Sundays we have pranso at the Antica Locanda. Not only do they have sublime food, but it’s such a local Sunday place to eat. We had Fish Soup and Pasta Nero di Seppia, along with a good white wine from Mt. Etna.
We even dressed up a bit! By now they know us, and the waitress that we have reaches for the camera to take our picture. She knows what we want!
On Monday we heard some commotion up by the Apollo Temple, so we walked up there tofind out what was going on. It turned out to be a young people’s demonstration. The sign says,” Hotel Institute Fights for their Rights.”
From there we headed to the market to buy fixings for pranso. We bought Lambuche, which is mahi-mahi and we bought cleaned sardines, which Burt made into ‘stuffed sardines.’ That and a nice heirloom tomato salad with bread made us feel well fed. The wine was some frizzante white wine that they sell in the market that we like.
We spent much of the rest of the day watching Burt’s computer, looking at eight episodes of a series on Amazon Prime, called “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisley.”
On Tuesday, Sept. 25th we got an email from my sister, Jeanne, wishing us a “Happy Anniversary!” It was three years (!) since the day Burt and I met at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra concert—-sitting next to each other. We had celebrated it the last two years, but it escaped our memory this year, so luckily Jeanne reminded us.
It worked out beautifully, though, as we had plans to go to Catania, by bus, that day to take in the Bellini opera, “Adelson e Salvini.” Bellini was born in Catania in 1801 and the city fathers have celebrated that by constructing a wonderful Opera Theatre, that is all red plush and gilt. It was inaugurated in 1910 with Bellini’s most famous opera, “Norma.”
We took a taxi from the bus depot to our hotel. Catania is very different from Siracusa——boodles of 19th Century elaborate buildings are everywhere. The hotel was well-located in centro.
We unpacked, then used the iPhone to direct us (by walking) to Da Antonio, a trattoria that got high marks in the Lonely Planet. I don’t know if something went wrong, or if it really was further than I thought, but it seemed to me we kind of walked in circles, but by asking directions about four times, we finallyfound it.
We had a lovely pranso
—-we did like the
trattoria. We started
with a beautiful bottle of
white wine from the Mt.
Etna region along with a
big plate of Sicilian
antipasto, which we
shared. We followed
that with one serving of
pasta (huge!) which we
shared. It was orchiette
with clams, in a cream of pumpkin sauce.
From there we went to the Bellini theatre to see if we could pick up our reserved tickets, but nothing was open yet. So on the way home, we stopped for gelato—actually Burt had granita, more of a sherbet, which is really popular here.
We dressed up a bit and returned to the Bellini for a 5:30 PM performance. The theatre was as we had hoped—-it seats 1200 people in the familiar horseshoe pattern with boxes going up four levels. There were very few tourists there—-mainly locals with gray hair, like at home. It wasn’t air- conditioned so was a bit warm, but many women had brought fans to use—-it helped when a woman seated in front of us fanned herself (and us!)
The orchestra was wonderful and the acoustics of the orchestra were outstanding. There was one aria duet with the tenor soloist and a trumpet that was just heart wrenching. It sounded as though the trumpet was right next to us. The chorus was very good; the soloists were good, but, of course, this isn’t the Met. There were no programs—-kind of a low-budget operation as one would expect——Catania is not a big city.
It was over by 8:30 PM—-we walked back to the hotel, having enjoyed our Anniversary Celebration!!
The next morning we had our nice croissant
(pistachio) and cappuccini, then went to the market. It was HUGE and quite different from Siracusa—not nearly as much seafood, although I understand they have a separate fish market. Burt bought a rack of castrated lamb (small) and a slice of standing rib horse meat. We also bought a Pakistani mango, some carrots and some rosemary (hard to find here).
Then we took our luggage (one small suitcase and a carry bag) to the Bellini Museum. It
was in the house in which he was born and raised. There were pictures, statues, opera original scores, and his death mask! Also
five piano fortes used by his musical family.
Then a taxi to the bus depot, through the rain. We arrived at 10:30 but the bus schedules seem a little loose here—-there was supposed to be a bus at 10:30 but nothing happened.
We had return tickets that we had bought the day before on coming to Catania. The 11:00 bus finally arrived at 11:30 as it was pretty bad weather by then. I was first on the bus, giving my ticket to the driver. He said, “Oh, No! This is for yesterday!” You have to use your return ticket the day you buy it. “What do I have to do, buy another ticket? Can you sell me one?” “No, you’ll have to go (a block away) to the ticket office and buy one.” So Burt waited and would try to get the bus to wait (already late) while I ran down the street and across to the office. I quickly bought two more tickets and ran back, in the rain, and the bus had not left! Yay! We got on in time! Actually in spite of being a half hour late in arriving, the bus didn’t leave for several more minutes after I returned—schedules are LOOSE, as I noted.
When we arrived in Siracusa, we stopped on the way home at the grocery store. We bought several of bottles of different drinks, along with a bottle of olive oil and some other things. After we checked out, Burt opened our suitcase to put some of the bottles in—-the others went in the carry bag. When he went out the door, the bells rang—-apparently something wasn’t charged properly? The man came and looked it all over and said to go. Then when we went through the door again, nothing rang. I don’t know what that was all about.
Home (?—-well it seems like home after a month) at last. A successful outing.
Last night Burt and I walked to the puppet theatre, bought two tickets, and waited for the show to begin. The theatre had about 82 seats—-we were seated in a top corner where Burt had to crick his neck to keep from hitting the brick arch that went over his head. Still, we could certainly see well.
I’m having lots of 6th grade fun with their word for puppets, which is ‘pupi’ pronounced ‘poopy.’ The show was operatic in style with only Italian dialogue, but one could follow the story of a man in full armor trying to ‘get the girl.’ It involved lots of fighting, even cutting off somebody’s head! It lasted about 45 minutes—-
there were four puppeteers that took a bow after the show.
We walked home in the light, enjoying all the people who are out for their passeggiata.
The weather really turned the last few days. We’re having a sirocco wind from Africa. It
really cooled things off and dried things out! Our laundry dried in a few minutes, unlike earlier, when it was hot and very humid. I see it is forecast to go back to sunny and hot.
Yesterday for pranso Burt cooked the horse meat piece of standing rib that we bought in Catania. He cut it up and stewed it and we ate it over pasta. It was excellent, but I’m not sure one could ever tell the difference between it and grass-bed beef. It’s very lean.
We were planning to go to Noto today, but decided, instead to go on Monday, even though that’s our last day here. The forecast is for full sunshine then, and warm weather, unlike today, which is overcast and windy. I’ll get this out instead.