Monday, December 10, 2007

Per Caso

Here's why I like Catania. It's Sunday night. I'm getting antsy for lack of exercise. I need a walk. I go out and head downtown. The streets are packed, and I mean packed full of people. Ok it's Christmas shopping season. But it's kind of cool that things are so lively. With everything open improbably until 8 on a Sunday night, all the Christmas lights, the people in cafes and bars and crowding the streets, it feels like a big party. I don't feel like doing anything complicated for dinner so I just get an arancino. Then I go wandering about a bit more and by chance run into a couple of guys I met the other night at Indigena and then at the Blonde Redhead concert. I join them and we have a beer. They play in a band here that's going to be touring the US in March. They're playing SXSW. I've never been to Austin. You should come out for SXSW then, they say. Idle chatter, probably. That's a lot of money. And time. And I will have just had a three month vacation. But, you never know. We wander down towards the Teatro Bellini which is covered with Christmas lights and is blaring opera at incredible volume into the square, which sounds like it would be obnoxious, but it's actually quite nice. It turns out none of the three guys I'm with have ever been inside the place. I've been inside once, to see Tosca with Christa and Mary, but Rosa (the professor's wife) was terribly disappointed afterwards when I told her we had gone to our seats, watched the show, and then left without exploring the building--we supposedly missed some cool stuff. They're giving small guided tours of the place, so we go inside. This is exciting. I'm with locals who have now also become tourists. There's a fairly impressive salon that I hadn't seen before. Very fancy. That was about it. Another beer in another place. We chat about a lot of stuff, but one thing I hear about is the Benedectine monastery and the crazy unfinished church there in Piazza Dante, which already is one of the most impressive building complexes I've seen in Catania from the outside. (No picture--Laura was the only visitor I managed to make it over there with, sorry.) Apparently there is a whole series of tunnels underground that exploit the existing roman city that modern Catania was built on top of, that go all sorts of places, and there's lots of strange stories. He offers to show me around sometime and so we make a tentative appointment for Wednesday lunch time. Then home. It's nice to be out and about with the locals. I don't know very many people here, so it's pretty cool that I can run into them by chance and we can go out and have a good time. That's all. Good night.