5 Balconi Bed & Breakfast Catania, Sicily

by Emma Bumpus on March 7, 2016

The vivacious streets of Catania boasting labyrinth alleyways beautified with elegant palazzos and sunbeam honey trap balconies unlock an azure-sky gateway to pure Sicilian adventure for careertraveller and family.

A plethora of sweet smelling shops brimming with everyday merchandise, cafes and pizzerias are authentically interrupted with the hubbub of Italian vespas, leading us fashionably to our palatial city break oasis.

Centrally located and just a 10-minute taxi ride from the airport we arrive outside our 18th century palazzo, whose wrought iron balconies ooze charm, history and grand hospitality. From the courtyard we take an elevator to the second floor and enter an elegant space of warmth, colour and tradition with subtle artefacts that hint we are in the land of Sicily.

Greeted by flamboyantly modern Sicilian tiles that flow infinitely below a grandiose high ceiling (all 5 metres), we observe the wall mounted 3 legged ‘Trinacria’, whose central medusa symbolises Sicily and begin our Sicilian experience. Hosts Rob and Cristina are a bilingual duo of English and Sicilian origin who bring a cultural zest to our stay, adding extra value to our B and B sojourn. Genteel and experienced, they provide a quick tour of amenities that include an espresso machine, guest fridge and impressive library of tourist information, the type that makes sightseeing effortless.

Whilst the kids explore this colourful and distinguished haven speckled with native Sicilian arts and crafts, including photographs and hand crochet tablecloths, the adults indulge a caffeine infused break on the balcony that offers sublime snow capped views of Mount Etna. Amidst the rooftops of Sicily’s second largest city, we study Catania, which set between the Ionian Sea and highest volcano in Europe, ripples with wanderlust history and adventure.

Our light and airy guest rooms are cleverly designed boudoirs with invitingly fresh pastel coloured walls that lead the eye tastefully towards chandeliers that hang prettily above sumptuous crisp white linen clad beds. Notably firm mattresses, built for those who appreciate heavenly slumber, defines a light and airy space where Catania’s sun infused rays bounce from the Il Padrino poster to encompassing chic old and new furnishings. From armoire and Venetian style dressing table to sangue red sofa, everything is stylishly placed, including the sweeping golden drape that skilfully masks the interconnecting rooms.

Breakfast is a celebration of colour, compassion and culture brimming with garden-fresh produce from the local food market. Freshly squeezed orange juice is a visceral trip through Etna’s mildly climatic orange groves that blossoms around the beautifully cured, salami, mortadella and careertraveller favourite ‘mafalda’, sesame encrusted ‘pane’. Baked traditionally in a wood-burning oven with Sicilian semolina flour, this crisp and nutty flavoured bread is an artisanal gateway to ‘la cucina siciliana’ that promotes the taste of travel.

On a journey of aromas we sample the exuberant historical centre by foot in 5 minutes and meet our guide Anna of LemonTour who provides an enlightening walk around Catania’s monuments. Piazza Del Duomo is a baroque nucleus of architectural delights with encompassing cafes buzzing with street life around the legendary Elephant Fountain, Catania’s good luck symbol. From the UNESCO world heritage St Agata Cathedral we trace the roots of Via Etna, Catania’s main cobblestoned street, which poignantly made with lava stone once lay in ruins after the 17th century earthquake.

Etna’s gaze remains focussed as we take the stone lava staircase next to the Carrara marble Amenano Fountain, which built by Italian Sculptor Tito Angelini in 1867 leads us through the famous fish market La Pescheria. Amidst this holy fish temple we discover the vibrant gastronomy of Catania that sparkles with ice displayed swordfish and silver pilchards in narrow streets simpatico of travellers. Fragrant eateries and overhead balconies lined with multi-coloured laundry are a contrast to the neighbouring Ursino Castle and Benedictine Monastery that hang in the shadow of Etna.

An escorted Etna Off Road tour is unmissable with a 4 x 4 jeep that captures all this volcano has to offer. Kids in tow, we traverse real ‘bucket list tour’ terrain that depicts tales of emotion and eruption across the centuries. Our ascent reveals a conflicting mix of lava flow destruction and renewal in the form of lava covered houses to trees showing signs of new growth. It is at the Southern slope Silvestri Craters that we experience moon-like volcanic scenery. Sublime!

In summary, energetic, ancient and passionate Catania is an alluring city crammed with flavours that command more than one bite. Our final 5 Balconi Bed & Breakfast breakfast is a dolce feast of feather light cornetti (croissants) filled with cioccolata and almond cream, beckoning a return trip. Look out Sicily!

Further information:

Details of 5 Balconi Bed & Breakfast can be found by clicking on their website 5 Balconi Bed & Breakfast

Further information about Lemon Tour excursions of Catania and Etna can be found on the link Lemon Tour

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