While it doesn’t attract the same kind of attention as Palermo, Catania seems to be getting ready for its moment in the spotlight.

We stood on the deck of the hulking cargo ship, through the bluster and drizzle in the Strait of Messina, both of us feeling something like sailors docking at an unfamiliar port of call. My new acquaintance, a Genovese Ph.D. student in anthropology named Giacomo, explained to me that he’d rarely ventured south of Rome, much less ever been to Sicily. But he was excited, as was I, to see the brilliant golden statue of Madonna of the Letter come into view as a faint rainbow stretched 180 degrees across the harbor. He explained his travel philosophy: that the self is a vessel one empties at home and slowly fills with experiences over the course of one’s travels.

That sounded like a great frame of mind to begin my trip to Catania, the second largest city in Sicily, positioned in the shadow of Mount Etna on the island’s eastern coast. While it doesn’t attract the same kind of attention as Palermo, Catania’s unheralded delights are worth exploration: fine architecture, bustling markets, lively cultural events and centuries of history dating to the city’s beginnings as a modest Greek colony. And while the euro has seen an uptick over the dollar in the last year or so, a trip to Catania can be had for a relatively modest sum.

While I could have flown to Catania from where I was staying in Rome, I opted for the more scenic train ride. A second-class seat cost me 69.50 euros (about $86), and while the seats didn’t recline (brutal on a 10-hour ride), the train was half empty so I had the seats next to me to myself.

In addition to the joys of train travel (something I’ve documented in the past) I got to experience something quite novel: When the train arrived at Villa San Giovanni, at the tip of Italy’s boot, the entire thing was loaded — passengers and all — onto a large ship and ferried across the water to Sicily. Once unloaded in Messina, we continued in the same train down Sicily’s coastline, past Taormina and into Catania Central Station.

Articolo tratto da New York Times: https://nyti.ms/2IaqldT