, but luckily we had many opportunities to sleep and relax on the bus ride and plane. After arriving we drove to a main square in Catania where we had a wonderful breakfast of local pastries at a cafe before starting our walking tour of the city. My favorite pastries were the fresh cannolis, they had both a traditional cream flavor and a pistachio flavor which were both delicious!

After our leisurely breakfast we started our walking tour of Catania which was my favorite part of the day. We were able to visit many local sights like the Cathedral, City Hall, Market and Amphitheater, while learning more about the unique culture of Sicily. The Cathedral of Catania is a beautiful building that includes a main chapel dedicated to St. Agatha, many beautiful statues and a display of a mummified past archbishop which was definitely the most memorable and part of the tour for me. The mummified archbishop had a silver mask over his face, but his hand was visible at the top of the case. I had never seen anything like this before and it was really interesting to hear about the history behind mummification in Catania. One of the most interesting fun facts I learned about the Cathedral was that after a large earthquake that destroyed much of the building, it was rebuilt using the stones of the local Roman Amphitheater.

After visiting the Cathedral we continued the tour by walking through a local market which had many fish, meat and vegetable stands. I had a lot of fun interactions with the vendors despite my Italian language skills being beginner at best, I think this shows just how welcoming this city was to tourists and newcomers. This walking tour helped me see just how unique Sicily is compared to the rest of Italy, and how regionality can affect almost anything, from the dialect of language to which fruits you must try before leaving.

After our walking tour ended, we had free time where small groups could explore the city and find lunch. My group had two important missions for this time, 1: find the jewelry vendor we had seen on the tour which sold handmade stone jewelry and 2: try arancini, a local specialty made out of risotto, and we completed both missions successfully!! We found beautiful bracelets and necklaces that we bought as souvenirs, and my life is now forever changed from finding my new favorite food: arancini.

After our time in the town center we drove to our hotel to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing and catching up on much needed sleep. We had a great day and I can’t wait to see what’s in store next!

Ceci Watson, bass


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