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Catania [17] is a city located on the eastern coast of Sicily at the foot of Mount Etna, the biggest volcano in Europe. It is the second largest city in Sicily with the metropolitan area reaching one million inhabitants, a major transport hub, economic centre and a university city where you will enjoy a busy downtown and an active nightlife. Catania is also well known for its particular baroque architecture and urban design (the downtown area is a World Heritage Site, along with all the Val di Noto), consequences of the great earthquake of 1693 after which the city had to be rebuilt, like most of eastern Sicily.


The city has a history dating back 2700 years, dominated by several different cultures (Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Spanish, etc.) and was a rich commercial centre, mainly due to its port. Again, since the 70's, the city economy is growing as the urban area and the suburbs, making Catania a large metropolitan centre, mainly between the volcano and the sea. Today, even if you can find there most of the biggest commercial centers in Europe (especially Etnapolis); the old 17th century downtown area is still the center of the day-to-day life.

Catania is situated next to the biggest active volcano in Europe and has been destroyed many times in the past. As a result, Catania is a city where you can find a great variety of landscape and architecture, a lot of dirty buildings and also a lot of abandoned houses, especially in the mountains. However, since the city is a World Heritage Site, a lot of renovations have been made.

Today, you will feel in Catania a mix of nostalgia and "joie de vivre", especially at night or during festivals.

Sicilian Baroque[edit]

The major feature of this city is its architecture, which is predominantly baroque. The major characteristic of Baroque architectural is its theatricality. This style dominated Europe in the 17th century as a result of the reformation/counter-reformation where the statement given was one of grandeur. The preceding style was Renaissance, while the succeeding was Neoclassicism. The three major features are a near excessive amount of detail (statues, lots of gold, columns and pilasters, garlands and wreaths etc), facades which are taller than the nave (to fool the viewer about the size) and frescoes often featuring trompe-l'œil. Baroque from Catania has several unique features such as use of dark lava stone (basalt), the Bell in the facade itself and grotesque masks and putti.


Some of the best feature of Catania's area are

  • The Baroque architecture, mainly in the centre
  • Every morning, except Sundays, two fascinating markets are held:
- a large fish market in a beautiful setting off Piazza del Duomo
- a bustling food and clothes market off Via Etnea
  • Mount Etna, which has reshaped the city several times
  • The kiosks which act as social area for the locals by selling refreshments, such as coffee, Lemoncello or popular unique drinks such as "seltz al limone" (soda water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice) or "mandarino al limone" (soda water with tangerine syrup AND fresh-squeezed lemon juice).
  • The Elephant Fountain, from the 17th century, in Piazza Duomo
  • La Plaja, sandy beaches south of the city along the bay.
  • The Riviera dei Ciclopi, a rocky, volcano coast north of the city, stretching almost to Taormina


Sicilian used to be the common language here for centuries, as the Sicilian culture is isolated on an island. Even in Catania, you will notice Italian and Sicilian (like Palermo, Catania has its own dialect) in some neighborhoods, especially in inner areas, while most people speak mainly Italian in the city center.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Catania-Fontanarossa Airport [18] (IATA: CTA) with scheduled and charter planes arriving from destinations throughout Italy and Europe.

From the airport, there are half-hourly buses (ALIBUS) to Catania's bus station (just in front of main train station: Catania Centrale). The trip takes about 20 minutes. Tickets are sold on-board (4 euro). Do not forget to validate your ticket once you are inside the bus. If going to the Duomo, the nearest stop is called "ARCHI", a few meters away.

At 400mt from the International Airport Vincenzo Bellini “Fontanarossa” of Catania we have Catania International Airport Hotel [19]

By bus[edit]

Frequent buses run to Taormina, Messina, Enna, Caltanissetta, Ragusa, and Syracuse. Less frequent buses run to local destinations, Naples, Rome etc. The main bus station is opposite the railway station and 10 minutes walk from the city centre.

By train[edit]

Frequent trains run up the east coast to and from Taormina (but the station in Taormina is a long walk below the town, at Giardini Naxos better to take the Bus) and Messina, then on to Naples and Rome etc. Trains also run to Enna, Palermo (slower than the buses) and Syracuse. A scenic route runs inland to Caltagirone and Gela. There is one daily train to Agrigento. The railway station is 10 minutes walk from the city centre.

