Catania

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Catania 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. (less...) (more...)

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Hotels

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  • 4 star hotels 4 star hotel
  • 3 star hotels 3 star hotel
  • 2 star hotels 2 star hotel
  • 1 star hotels 1 star hotel

Cities

  • Metropolis over 100 hotels
  • Big city 50-100 hotels
  • Medium city 20-50 hotels
  • Small city 5-20 hotels
  • Village below 5 hotels

Points of Interest

  • Beach Beach
  • Business object Business object
  • Casino Casino
  • Civic property Civic property
  • Education Education
  • Entertainment Entertainment
  • Golf course Golf course
  • Green space Green space
  • Harbor Harbor
  • Historic site Historic site
  • Interesting place Interesting place
  • Medical Medical
  • Monument Monument
  • Museum Museum
  • Shopping Shopping
  • Skiing Skiing
  • Sports facility Sports facility
  • Theater Theater
  • Winery Winery

Points of Interest in 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
  • 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.
  • Castello Ursino, a great medieval construction near center that host the Civic Museum.
  • Palazzo Biscari, the most beautiful baroque palace of Catania (can't visit).
  • The Villa, a great urban park of the 19e century (currently closed for renovation)
  • 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 unachieved church of San Nicolo, which was supposed the be the biggest in Sicily.

Cathedral Square

Catania Cathedral

Porta Uzeda

Villa Pacini

Church of San Giuliano

Palazzo Biscari

Emilio Greco Museum

Piazza Mazzini

Elephant Fountain

Piazza Stesicoro

Roman Amphitheater

Massimo Bellini Theater

Ursino Castle

Greek-Roman Theatre

Bellini Gardens

Roman Columns

Gothic-Catalan Arch of Saint John of Friars

Roman Odeon

Benedictine Monastery of San Nicolo

Catania Port

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Popular events in Catania in the near future

Date: Category: The event list provided by Eventful
The event list provided by Eventful

About Catania

Background

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 under the most major currently 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

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.), façades which are taller than the nave (to fool the viewer of 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 façade itself and grotesque masks and putti.

Activities

  • Walk 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.
  • 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
  • Visit a minor religious festival, but avoid Sant'Agata on the 5th February due to the excessive crowds.

Food

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

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), for €1 to €3 . 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. You will normally pay €1,50 for one piece. There is also the Sicilian speciality of arancino, which are deep fried rice balls with various fillings, meat or eggplant or spinach, that sell for €1,50 at most places. They make a good lunch snack. Finally, you will find, especially during the evening, big kiosks that sell hot, tasty and fat panini with even horse meat inside. Most people add fries into the sandwich. Usually, it’s about €2,50-3,00 and they are very popular among teenagers. Because its quite cheap, there is normally confusion at these kiosks.

  • Spinella Pasticceria, Via Etna 300,  +39 095 327247. Sicilian cakes, cannolis, arancini, espresso. Outdoor seating. $.
  • Trattoria Il Mare, Via San Michele 11,  +39 095 0930595. Delicious seafood. Casual atmosphere.

Restaurants

  • 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.
  • Sicilia in bocca. Via Beato Cardinale G.B. Dusmet, 35. Tel “+39” 095 2500208. 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.

Drinks

  • 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).
  • Barrique Club +39 3206103478. Via S. Guliano, 242. Great atmosphere, good bar with Italian and international drinks, excellent snacks and cakes. At night live jazz and Sicilian music.

Shopping

The "Pizzo free" shops are a group of shopkeepers that refuse to pay the racket to the Mafia. The Catania's consumers sustain them by going shopping in their stores. The list of these stores is now available (http://www.addiopizzocatania.org/public/cmsms/index.php?page=lista-pizzofree)

  • Every morning,except Sundays, two fascinating markets are held:

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Catania on Wikivoyage.

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