Catania and Siracusa bleg

We will be there too, your suggestions are very much welcome!

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http://www.ristoranteancora.com/2010/it/
Unpretentious, excellent seafood.

In Siracusa, my family and I had an excellent meal at Trattoria Archimede, thought that was about ten years ago.

Their Greek theatre is one of the biggest, and very well preserved.

I thought the atmosphere in the Piazza Duomo after dark was very nice. Lined with restaurants and filled with locals with their children and dogs until late hours. The sort of place I wish my town had to loiter in. I know it's not really a thing to do like a museum or restaurant or other site, but if you find yourself in the neighborhood between dinner and bedtime, it is a nice place for a bite or a coffee or something.

+1 for the Greek amphitheater, especially if you can conduct your own acoustics tests.

BT

+2 the Amphitheatre and especially the remarkable huge cochliear-shaped chamber carved beneath it which so fascinated Carravagio - the purpose of which can only be conjectured
The cathedral which is an especially striking example of the conversion of a temple (of Athena also a lighthouse) into a baroque monstrosity
The quary where (very probably) Nicias imprisoned and worked to death thousands of Athenian warriors captured at the end of a disasterous episode in the Pelponessian wars
If youre timing is right they have a classical theatre festival in the Amphitheatre and to see Aeschylus (usually in italian) as the sun sets is forever
the marzipan is great

Catania is unpreposessing but has good fish restaurants and claims the best ice cream in Ialy (as does everywhere) but with some justice

If you get one trip away it has to be the bling but astonishing retirement villa of co-regent (with inflation busting Diocletian) of the world the Villa Casale; or if you have more time Silunente is the most magical ruined city of all antiquity (and Goethe agrees with me on that one) - it is a schoolchilds dream of Troy.

The best food is always in the humblest seeming establishments - cafes and street food stalls; and its amongst the best in Italy.

If your time budget is tight, skip Catania.

Siracusa is nice and has, for me, a terrific vibe. Not sure why. Stay on Ortygia, the island about six inches off the mainland, and take the municipal bus to the Amphitheatre and other places in the rest of the city.

Like SB7, I had a good meal at Archimede some years ago. The food in general is simple, good, and plentiful. Eat fish.

If the villa Richard mentions is the one with a tiled floor depicting girls in bikinis playing volleyball, or the Roman equivalent (yes, it's authentic) then it's definitely worth the trip. The ruins at Agrigento are worth it too, except they seem to be perpetually under maintenance of some sort, and all that scaffolding detracts.

I was fascinated by the architecture of the Cathedral, which incorporates the Doric columns of the 500BC Greek Temple of Athens. It was during my trip around Sicily that I realized how much Catholic church design derives from Greek temples.

I've been using your ethnic dining guide on my last several trips to DC and am happy to finally be able to give something back!

In Siracusa, Trattoria Pescomare was excellent. I second NeedleFactory on the the duomo being pretty neat, reusing the old columns.

If you can get out to Mt Etna, you can see where Charles Lyell discovered that geological processes take millions of years by examining the volcanoes and influenced Darwin to argue that evolution takes millions of years based on the fossilized shellfish that are abundant in the area.

It's been sixteen years since I've been there, and I was in high school at the time, so I don't have much to offer, except for one thing:
If you have any way to do so, check out a gated community in the area. Fascinating.

Siricusa is a very charming place to stroll around. I found the Amphitheater to be disappointing. If you have a chance, you should see the archeological sites of Agrigento and Villa Romana del Casale. These are both spectacular and rank among the very best examples of Greek temples and Roman mosaics, respectively, anywhere in the world.

I should add that Agrigento's appeal is the romantic ruins in a great setting. It does not have well details.

Actually Agrigento itself (rebuilt with truly criminal insensitivity in the anni di piombi) does have its charms being the real Mafia capital. It has a unique and sinister atmosphere (and excellent food). Sicily excells in the creepy. The rooms full of slightly phophorescent mummified babies in the spinechilling Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo are not for the fainthearted; and the island is prone to sudden mists at altitude - something of a speciality of Enna which is perched very high on a hill with its deep history (subject of one of Ciceros most famous oratories) and a wierd unforgettable atmosphere. Still all these places are not that close to Catania and Siracusa although Sicily is suprisingly easy to drive around having benefited over the years from a quite exceptional amount of subsidised road building (well an exceptional amount of subsidy and some road building). Sicily is one of the most interesting and compact places on the planet and well worth a longer visit to see the stunningly beautiful byzantine/norman mosaics at Monreale alone and ponder yet another cross-over civilisation that took root there.

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