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Catania, Best of the Baroque City

Catania, Best Of The Baroque City

Usually, when you hear the name Catania of Sicily, a particular recently active volcano named Mount Etna pops into your mind. Apart from the fluctuating nature of Etna, there’s much more to the city of Catania.

Catania is the second-largest city in Sicily after Palermo. It is located at the foot of Mount Etna, facing the Ionian Sea. Catania is the industrial and commercial heart of Sicily, with the largest airport in the South of Italy.

You may wonder what would fascinate a traveler seeking a bit of adventure in Catania or what distinguishes this city from its neighbor Palermo, even though Palermo has a great share of historical sites and monuments.

Catania has also been blessed with breathtaking castles, solemn churches, and bustling city life to accommodate every year’s visitors. In this article, we will learn more about how to get to Catania, what to do when you get there, and how to make sure you absorb all of the city’s charms.

So, let’s get to it!

How do I get to Catania?

  1. Fly in:

Catania-Fontanarossa Airport, also known as Vincenzo Bellini Airport is the busiest airport in Sicily. There’s an organized shuttle service that would take you, for a ticket of 4 Euros, to the city centre or the train station. You can buy your ticket at the airport or on board the shuttle itself. It is valid for 90 minutes and you have to validate it in the electronic ticket machine on the bus.

  1. Ferry boat:

You can use the ferry to get to Catania from other cities like Salerno or Valletta. The ferry ride is quite long, and you must book it in advance. One trip from Salerno to Catania can take up to 13 hours. You have to have the time and be up for the ride. You can use a website called Direct Ferries to compare prices, companies, and routes to choose your best option.

  1. Taxi services:

There’s an authorized taxi service in Catania called Radio Taxi Catania, and it’s advisable to use it to avoid being scammed or asked for more than the trip should cost.

  1. Rent a Car service:

To facilitate getting around during your stay in Catania you might like to rent a car. No worries, there are three major car renting companies that you can choose from; Sixt, Budget and Hertz. Another renowned company is Avis rental company which is located near the Catania International Airport Hotel.

  1. Rent a Bus Service:

If you’re a group traveling together through Catania, renting a bus instead of a car is a more than convenient way to explore the city and enjoy your stay. You can check with Rent Autobus for the best options for you and your companions.

What Catania has to Wow You With!

Many people compare Catania and Palermo, thinking both cities are the same. Even though Italian cities can seem similar, they are never the same. Catania is a city where you can enjoy the tales of history during the day and get entangled in its bustling nightlife later in the day.

Or you can even aim for a bit of adventure by joining a hiking trip to the top of the highest active volcano in Europe; Mount Etna. If you’re in need of some relaxation time, you can relax on Isola Bella Island or try the local dishes for some satisfaction.

Shall we explore some of Catania’s gems together?

  1. Parco Archeologico Greco-Romano di Catania:

Despite the numerous monuments in Catania, there are more hidden beneath the city itself. The city was covered by lava more than ten times during its lifetime. The Roman city that preceded Catania is buried underneath it, and underneath that is the Greek city that lived before. In this archaeological park in the city centre, you can see some of the ancient remains of both Roman and Greek towns.

  1. Cattedrale di Sant’Agata (Cathedral of Saint Agatha):

Located in Piazza Duomo, this Roman Catholic Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Agatha. It was reduced to ruins several times following devastating earthquakes and eruptions of the nearby Mount Etna. After its most destructive event, the cathedral was rebuilt in Baroque style.

Catania Cathedral (Duomo)

It’s worth mentioning that the cathedral is built on the ruins of the ancient Roman Achillean Baths. The two towers and the three semicircular apses; composed of large lava stones, are remains of the original structure.

  1. Fontana dell’Elefante (The Elephant):

They are also known as u’Liotru. The elephant; the symbol of the city of Catania, is carved from basalt and is located right in front of the cathedral. It is said that the elephant points its trunk in the direction of the cathedral so as to pay respect to the city’s patron; St. Agatha. The elephant is topped by an Egyptian obelisk from Syene.

A mysterious legend says that u’Liotru refers to a nobleman named Heliodorus who’d previously tried to become bishop of the city. After his attempts failed, he decided to become a sorcerer and was condemned to burn on the stake.

Legend says that Heliodorus himself was the sculptor of the elephant, and he used to ride it from Catania to Constantinople. Another legend says that Heliodorus used to transform himself into an elephant.

  1. Teatro Romano di Catania (Greek-Roman Theater of Catania and Odeon):

It mainly consists of the ruins of two open-air semicircular Ancient Roman theaters located in Via Vittoria Emanuele at the center of the city of Catania. The larger of the two, Teatro Romano, has an open-air orchestra pit that would fit around 7,000 people.

