Walking And Eating In Downtown Catania, Sicily

I’ve got a ton of posts to crank out on our family vacation to Sicily and Salzburg.  I’m hoping to get my butt in gear.  Here’s a quick peek at what I expect to cover:

This was our second time visiting Catania and our second time exploring the city center.  Having been through the city a second time, I wouldn’t characterize it as one of our favorites.  On this second trip, we did discover some better dining options.

We spent about half of a day walking around Catania and dined in the city center twice during this trip.  We had learned of a restaurant in the heart of the city that had a river running through the basement.  That definitely sounded like a cool activity for the kids.  We parked a few blocks away and set out for Agora, a restaurant in the basement of a hotel.  The neighborhood is a bit on the rougher side.  There’s plenty of graffiti and we encountered a man harassing/assaulting a woman.  He was quickly surrounded by a dozen or so folks who resolved the issue, but I wouldn’t call this a family-friendly part of town.

The restaurant wasn’t open yet when we arrived.  However, the staff was perfectly fine with us walking downstairs to see the river.  The restaurant itself is pretty much carved out of a cave.  While it would’ve been fun to enjoy a meal here, stopping by to see the cave and river was a solid choice.  Pretty cool, quick experience.

From there, we walked to the basilica, where there are a handful of shopping and dining areas.

We had zeroed in on a restaurant called Sicila In Bocca.  While the restaurant got good reviews, we were a bit underwhelmed.  The restaurant specializes in seafood and we did sample a few seafood plates.  Overall, I’d probably pass on dining here again in the hopes of finding more inspiring food elsewhere.

Within a short walk from the restaurant, there are a handful of gelaterias nearby that make a good choice to finish up a meal.

A Better Dining Choice In Catania

We did end up having a memorable meal during our time in Catania.  The restaurant is located a bit north of the city center.  We had discovered it through the Fodor’s guide we bought that covered Sicily.  It sits upstairs with a portion of the dining room outside.  The sign on the door was Tumapersa.   You can find the restaurant’s address via Google Maps using that name.  However, the name on the menus was different.  I don’t actually remember the name, but don’t be surprised if the name on the door when you reach the door upstairs.  They open a bit on the later side, and we generally dine on the earlier side with the kids.  It wasn’t 100% clear what time they did open for dinner the night we showed up.  However, the staff was unbelievably gracious by offering us a table for dinner while they dined together before the night’s service started.

We found the staff very warm and inviting.  We were the only group dining for almost our entire meal, and they accommodated all of our needs.  As you might imagine, the menu covers typical Italian fare.  The menu is a balance of pasta, pizza and seafood.  We hit on all of these areas, as well as a really delightful cheese and charcuterie plate.

We also enjoyed two wonderful bottles of wine from the region.

Sitting outside under the stars for dinner was a delightful end to our time in Catania, all under the watchful eye of a midnight-black cat who peered over us from the rooftop.

Cat On A Warm Clay Roof?

The Final Two Pennies

Our time in Catania wasn’t necessarily our favorite of the trip.  We had a really memorable restaurant experience. We enjoyed Taormina much more than Catania.  But, if I’m being honest with myself, that’s really my fault.  I booked us into a hotel in the region where we could get free rooms.  The lure of connecting rooms that didn’t cost anything was what had us in Catania.  I should have connected that we weren’t madly in love with Catania the first time we visited.

We made the best of it.  But, there’s a lesson that the draw of free rooms for family travel may not always end up with the most positive result.

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