Start by going to Dom square,which is (as everywhere in Sicily) the heart of the city, and the starting point for city tours by bus or tourist train.
Standing in the center of the square, you can admire the city’s emblem: The Elephant’s Fountain, which depicts an elephant carved in black lava, topped by an Egyptian obelisk. According to narratives, this statue holdsthe power to appease Etna’s volcano anger.
On this square, you can also see the City Hall.
Behind the fountain, there is Catania Cathedral, which can be visited free of charge every day of the week. Its exterior facade is very beautiful, all in white marble and the interior is dedicated to Saint Agatha, a young virgin tortured after refusing the amorous advances of a Roman prefect.
This Christian martyr became the patron saint of the city, celebrated every 5th of February during the Feast of Sant’Agata. Its relics are located inside the cathedral.
In the cathedral, you can also see the tomb of Vincenzo Bellini, the famous classical composer. Born in Catania in 1801, he is the author of numerous operas, including the “Norma”, his masterpiece.
Just behind the Dom square, go for a walk in the fish market (Pescheria). But beware it’s a real authentic market! You will stroll among decapitated swordfish, live lobsters, sardines and anchovies. Fishes are emptied in front of your eyes and you may have to wade around a little bit in water and blood.
Adjacent to La pescheriais a more classic market, renowned for its vast choice of cheeses but also, and this is less appealing, for selling carcasses of animals and sheep’s heads, horns included! The markets are held every morning on weekdays.
From Dom square, take Via Etnea, the main street of Catania. At the end of the road, if the weather is clear, you will be able to see the silhouette of the famous volcano that many tourists from all over the world come to admire: the Etna.
While you’re here, you can do some shopping in Via Etnea’s many shops, or drink a coffee and enjoy a pastry
At the southern end of Via Etnea, University square there is the Piazza dell’Universitàis surrounded by two magnificent palaces facing each other: The University and thePalazzo San Giuliano.Both palaces have beautiful facades and nice inner courtyards. Don’t hesitate to enter the university to admire them.
You should definitely go to the gardens of Villa Bellini, they are ideal to enjoy a bit of freshness, take a rest or picnic. This park is open until 10 pm. You can stroll around the large trees and many fountains or simply sit on a bench in the shade. The place is very pleasant, with a children playground (in case you have kids!). Festivities, such as concerts, are regularly organized there.
You can also take advantage of the opportunity to visit Villa Bellini(if you are lucky enough to have it open).
Ursino Castle is an ancient Norman fortress that now houses theMunicipal Museum (free visit).
Originally, this castle located at the top of a hill was built on a cliff, overlooking the sea. It’s really hard to imagine, as it’s today about 1km inland!
Many earthquakes and the huge volcanic eruption of Etna in 1669 completely changed the landscapeof the area. Hopefully, the lava flows surrounded the castle without damaging it.
The castle museum houses an important archaeological collection consisting of ceramic vases, sculptures and numerous paintings.