For a coastal city, it’s strangely easy to spend time in Catania and forget the sea is even there. Most of the city’s seafront is filled with its busy harbour, but you don’t need to go far to get a taste of sea air. Just north of the city are a string of former fishing villages, where dark volcanic rocks formed by Mount Etna’s eruptions meet the clear turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea. Off the coast at Aci Trezza you can see three tall, rocky outcrops known as the Cyclops Islands. The legend goes that they were formed when the king of the Cyclops threw giant rocks at Odysseus. Another relic of battle – this one maybe a bit more historically accurate – lies at Aci Castello, where a towering rocky cliff is topped by Norman castle carved out of the same lava rock. It dates back to 1076, with a strategic position guarding the Messina Straits. This part of Sicily’s coast might not have the classic golden, sandy beaches, but it has more than its share of drama, history and legends.
Many thanks to Celebrity Cruises for hosting me in Sicily. All views and opinions are, as always, my own.