The Catania City Guide was written by art historian & Catania native, Claudia D'angelo. The photographs were taken by Marcella Offeddu.
Piazza Duomo - Where history, archaeology and culture meet. Before visiting the baroque cathedral by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini, don't miss the Terme Achilleane. The thermal baths were built in roman times, around the third century A.D and were rediscovered at the behest of the Prince of Biscari, Ignazio Paternò Castello. Inside the cathedral, take a look at the frescos by Giacinto Platania that show the lava flow of 1669.
Badia of St. Agatha - This church was created by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. Make sure to go up to the terraces to enjoy a splendid view of Catania from above!
Elephant Fountain (U Liotru) - In the middle of Piazza Duomo is this monument built by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini around 1735. Its popular name is “Liotru” after the magician Liodoro who, according to the legend, rode the animal to fly from Catania to Costantinople.
Amenano Fountain - Located at the entryway to the fish market. Amenano is an underground river still running under the city that has been buried over time by Mount Etna’s eruptions. Its water comes out in this beautiful fountain called “acqua a linzolu” (water flowing down like a linen sheet) by the locals. Every day until noon behind the fountain you’ll find the noisy and fascinating fish market!
Via Etnea - This is the most important street in the center of Catania, ideally connecting the sea with the rest of the city facing mount Etna.
Benedictine Monastery - The largest Benedictine monastery in Europe and today is home to the Department of Humanities of the University of Catania. A real gem of the late baroque period, who’s history tells a lot about Catania itself. I highly recommend taking the 1 hour guided tour (available in English, too) to discover this magical place. Some of the treasures you’ll find inside: a roman house, the beautiful cloisters, the huge kitchens and much more!
Ursino Castle - The home of Friedrich II of Sweden and the city museum, the Ursino Castle is a fascinating square shaped building, now used to host temporary contemporary art exhibitions. This is also a popular place for people to go in the evening, because of the many restaurants that surround it.
Palazzo Biscari - A beautiful aristocratic baroque palace from the XVIII century with impressive Rococo interiors. You can also visit the annexed atelier of the designer Marella Ferrera, as well as the house of the writer Giovanni Verga.
Giardino Bellini - After a long walk in the city center you can take a break at the public gardens dedicated to Vincenzo Bellini which have been recently restored and are often used as a Flea and Handmade Market location.
Buatta - A lovely spot to grab a great bruschetta while visiting the baroque via Crociferi. The international atmosphere and impressive variety of local products, used with wisdom and respect for traditions make this a very special place. (It’s not very spacious, so we recommend making reservations.)
FUD - A hamburger spot, but they use only local products and have invented new interesting fusion recipes to crossover international cuisine with the Sicilian traditions. You can also get a great Neapolitan style pizza and a variety of sandwiches.
L’Etoil D’Or - A pasticceria (bakery) that is open 24 hours a day so you’ll find fresh ricotta cannoli and cassata which makes it the perfect place to end the night with something sweet. But, they also have traditional Sicilian food and what we call “tavola calda”: The “Cartocciata” is a delicious sort of pizza dough ravioli filled with mozzarella and a variety of different fillings, “Siciliana” is the fried version filled with mozzarella and anchovies, and of course they also have the best “Arancini” ever.
COFFEE & GRANITA
Almost every square has its own kiosk where you can have coffee and ice cream, or try a lemon soda and salt drink (seltzer, lemon and salt) or a tamarind juice. You’d better not miss a glass of almond milk, a typical Catanese drink, well known and appreciated even in the rest of Italy.
Caffè Savia - A historic cafè on the old via Etnea that offers almost anything you would crave (because they are a bakery). They also have delicious ice creams and unforgettable granitas. The pistachio and almond granitas are the best, to eat on the typical Catanese brioche (soft, sweet bread) which is really different from those you’ll find in the rest of Italy.
Fisharia - The latest hotspot in Catania, Fisharia is a very easy-going place where every single plate they invent is something special, with ingredients sourced directly from the Mediterranean Sea. You can a have an aperitivo with great sicilian wines and delicious fish tartare. They also have a restaurant area, so it would be a great place for lunch and dinner, too.