Teatro Odeon, the smaller one, is about half the size of Teatro Romano and is still used for live shows and music shows today. Both theaters follow the common design of most Roman theaters, with the spectators facing south and towards the sea.

  1. Amphitheatre of Catania:

Only a tiny section of the Roman Imperial era amphitheatre, below ground level to the north of Piazza Stesicoro. It is also part of the Parco Archeologico Greco-Romano di Catania. Despite the existence of several amphitheatres in Catania, this one is by far the largest. It consists of a group of large arenas that also include the Colosseum, the Amphitheatre of Capua and the Verona Arena.

The amphitheatre was constructed using different building techniques, with opus vittatum for the interior and opus quadratum for the exterior. The cavea was made of basalt from Mount Etna, faced with marble. However, the outside walls indicate some degree of carelessness in construction, as the building blocks seem to have been cut irregularly.

The recent structure suffers from instability due to early modern excavations. This led the parliament to declare that the building is in danger of collapsing. In 2014, an expert board was established with the sole purpose of organizing the recuperation of the monument and protecting the neighborhood that’s grown on top of the amphitheater over the years.

  1. San Francesco d’Assisi all’Immacolata:

The first Franciscan Roman church in Catania, since its construction, was supported by Queen Eleanor of Anjou, wife of Frederick II of Aragon and sister of the Franciscan monk and bishop St. Louis of Toulouse. The church was destroyed by a devastating earthquake in 1693 and later rebuilt in the 17th century. Vincenzo Bellini was born adjacent to this church in the Palazzo Gravina-Cruyllas, now a civic museum dedicated to the composer.

  1. Statua Cardinale Beato Dusmet (The Monument to the Blessed Giuseppe Dusmet):

This statue is between San Francesco’s church and the Palazzo Gravina-Cruyllas (Museo Belliniano) on Piazza San Francesco d’Assisi. Cardinal Giuseppe Benedetto Dusmet, the former archbishop of Catania, was admired for his dedication to charity and helping the poor. The monument’s base has four reliefs that depict acts of charity, one of which shows the cardinal with Mount Etna in the background.

  1. Museo Civico Belliniano (The Museum of Vincenzo Bellini):

One of Sicily’s most iconic composers was born in this building, now a museum showcasing many of his belongings. The museum contains photographs, autographed manuscripts, personal belongings such as his death mask, and two pianos. The building was damaged by the 1693 Sicily earthquake, only to be rebuilt in the 18th century. The most recent modification was the addition of a fourth floor. The house was declared a museum by 1930, and entrance is free.

  1. Monastery of San Nicolò l’Arena:

Facing Piazza Dante, Monastero dei Benedettini di San Nicolò l’Arena has a surreal Baroque appearance because it is unfinished. Although construction began in 1687, these efforts came to a halt because of the 1693 earthquake. Reconstruction might’ve begun in the 17th century, but the façade was never finished.

Now, it has half-completed columns that are filled with holes meant to hold affix marble facing. The building is currently used by the Department of Humanities of Catania University. For 7 E, you can take a guided tour to look over from the balcony of San Nicolò l’Arena Churh’s main altar.

  1. Santa Agata al Carcere (Saint Agatha at the Prison):

It is a Roman Catholic church and is one of three nearly adjacent churches venerating St. Agatha of Sicily in the neighborhood, the other two being Sant’Agata alla Fornace and Sant’Agata la Vetere. Like most of the city of Catania, the church was razed by the 1693 earthquake, but the portal of the church survived and was moved, at first, to the Senatorial palace and then to this particular building in the middle of the 18th century.

As the name suggests, this is where St. Agatha was imprisoned during her martyrdom. The façade faces the apse of the church of Sant’Agata alla Fornace, which was built in the same spot of the furnace where Saint Agatha miraculously survived cremation. On 3 February to 5th of each year, a half-bust of Agatha studded with jewels is paraded across the city during the Festival of Saint Agatha.

  1. San Biagio:

Once known as Sant’Agata alla Fornace or La Fornace, it is a neoclassical architecture, Roman Catholic Church and is dedicated to St. Blaise. It overlooks a portion of the Ancient Roman Amphitheater, and behind the apse are two other churches that venerate St. Agatha of Sicily.

Two churches existed in the area at the beginning, one dedicated to St. Blaise and the other presumably built on the ruins of the furnace from which St. Agatha escaped. Later, after the 1693 earthquake, the two parishes joined.

  1. San Benedetto:

It is a church dedicated to Saint Benedict of Nursia and has a late Baroque architecture style. As it is with most of the buildings in Catania, the first church was damaged following the 1693 earthquake. The church was rebuilt by 1714 but construction of the monastery continued until 1763.

During the Second World War, bombs damaged the church, which was restored by the architect Armand Dillon. The broken pediment of the tympanum is decorated by two reclining allegorical female statues representing Fortitude and Temperance. The entrance door is made of wood and has panels with scenes from the life of St. Benedict.