By ferry[edit]

Several Ferries run from mainland Italy to Catania. There is an overnight car ferry that runs daily between Naples and Catania as well as ones from Genova and Civitavecchia. One can also get a ferry to/from Valletta, Malta.

Get around[edit]


Catania has a compact centre and it is most convenient just to walk around. Travelling by public transport may be quite problematic, (watch out for your wallet too), due to the long waiting times for buses (even more than 1 hour). The city also boasts a very short metro line, which is still under construction; it runs from the Port (Porto station) to the Circumetnea train station (Borgo station), from where you can reach villages on the slopes of Mount Etna. When driving around in a rented car, you may have to put up with heavy, slow, messy, unruly traffic jams. Be careful not to look conspicuously touristy, exposing jewelry, large bags or photo gear that might entice fast pickpockets or robbers.

The metropolitan area[edit]

If you want to get along the coast (Acicastello, Acitrezza, Acireale), you should drive yourself, or call for a taxi (they are several at Piazza Duomo). You could also use the train or one of the bus.

To get up Mount Etna, you can take the private train line (Circumetnea) at Borgo metro station or a shuttle from the central station that reaches Rifugio Sapienza(usually leaving in the morning and return the evening) from where you can get to the top of the mountain (spring/summer only, regardless of the summer heat the summit will be cold so do bring a jumper).

Please note that the metro and the train to Mount Etna are closed on Sunday.

If you want to park there is a secure parking in the center of Catania called Piazza Lupo Garage.

See[edit][add listing]

Must see[edit]

old theater
"U Liotru", the Elephant statue symbol of Catania
  • The baroque Piazza del Duomo is attractive, lively and contains the Elephant Fountain - the symbol of the city and the entrance to the elegant via Etnea, the main shopping street.
  • The adjacent Norman Cathedral (Duomo) is imposing and worth a visit
  • The food and fish markets just below the Piazza del Duomo are a lively and colourful place to visit. This fish market is the busiest and most exotic of all over Sicily and has been described by the British TV chef Rick Stein as the best fish market in the world. Monday to Saturday morning only.
  • Via Etnea - the main shopping avenue, running North from the Piazza del Duomo has most of the city's imposing building and is busy throughout the day and evening. Lots of churches. This road is the equivalent of Las Ramblas in Barcelona, so in the evenings the local people put on their Sunday clothes and walk at a relaxed pace along this avenue.
  • Piazza Stesicoro, the original centre containing ruins of the Roman Amphitheatre. It is also the entrance to the main market (Mercato de la Fiera) which is worth a visit. Additionally it is one of the main bus hubs.
  • Teatro Massimo, a 19th century opera house in Piazza Teatro, which is the main meeting for the local young people. So its neighbourhood is very lively and busy by night.
  • Taormina, a world famous city, being both beautiful and the quintessential medieval town on a mountain top.

Other sites[edit]

  • Castello Ursino, a great medieval construction near centre that hosts the Civic Museum.
  • The Greek/Roman Theatre and the Odeon, still in good condition.
  • Palazzo Biscari, the most beautiful baroque palace of Catania (you can't visit).
  • The Villa Bellini, a great urban park of the 19th century
  • The Benedictine monastery that host now the Faculty of Literature of the University of Catania, the oldest in Sicily. That building used to be one of the biggest monasteries in Europe.
  • The adjacent unfinished church of San Nicolo, which was supposed the be the biggest in Sicily.

Do[edit][add listing]

St. Agata Festival 3 day long religious festival dedicated to St. Agata (Patron Saint of Catania) always the 1st week of February. Expect huge crowds (100,000+), never-ending firework displays, parades, street food and more. Book well in advance if you wanna see this incredible event. A lot of the locals leave the city but that doesn't mean you shouldn't see it at least once.

Take a tour to Mt. Etna. There are many different tour companies around the city with all about the same rates and routes. Most hotels/hostels can help you book a good one that will usually pick you up from your accommodations.

Visit the La Plaja the cities long, sandy beach just outside of town. Take bus D-EST and get of at "La Plaja" You ill have to pay to get into the different beach areas but it will include a Chair and Umbrella. The are plenty of beach bars serving food and drinks up and down the beach.

Buy[edit][add listing]

The "Pizzo free" shops are a group of shopkeepers that refuse to pay the racket to the Mafia. Catania's consumers sustain them by going shopping in their stores. A list of these shops is now available (

You can find fresh fish at the main fish market, Piazza Duomo. You might have to haggle!