Bohème Mixology - With its bohemian atmosphere with a modern twist, this is the perfect place to chill out and taste special (and very good looking) drinks, before dinner or right afterwards.
FUD Off - this stylish place is tiny (it’s basically a hallway with industrial vibes and interesting lighting choices) and is the perfect place to have a gourmet aperitivo. They have a wide variety of “tapas”, made only with local ingredients and great cocktails revisited with Sicilian flavors.
Nino Mannino - is also the name of the owner of this trattoria close to via di San Giuliano, crossing via Etnea. Here you can find almost any traditional Sicilian dish, but in my opinion you HAVE to taste the classic “pasta alla Norma” (named after Bellini’s opera) or pasta with black squid and, above all, the “involtoni di mozzarella” (mozzarella and meat rolls) that they always have on their menu.
I Principi - A classic Catanese trattoria with a great view of the Ursino Castle. Their specialty is grilled equine steaks and meatballs that they serve with a very tasty salad of tomatoes, red Tropea onions and ricotta salata. The buffet entrees are remarkable because of their Caponata and Parmigiana.
Il Sale Art Café - A very interesting restaurant located inside of an art gallery! Via Santa Filomena is itself extraordinary for the number of restaurants and clubs you can find, but this place is definitely worth a visit for its traditional and (at the same time) modern cuisine!
Cutilisci - A wonderful spot if you are in the seaside area (lungomare), just out of the city center on the way to Acitrezza. The great thing about this place is the location (they have tables in this little square right ON the water in a charming port called San Giovanni Licuti). They serve great fish dishes and good pizzas as well.
Byzantine chapel of Bonajuto - A fascinating, rich of history place where you can enjoy a good glass of wine or continue on to via Landolina – always crowded with youngsters looking for fun, especially after dinner for a drink
Agorà Hostel (aka Ostello) - The Ostello is one of the liveliest places to go for a drink! It’s pretty much always packed and you can get very cheap cocktails and local beers while listening to the music and performance events. Monday night is couscous night. Don’t forget to check out the downstairs restaurant, which is set in an underground cave formed by an old lava flow, and has the Amenano river running through the bottom of it.
Alessi staircase - Has medieval origins and leads to the beautiful baroque via Crociferi. There are some interesting buildings such as Palazzo Zappalà, the Benedectine convent and LOTS of nightclubs such as the renowed Nievski pub. After 10 pm, this place is always crowded (winter and summer!) with people looking for fun, especially the whole LGBT local community. That’s why I love this place!
Juna - is a tiny clothes shop right in the centre, opposite of the Bellini gardens. The nice owner is herself a taylor and her shop hosts a selection of the coolest handmade scene from different part of Italy. Worth a stop by!
Ceramiche De Simone - A nice ceramic and home decor shop where you can find colorful, artisanal pottery directly from the sicilian tradition… with a modern twist!
I Dolci di Nonna Vincenza - This is a great place to go and buy special traditional pastries made out of dried fruits (like "paste di mandorla", little pastries made with almond flour and spices) or any other pastries with fresh ricotta cream (cannoli, cassate, crostate). They also have a shop at the airport where they prepare special travel boxes to take away!
Catania Airport - Aeroporto Fontanarossa
Airport Shuttle – AMT Alibus to/from airport and train station costs 4 euros. Service starts at 4:40am and ends at 12:00am. From 7:30am to 9:30pm the bus runs every 25 minutes.
Train Station – Catania Centrale with Trenitalia.
Bus – AMT 1 euro/ticket at a Tabaccheria. One ticket is valid for 90 minutes or get a Daily ticket at the cost of 2 euros.
Metro – 1 euro/ticket. Service starts from Borgo at 6.40 a.m. and ends at 21.14 p.m.
Car - The city center is mostly closed off to cars “Zona Traffico Limitato -or- ZTL” (unless you’re a taxi, bus, or resident of that area) in any case it is always very crowded and the traffic can be annoying. I don’t recommended driving around the city, but instead to tour the city on foot. If parking on the street, please take note of the color of the lines: White lines mean parking for residents only, blue lines mean anyone can park there (make sure to see if there is an hourly fee to pay), and yellow lines mean NO parking (either Handicap parking or Bus stops).