Driving around northeast Sicily mountain/volcano area, Catania


We couldn’t deal with the possibility of more Amalfi Coast-like crowds in the Sicilian resort town of Taormina so we decided instead to take a very scenic drive south on ss185 though the mountains and small lovely hilltop towns north of Mount etna. Very glad we did. Lovely quiet towns and spectacular scenery with fog, rain, sun adding to the atmospherics. We stopped in one town, Novara di Sicilia, to pick up some of its local cheese and salami, then found an unlikely picnic table, very rustic, on the edge of a winding pass in a pine forest (the table was made out of pine trees). We also chanced upon a gorge, near francaville di Sicilia that was pretty impressive, even to this gorge-snob (which I became thanks to Ithaca, NY.) and we got caught behind a funeral procession of people walking solemnly behind a hearse in castiglione di Sicilia another hill town with amazing views out across the mountains.

Unenthusiastic about repeating our past near-disaster experience trying to drive to our b&b Crociferi in the central historic district of Catana, we returned the car early at the airport and took a taxi to the b&b (even the taxi driver was unclear about how to get to the b&b thanks to all the one way streets and pedestrian zones. He dropped us off several blocks away. We had another gorgeous room at the b&b, an old villa, and were greeted warmly by Teresa, who sent us to a nearby family trattoria, Nuova Trattoria del forestiero ( via Coppola 24) that had fantastic Sicilian fare but very slow service. I had pasta Norma (with eggplant, tomato sauce, basil and what was supposed to be ricotta but was a sharper hander cheese. Still great. Dirck had veal scapolinne, in a wine, lemon sauce. Delicious. Surprising how affordable veal is here. And I wish I could cook eggplant the way the Italians do. it’s velvety soft, full of flavor and moisture..

Teresa’s husband Mario drove us to the airport at 6:30 am for our return flight to rome. Again very glad not to have the car. when we next visit, I would like to spend more time in Catania and Naples. Both seemed really lively and interesting, with grand architecture and lots of bohemian street life.

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