The church’s most famous feature is the Angel’s Staircase, or Scalinata dell’Angelo, a marble entrance staircase decorated with statues of angels and surrounded by wrought iron railings. The Church of San Benedetto is open on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

  1. Basilica della Colleggiata:

Also known as The Ancient Royal and Eminent Basilica Collegiate of Our Lady of the Alms, it is an example of Sicilian Baroque. Although the church was first established in the early Middle Ages, it was rebuilt and elevated to a collegiate church by Pope Eugenius IV. The church’s façade, a clear example of the late Baroque in Catania, was designed by the Polish architect Stefano Ittar.

  1. San Camillo dei Mercedari:

Also known as San Camillo de Lellis, named after the saint it pays tribute to, is a Roman Catholic Church in the piazza of the same name. It is one of four major baroque church-monasteries on the same street. These churches are San Francesco Borgia, San Giuliano, and San Benedetto. On its door, there’s the red cross of the Camillan order, which signifies that it is dedicated to ministering to the sick.

  1. Santa Chiara:

It is a Roman Catholic Church with a monastery behind it that houses a gallery of modern art. A convent adopted the site in 1563 after nuns of the Clarissan order established themselves in that building in the 16th century. After the 1693 Sicily earthquake, the church and convent were completed by 1760.

  1. San Francesco Borgia:

It is a church parallel to San Benedetto and is used mainly now for exhibits, yet it still holds much of the original Jesuit artwork. The original church was finished by 1578, and after the 1693 earthquake, the new baroque church was built on the site of the Ascension church, which was completed by 1736.

Since 1995, the building has been used by the region’s cultural offices and houses a regional library. The church is now deconsecrated and is used for cultural activities by Soprintendenza Regionale ai Beni Culturali or The Regional Superintendence for Cultural Heritage.

  1. San Gaetano alle Grotte:

The substructure of this church is said to have been a burial chapel in a lava cave used as a cistern and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The church was actually built atop this presumably burial chapel in the 7th century. The Norman rulers restored the church, adding the large columns of the upper presbytery. After the 1693 earthquake, the church was restored throughout the 18th century, and later, another restoration took place in 1958.

  1. Santuario della Madonna del Carmine:

Also called Basilica di Maria Santissima Annunziata al Carmine, it is another Roman Catholic church that was said to have been built on the ruins of multiple temples. Successively, there used to be a pagan temple dedicated to Jove, and then the first church was built on its ruins.

After an earthquake in 1075, another church was built and dedicated to the Virgin of the Annunciation. Following the earthquake of 1693, the church was rebuilt by 1729. It was elevated to minor basilica in 1988. Legend has it that the church was once the first burial place of Saint Agatha.

  1. San Gaetano alla Marina:

The present-day church, which is close to the former port of Catania, was built after the 1693 earthquake. Prior to that, the site had a church dedicated to St Thomas of Canterbury and a monastery dedicated to San Giuliano, which became a hospital dedicated to San Marco.

  1. San Giuliano:

This church is located on Via Crocifero #36 of Catania and is dedicated to St Julian the Hospitaller. Like many of Catania’s churches, it was built on the remains of a previous church that was demolished by the 1693 earthquake.

  1. Santa Maria di Gesù:

The site of the present church used to hold a small chapel attached to a convent of Franciscans in the 14th century. The church, erected in 1442, acquired many artworks, including a Madonna and Child sculpture by Antonello Gagini.

  1. Santa Maria dell’Indirizzo:

This is a deconsecrated church now located in the pizza of the same name in the center of Catania. Behind the apse of the church are some ruins of former Ancient Roman baths.

  1. Chiesa della Purità:

This former deconsecrated Roman Catholic Church functions as the auditorium for the Faculty of Jurisprudence of the University of Catania.

  1. Santa Maria della Rotonda:

This church was built on the remains of the Roman Baths of Rotonda during the Byzantine era. The church’s walls are still covered in medieval and baroque frescoes. The church was damaged in the 1943 bombing, and works were carried out during the 1940s—1950s to repair the damage. Many of the frescos that covered the walls of Santa Maria della Rotonda were removed during restoration activities directed by Guido Libertini.

  1. Santa Maria dell’Aiuto:

The church, once named Santissimi Pietro e Paolo, was renamed Santa Maria dell’Aiuto when a revered icon of the Virgin was moved inside. After the rebuilding of the church following the 1963 earthquake, the statue of the Virgin was situated above the polychrome marble altar.

  1. San Martino dei Bianchi:

The current late Baroque-style façade of the church was built in the 18th century on the remains of a prior church of the lay confraternity, which used to provide comfort and burial assistance to those condemned to death.

