Here’s a list of the 15 best things to do in Catania in Italy, along with famous landmarks, museums, and other points of interest.
The imposing Castello Ursino is also known as the Castello Svevo di Catania and is one of the most beautiful monuments in southern Italy. The well-preserved castle was built in the 13th century and for a while, became the seat of the Sicilian Parliament.
Today it acts as a museum for visitors and offers many exhibits from the history of the Castello. The castle is surrounded by lava stemming from the eruption of Mount Etna in 1669.
Basilica Cattedrale Sant’Agata
The Catania Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Agatha, a Santuzza protector of the city. The Roman-Catholic cathedral is located in the historic center of Catania. The cathedral is today the seat of the Archbishops of Catania.
The exterior of the cathedral is shaped by a Baroque façade designed by Gian Battista Vaccarini. Don’t miss some of the art that is preserved in the structure, such as the fresco depicting the eruption of Mount Etna in 1669.
La Pescheria is the name of Catania’s famous fish market. Every morning the streets behind the Piazza del Duomo are used to sell freshly caught fish. Swordfish, prawns, clams, mussels, they all get sold here.
Watching the lively trading that takes place here is a great way to spend the morning. Scattered around the area of the La Pescheria are several seafood restaurants that invite guests for lunch and dinner.
The Roman Theatre is one of the historical landmarks of Catania. It is situated in the central, old-town area of the city and was built in 300 BC. It features an orchestra pit and a classical elliptical stepped seating area.
Due to the many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that hit Sicily, the theatre is not suitable for live performances anymore. One of the most remarkable aspects of the theater is how well it is embedded into the city. The houses surrounding the theater almost seem like they are part of the scene.
The Via Etnea is one of the most popular streets in Catania. The remarkable thing about it is that it leads all the way to Mount Etna. If the weather conditions are clear you can even see the volcano in the distance when looking along the street.
Today the Via Etnea is one of the most popular shopping streets of Catania. There are also a lot of restaurants and cafes lining the street. The street is lively during any day of the week but becomes very busy on Saturdays.
Many Sicilians use the weekend to visit Catania to go shopping or spend a few lazy hours in the cafes and bars of the lively city.
Monastero dei Benedettini
The Monastero dei Benedettini, located just a short walk west of the Piazza Università, is one of the largest monasteries in Europe. The construction works started in 1500 and continue to this day.
The monastery is a great example of a building combining the different styles of the eras during which it was built. The monastery can be visited as part of a guided tour.
These tours are very much recommended due to how informative they are. Visitors will be shown around the most important areas of the monastery while learning a lot about the history of the buildings and what life was like for the inhabitants of the Monasterio dei Benedettini.
Palazzo Biscari is one of the most beautiful buildings in Sicily. It was built by the Castello family during the late 17th century. Particularly impressive is the Roccoco style of the interior and the complex decorations of mirrors, stuccoes, and frescoes.
The palace is a testimony of the beauty of the Sicilian baroque architecture and is a perfect place for concerts, receptions, and fashion shows. Visitors can go on guided tours around the palace.
The friendly guides will make sure that you don’t miss any of the most interesting aspects of the building.
Chiesa della Badia di Sant’Agata
The 18th century Chiesa della Badia di Sant`Agata is an elegant church designed by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. The church is known for the beautiful views offered by the dome of the church.
Visitors enjoy a 360-degree view of Catania and Mount Etna. The interior of the church is characterized by the beautiful marble floor and the Castronovo marble used for the altars.
Teatro Massimo Bellini
Catania’s most famous opera house is the Teatro Massimo Bellini. It is named after the famous Vincenzo Bellini, a composer born in Catania. The theater was inaugurated in 1890 and seats 1200 people.
In recent years, the opera house went through some renovation works and has now become one of the best opera houses in Italy. Attending an opera is a great experience but interested visitors can also join a guided tour through the building and experience the Teatro Massimo Bellini that way.
Day trip to Acireale
Acireale is a popular destination for day trips. The coastal town offers plenty of sights and is less hectic and busy than its bigger brother Catania. The Villa Belvedere, an oriental villa situated on a scenic hill over the sea, should not be missed.
It combines beautiful sea views with interesting architecture and history. The Basilica Collegiata San Sebastiano is an imposing church in the town center and worth a visit.
Acireale has a small harbor with excellent seafood restaurants, a great place for lunch or dinner. The town offers great parades during the carnival season.
Aci Trezza is located between Acireale and Catania. The town is known for its lovely harbor and the many excellent seafood restaurants it offers. The town is very authentic and offers a great glimpse into Sicilian small-town life.
Three tall rocks can be found off the coast of Aci Trezza, according to Italian legends they are the stones the Cyclops threw at Odysseus in the poem ”The Odyssey”.
Day trip to Syracuse
The historic city of Syracuse is located around 65 kilometers south of Catania. Many visitors of Catania use it as a destination for a day trip due to its beautiful old town and harbor.
The Island of Ortigia is the most historic and scenic part of the town. Two bridges connect it to the rest of the city. The small island is home to many interesting sights such as the Temple of Apollo, the Fonte Aretusa, and the very imposing Castello Maniace
Experience the Festival of Saint Agatha
Each year Catania hosts the unique Festival of Saint Agatha. The festival is based on the dramatic story of a beautiful young girl that resisted the flattery of a governor but paid for the defense of her moral integrity with much suffering, including the cutting off of her breasts.
For her sacrifices, she was announced the Virgin and Martyr of Catania. Thousands of devotees are attending the festival each year. The highlight of the festival is when the bust of Saint Agata leaves the safe room of the Cathedral and is being transported around the city in a silver carriage.
Lido Azzurro is the most popular and beautiful beach in Catania. It is popular amongst locals and tourists alike and is a wide, clean, and beautiful beach that is perfect for families and beach-lovers in search of some relaxation.
There is a playground for children here as well as all the other amenities you would expect from a city beach. During the summer months, the beach is often used for music festivals and other events, a great way to party in beautiful surroundings.
Day trip to Mount Etna
The active volcano Mount Etna (3,326 m) is the most significant landmark of Sicily. It has been a constant influence on the life of the Sicilians and is deeply connected to the spiritual and cultural heritage of the island.
Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and regularly the site of spectacular eruptions and impressive lava flows. There is a cable car that leads next to the peak of the volcano.
The last meters can either be hiked or done in a Jeep. Please keep in mind that the peaks of Mount Etna are only to be hiked with a trained guide. If you want to avoid the crowds visit Mount Etna early in the morning. During the busier times, the queue at the cable car can be lengthy.
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