Eat[edit][add listing]

Catania is proud of some specialities, like Arancino (cone-shaped rice croquette filled with meat, tomato sauce, cheese and peas) and other many typical tavola calda. The fish is also good, as Catania is a large port. The city is also known for horse meat, especially in some areas around the "Benedictine Monastery". Another famous speciality is Pasta alla Norma which consists in pasta (generally macaroni) dressed with tomato sauce and topped with fried eggplant slices, grated ricotta salata and fresh basil. Catanese pastry include the world-wide famous Cannolo alla Ricotta, the "Cassatella di Sant'Agata" (a small cassata) and the "Pasta di Mandorla" (based on almond meal). In summer, the typical breakfast consists in "Granita" (a kind of sorbet of almond or black mulberry) served with a sweet round loaf ("brioscia"): it is a nourishing and refreshing combination that can be found in almost any bar of the city.

Fast food[edit]

Like in most of Sicily, you can get a freshly made cold Panini in a “salumeria”, where you choose whatever you want to put in (prosciutto cotto/crudo and cheese is probably the most popular). Don’t forget that most of them are closed between 1-4PM and on Sunday afternoon. You can also have a tavola calda which mean “hot bite”, most of them made with cheese and meat, fried or baked. There is also the Sicilian specialty of Arancino, which are deep fried rice balls with various fillings, meat or eggplant or spinach, that sell at most places. They make a good lunch snack. During the evening, food trucks that sell hot, tasty Panini with even horse meat inside. Most people add fries into the sandwich. Usually, they are very popular among teenagers. Because it's quite cheap, there is normally confusion at these kiosks. The last few years Kebab shops have popped up all the city around.

  • Etoile D'or is just off the Doumo Square near the fish market. Arancini, Panzerotti, Pizza, Pastries and Sweets. Locals swear by the this place for fresh, hot food any time night or day. Open 24hrs.
  • Spinella Pasticceria, Via Etnea, 292/298, 95131 Catania, +39 095 327 247. Sicilian cakes, Cannoli, Arancini, espresso. Outdoor seating bar.  edit


  • Sicilia in bocca, Via Beato Cardinale G.B. Dusmet, 35. Tel “+39” 095 2500208, [20]. To try typical Sicilian food and pizza.
  • Beware that there are in fact two restaurants called Sicilia in bocca. The second one has very poor food quality, long waits, smoky outside section, and bad attitude towards foreigners (along with a different menu). When going to Sicilia in Bocca by taxi, be sure to specify the address.
  • In the proximity of Ursino Castle, there is a good selection of restaurants. Good food quality and decent prices. Camelot is great for the meat lover, Roxy has standard Sicilian/Italian food for a decent price with friendly staff.
  • L'Angolo della Chef, 77 Via Plebiscito. Humble homecooking joint. Traditional Sicilian dishes from caponata to polli alla brace. Not for the posh, but great for lovers of street food.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

Most of the nightlife is centered around the Piazza Bellini and the surrounding streets. Usually there are more people drinking on the streets than inside the bars. Tuesday is student night and gets quite packed. Another spot usually with a good mix of locals and tourists is the bar and courtyard of the Agora Hostel, usually packed on Mondays with live music most weekend nights. The area around the castle has plenty of places to drink and eat too.

Sleep[edit][add listing]


In Catania[edit]

