Mpanàta di Pisci Spàta
(Swordfish Covered with breadcrumbs)
Flour 1 Kg. of fish, cut it into slices, and fry it in olive oil. Spread out a 'focaccia' dough in a baking tin, completely covering the bottom and the edges; place on it the fried swordfish slices and ½ glass of olive oil, 250 gr. of tomato pulp, a celery core finely chopped; a spoon of sultana grape; a spoon of pine-seeds; ten stoned and crumbled black olives, salt, pepper and 100 gr. of fresh 'caciocavallo' cheese, cutted into small dice. Provide that the compound is well mixed, then close with a dish of dough, sealing the edges with a light folding. Hold in a hot oven for about 30 minutes
The Lenzuolo Fountain, River Amenano
Catania is a port city with no major river. However, there is one important subterranean river, the Amenano. It flows under the city and can be most easily seen at the Youth Hostel (see hotels and restaurants) and in Piazza Duomo, where it feeds the fountain 'dell'acqua a lenzuolo', the fountain of sheeting water.
The fountain was carved by Tito Angelini in the 1800s to celebrate the total encasement of the river's waters, which had caused untold damage to the foundations of the city center.
Interesting things nearby: Piazza Duomo, the Fish Market.
Etna: a railway journey around the volcano.
"The Alcantara valley"
You may try to travel around the volcano by railway: the Ferrovia Circumetnea. The main station is in Catania, then the train goes around the volcano, through the villages, along a very scenic route. The train is commonly usea as a sub-urban service for everyday workers living in the outskirts, so you won't find the typical (and sometimes, artificial) confort designed for tourist entertainment, but this could even be an advantage, if you like to experience common-life in the places you visit.
If you travel anti-clockwise, from Catania to Fiumefreddo, you will pass through Acireale, Aci Castello, above Aci Trezza (have a look at the strange rocks protecting the small fisherman port), Zafferana (town of honey) amid uncountable lemon trees (if you're an agronomist, please, don't have a close look at them: it's shame due to political mis-behaviours.....).
From Fiumefreddo, the train will turn on the left to enter the Alcantara valley. Piedimonte, Castiglione di Sicilia, Linguaglossa... Randazzo are very peaceful places, along the high plateau dominating the Alcantara river canyon.
The picture show a traditional house on the farm.
"Randazzo - a city with 3 cathedrals"
Strips of lava may be seen easily as they find their way amidst the old wineyards: kind of black tongues, remembering the permanent menace. The local wine (it's called "Etna") is quite good, the main producers co-operative is based in Solicchiata, soon after Linguaglossa. Randazzo is the main centre of the area, it has 3 cathedrals (two of them in my pictures), and a nice restaurant (San Giorgio e il Drago: see in Catania's page).
"Mount Etna - A tireless volcano"
Pistache need extreme drought andn they grow well within the lava fields. Bronte's pistaches used to be almost a monopoly (it's the only producing area in Italy), they are preferred in pastry making, because of their extraordinary deep green colour, it cannot be reproduced by the cheaper yellowish varieties which can be easily found on the market. Now, the production
is declining, because artificial dyes and consumer lack of consciousness make it impossible to afford the high prices of hand picking, walking around on the lava rocks on the slope of the volcano.
From Randazzo, the train will reach Maletto and Bronte, across the wildest part of the trip. Bronte (which took its name after the British novelists) is the centre of a very peculiar area, famous for its pistache-trees.
After Bronte, the trip will go acros the most abandoned area of the volcano and then it will become less interesting, passing through Adrano, Paternò and Misterbianco, which are badly influenced by Catania, whose industrial estates expanded in that direction.