Last Updated on February 15, 2024 by Celeste.
Last May, I embarked on a journey to Catania—a city that defies easy categorization. As someone hailing from the north of Italy, this trip held special significance for me. From lush greenery to ancient volcanic might, from culinary delights to chaotic streets, Catania weaves a captivating narrative. Join me as I unravel the layers of this vibrant Mediterranean gem and list the top things to do in Catania.
Exploring Catania: A Tapestry of Contrasts
Our days in Catania were well spent. In less than a week, we got a very good impression of the city and its surrounding areas. Below is a description of the things that we did.
Top things to do in Catania
Read also: The Best Family Hotels in Catania
Our taste buds danced through the streets during a delightful food tour. From arancini to cannoli ( in Sicily with pistachio!), each bite revealed the soul of Catania’s cuisine.
Sicilian cuisine is a symphony of flavors, and Catania plays a leading role. Don’t miss the street food! Catania’s culinary scene reflects its rich history and cultural fusion.
Pictured above is our local guide talking about the culinary history of Catania and a typical snack; the Sicilian rice ball, fried with egg and breadcrumbs and stuffed with various fillings.
Tip: If you would like to do a food tour while discovering the city, have a look at this Street Food Guided Tour.
Guided by history, we wandered through baroque squares and narrow alleys on a captivating city tour. The Fontana dell’Elefante, with its lava elephant, stood as a testament to the city’s resilience. Catania’s architecture, influenced by Greeks, Romans, Normans, and Baroque styles, tells stories of conquests and endurance.
You can easily discover the city center in two hours, such as during this Catania City Highlights Tour.
The Mediterranean whispered secrets as we walked along the sea during a serene seaside stroll. The waves carried stories of ancient mariners and modern dreams. The juxtaposition of urban life and natural forces was truly remarkable.
At a winery nestled on the slopes of Mount Etna, we sipped volcanic wines during an enchanting wine tasting.
Traditional melodies filled the air, merging with the earth’s fiery spirit. Mount Etna’s smoldering presence added drama to Catania’s landscape.
You may also like: A traditional Etna wine tour and wine-tasting activity.
Clattering through villages, we glimpsed rural life while riding the traditional train around Mount Etna. The train rides the Ferrovia Circumetnea, an ancient railway line that dates back to the end of the 19th century. It travels along the slopes of Mount Etna, a Unesco World Heritage Site, to discover Europe’s highest active volcano from an unusual viewpoint.
Catania’s restaurants beckoned, and we savored pasta alla Norma, swordfish, and granita. Each dish whispered tales of sun-kissed fields and bustling markets. Under the moonlight, Catania transformed—the blackened lava stones glowed, and the city’s heartbeat pulsed through our footsteps during a memorable evening walk.
Do as we did: Discover Catania evening city secrets and apéritif Tour
What I discovered is that Catania is a green city with beautiful buildings. It is also a Melting Pot of Cultures. Catania’s past is a tapestry woven by various civilizations. Its architecture, influenced by Greeks, Romans, Normans, and Baroque styles, tells stories of conquests and resilience. The blackened buildings, constructed from lava bricks, are a testament to its fiery history.
Catania’s chaotic energy sets it apart from the serene north of Italy. Yet, it resonates with Athens, my home city. The spirited people, ‘passionate’ drivers, and unpredictable weather. Perhaps it’s the Mediterranean temperament that binds these cities…
The imposing Mount Etna dominates the skyline of Catania. It’s awe-inspiring to witness this active volcano as soon as you land at Catania’s airport. We were ‘lucky’ because the volcano had just erupted a few days before our arrival.
Don’t miss the chance to explore Mount Etna up close. Its smoldering presence adds drama to Catania’s landscape. The compactness of the city makes it an ideal base for this volcanic adventure.
Top things to do in Catania: Click here for more information and tours to explore Mount Etna from Catania.
In summary, Catania may not flaunt the easy romanticism of coastal Italian towns, but its raw authenticity, culinary treasures, and volcanic backdrop make it an exceptional destination. Whether you’re savoring local wines, wandering through baroque streets, or soaking in the lively nightlife, Catania leaves an indelible mark on every traveler’s heart.
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