  • Agora Hostel, 6 Piazza Curro, +39 095 723 3010 (), [1]. In a backstreet under the Duomo, it's lively and can fill up even out of season. Beds in a dorm rooms from €18.  edit
  • Ananda B&B, Via Muscatello 7 (Near Piazza Roma), +39 095 446 760, [2]. Very Friendly B&B in the centre of Catania, walking distance from the Bellini Gardens, Via Etnea and the Market. 30.  edit
  • BMoDe, Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 108, 95131 Catania. Phone: +39 095 715 9383 Set along the Via Vittorio Emanuele 2 main street in Catania, BMode is situated in the 18th-century Palazzo Tedeschi Paternò-Castello building. It offers free Wi-Fi, ultra-modern interiors and rooms with a minibar.
  • Hotel Etnea 316, Via Etnea 316, Phone: +39 095 250 3076 (Fax: +39 095 250 3076), [21]. Bright and airy 3 star guest house ideal for young travellers.
  • Hotel Valentino, Piazza Santo Spirito 39. Phone: +39 095 250 3072 Fax: +39 095 250 3072, [22]. Charming little 3 star hotel in the heart of the city with excellent friendly staff and a pleasant and peaceful atmosphere.
  • Suite Inn, Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 108, +39 393 955 2702, [3]. A wonderful bed and breakfast in Catania, in the heart of the historical center of the city within walking distance of great attractions like the Cathedral, the Elephant Fountain and the Teatro Bellini. It boasts a unique design environment of its kind and features spacious rooms equipped with all amenities like TV, wifi, minibar, safe, private bathroom and air conditioning.  edit
  • i Vespri Rooms budget rooms [23], Via Montesano 5, Tel +39 095 310 036.
  • Bed and Breakfast BAD, Via Cristoforo Colombo 24 (near Duomo), +39 095 346 903, [4]. BAD is the first designer Bed & Breakfast in Catania. Much more than a simple b&b, it is a unique mix of hospitality and creativity.  edit
  • Villa Romeo, Via Platamone, 8, 95131 Catania tel. +39 095 534 714 (Fax: +39 095 530 257), [email protected] [24]. Elegant, exquisite and comfortable hotel near the railway station.
  • Agriturismo san leonardello [25] San Leonardello farmhouse is situated in the municipality of Giarre, in the province of Catania, a few-minute drive from Etna, Taormina and the sea of Riposto and Acireale.
  • Globetrotter Catania, Vicolo della Lanterna, 14 (close to Duomo square), +39 095 093 3021, [5]. checkin: 12; checkout: till 11. B&B An antique building that has been recently renovated. 200m from the Dome, cathedral and Via Etnea. Globetrotter rents independent apartments with fully equipped kitchen, bathroom, air conditioning, TV, DVD, HiFi, internet Wifi and hairdryer. (37.500342,15.084812) edit
  • Opera (Bed and breakfast Catania), Via Antonino di Sangiuliano 129 (close to main attractions, like Duomo square, Piazza Teatro Massimo, via Etnea), +39 337 492 714, [6]. checkin: 11-22; checkout: till 10.30. B&B. The B & B Opera is located in Via Antonino di Sangiuliano, near Via Etnea, Piazza del Duomo and Piazza Teatro Massimo. The latter is really just a few minutes from the bed and breakfast and is characterized by the presence of numerous local and catering activities open until late. Double:€60. (37.50504696694728,15.09183257818222) edit
  • Stesicoro – Via Etnea, 123, 95124 Catania Tel. +39 095 311 178 [email protected] [26] B&B Small bed and breakfast located in the centre of Catania and overlooking the roman amphitheater. If offers 5 single, double, twin, triple and quadruple rooms with private en-suite bath, air conditioning, free Wi-Fi and breakfast included. Double and twin rooms.
  • Eco Hostel, Via Fornai 44, +39 095 723 3077, [7]. A modern hostel in Catania, a few footsteps away from the center and. Eco Hostel offers confortable rooms dedicated to each kind of traveller that wants to discover Sicilian culture and tradition. From €24.  edit

Around Catania and Etna[edit]

  • La Pietra Antica O'Munti, Via Andronico s.n., 95016 Puntalazzo, +39 095 782 4035 (), [8]. Farm house La Pietra Antica O'Munti, between Taormina and Acireale, near volcano Etna. Farm holiday.  edit
  • La Campana Guest House Misterbianco Catania - Via Giordano Bruno 80 - 95045 Misterbianco, Catania, Italy [27]. Telephone +39 340 961 7467. Elegant guest house close the historic center of Catania and the Mount Etna. Private bathroom, free wi-fi and breakfast included. Rates: Single N/A; Double €100- €150.
  • Farmhouse Accommodation Arrigo, C.da Arrigo Soprano Linguaglossa, Tel. +39 095 643612 (Fax +39 095 7774518), [28]. At the slopes of Mount Etna surrounded by a striking and magnificent vegetation. In the silence of a land of strong and firm gastronomic traditions.
  • Bed & Breakfast Villa Etelka, Via Sagone, 5 - Valverde (CT) Tel/Fax: +39 095 525872 [29]. BB in aristocratic Villa sea view and swimming pool.
  • B&B La Rena Rossa (B&B etna, Sicilia), Via Capuana 6 A, +39 3338628703, [9]. The Bed and Breakfast La Rena Rossa has a quiet and sunny position, it is surrounded by a wide garden and is the ideal way to spend your holiday between mountain and sea. Nicolosi ( the B&B's town, called "the Etna's door") represents in fact a strategic point that enables you to visit all the main East Sicily's wonders. 30.  edit
  • Path House (Luxury Suites in Sicily), Via Salvatore Carnevale, 32, Riposto (CT), +39 3473579217, [10]. Luxury Suite Apartments in Sicily, between the Mt. Etna and Taormina.  edit

Mid-range to High[edit]

  • Aga Hotel Catania – V.le Ruggero di Lauria 43, - 95127 Catania, Italy [30] Telephone + 39 095 836 2406 Fax +39 095 836 2385. The Aga is a four star hotel of Catania. Its bedrooms are divided in single, twin, double and junior suite. The services include the TV LCD, private bath, mini bar, safe, telephone, air conditioning Wi-Fi internet connection and Jacuzzi.
  • Hotel Maugeri (Grande Albergo Maugeri), P.zza Garibaldi, 27 - 95024 Acireale (CT), +39 095 608 666 (), [11].  edit
  • Hotel Agathae, Via Etnea 229, Phone: +39 095 250 0436 Fax +39 095 715 2668, [31]. Accommodation on the main drag running through Catania.
  • Gresi Hotel, Via Pacini 28. Off Via Etnea close to the post office. Tel. +39 095 322 709, email:[email protected], [32]. Shiny clean, AC, bathroom, balcony, high arched ceilings with paintings. €75 without breakfast.
  • NH Catania Parco Degli Aragonesi, Viale Presidente Kennedy, 95121 Catania tel. +39 095 723 4073 [33], Hotel
  • NH Catania Centro Piazza Trento, 13, 95129 Catania Tel. +39 095 316933, [34].
  • Hotel il Principe, Via Alessi, 20/26, Tel. +39 095 250 0345 Fax +39 095 325 799, [35]. Boutique hotel is located in a recently restored aristocratic building in the baroque heart of the historical centre.
  • Hotel La Ville, Via Monteverdi, 15, +39 095 746 5230 (fax: +39 095 746 5189), [12]. One of the oldest hotels in Catania, this family run hotel establishment is well designed in a calming and refreshing liberty style and offers a homely welcome as well as business facilities. Self catering apartments also available.  edit
  • Hotel Nettuno, Viale Ruggero Di Lauria 121, =+39 095 712 2006 (fax: +39 095 498 066), [13]. Modern and spacious hotel on the beach of Catania with full facilities, including open air swimming pool, restaurants, health spa and full meeting facilities. Ideal for families as well as corporate.  edit
  • Romano Palace, Viale Presidente Kennedy, 28, 95121 Catania, +39 095 596 7111, [14]. Luxury Hotel. Beach resort few minutes away from Catania historical center, very close to airport, with Jacuzzi, private beach and restaurant.  edit
  • Sheraton Catania, Via Antonello da Messina 45, +39 095 711 4111, [15]. Luxury hotel with 162 rooms and 7 suites, that can be reached through two charming and panoramic lifts, are coloured in perfect harmony with the surrounding Mediterranean environment; each room grants our clients the highest quality and safety standards according to the Sheraton life style: air-condition, balcony/terrace, cable TV, wake-up service, minibar, safe, hairdryer, smoke detector & sprinklers  edit
  • Hotel Villa Cibele, Marletta st. 17/b (Cibele st. corner), +39 095 351 480, [16]. The hotel is in an elegant early 19th century building. The villa was restructured and has reached the old time majesty and elegance. In it the villa emerge the ancient and the modern following by a logical line of design and colours. (37° 31' 00.91 N,15° 03' 47.10 E) edit

Get out[edit]

  • Mount Etna - an area of volcanic landscape, with solidified "rivers" of lava. The top is 3,323 m high, so be prepared for the cold, even in summer. One bus a day runs at about 8:30AM from near the railway station via Nicolosi to the Rifugio Sapienza, 1,400 m below the summit.
  • Acicastello or Acitrezza with a nice medieval castle built on a giant rock, over the sea. Little fisherman village is well known for its giant rocks lying in the sea, supposed to be the ones thrown by the Cyclops at Ulysses. You will also find good restaurants and a great port. You could have a look for Acireale, a town known for the greatest carnival of Sicilia (in February). Sicilian Sail do a nice one day sailing tour up to Acitrezza from the port of Catania which is a great way to see these beautiful sights.
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