  1. San Michele Arcangelo ai Minoriti:

The monastery attached to the church now houses the offices of the Provincial government and the Prefettura or Prefecture. An old order of priests and brothers were assigned the old church that once stood in the place of San Michele Arcangelo ai Minoriti, they were mainly dedicated to the care of the infirm and needy. After 1693 the old church, which was dedicated to St Michael Arcangel, the minorities commissioned a new church and monastery.

  1. San Placido:

The former Benedictine monastery serves as the Archivio di Stato di Catania (State Archives of Catania), while part of the convent occupied by the Palazzo della Cultura is used nowadays for cultural activities and exhibitions. This church and monastery are rumored to have been built on the ruins of an old Roman temple of Bacchus.

Legend also says that it was the place where Saint Agatha was born. San Placido is one of many churches and monasteries for nuns that suffered great losses due to the 1693 earthquake. The three surviving nuns from the earthquake were able to get work started on a new church by 1723. The monastery was suppressed in 1873.

  1. Santa Rita in San’Agostino:

Once, this church was known as Sant’Agostino, except in the 20th century, when it became a sanctuary dedicated to Santa Rita of Cascia. Initially, it was dedicated to St. James (San Giacomo). After all the monks died of the plague, all the monastery’s contents were burnt.

Another monastery was built by 1637, only to be destroyed by the 1693 earthquake. Many of the reconstructions were also destroyed by the 1818 earthquake. There are many altarpieces in Santa Rita, such as Charity of St Thomas of Villanova by Giuseppe Zacco.

  1. Santa Teresa:

Also known as Santa Teresa del Bambino Gesú, it was not built in its present form until after the 1693 earthquake. Initially, a Roman Catholic parish church and Discalced Carmelite were located at the church of Santa Spirito outside town, which was destroyed to enhance the city’s defenses against the moving French army.

  1. Santissima Trinità (Holiest Trinity):

Now a science high school, this Roman Catholic Church has a late Baroque style. The church’s current location was not initiated until the 18th century, when the Benedictine nuns moved there after the 1693 earthquake. Some notable art pieces are inside Santissima Trinità, such as a Baptism of Jesus by Olivio Sozzi, which is housed by the first alter on the right.

  1. Conservatorio delle Verginelle di Sant’Agata (Conservatory of the Young Virgins of St. Agatha):

An esteemed building currently serves the Faculty of Scienza della Formazione of the University of Catania, which is responsible for the education of future science teachers. The present building was not established until around 1720, before it was a conservatory of the same name noted in 1586, which aimed at providing for poor young abandoned girls.

  1. Sant’Agata al Borgo:

The Borgo is one of the four original districts of Catania. The church was built at the beginning to care for the villagers displaced by the eruption of Aetna in 1669. Rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake, another earthquake shook the people of Catania in 1908. Feeling the tremors of the quake, the city’s people led a procession that started from this church with the veil of Saint Agatha to thank the patron saint for sparing their town from the earthquake.

  1. Sant’Agata la Vetere:

It is one of several churches in Catania paying tribute to Saint Agatha of Sicily. Not far from Sant’Agata la Vetere are the churches of Sant’Agata al Carcere and Sant’Agata alla Fornace, now known as San Biagio.

Many stories surround Sant’Agata la Vetere. One story says it was the place where Saint Agatha was placed on trial. Another says that her relics were supposedly brought there in the 8th century when the area was used for burials. The current church was rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake, while the roof collapsed after an earthquake in 1818.

  1. Badia di Sant’Agata (Abbey of St. Agatha):

This Baroque-style Roman Catholic Church is across the street from the left side of the Cathedral of Catania. Like many churches in Catania, it was established on the ruins of a previous church that was razed by the 1693 earthquake.

Reconstruction of the church was slow, the façade finished in 1742 while the dome was completed by 1768. Another time the church was damaged was due to the 1990 earthquake, after which the reconstruction repairs were only finished in 2021. Abbey of St. Agatha is dedicated to Saint Agatha, much like dozens of other churches in Catania.

Catania’s Castles and Palaces

If walking through history is your favourite leisure time activity, you can visit any of Catania’s majestic palaces and castles.

  1. Castello Ursino:

Also known as Castello Svevo di Catania, it is a 13th-century royal castle that is now a museum. Originally built as one of Emperor Fredrick II’s royal castles, it was used as a prison after losing its military role. It is one of the few buildings to have survived the 1693 earthquake.

Panorama of the Castello Ursino, also known as Castello Svevo di Catania

The museum within the castle houses many artefacts from the castle itself and the surrounding geographical area. The mainly archeologic collections of the fifth Prince of Biscari, Ignazio Paternò Castello, are on display in Castello Ursino. This beautiful castle is also used, in recent days, for art exhibitions, but the opportunity to use it to tie the knot is the most romantic thing to do.

  1. Palazzo degli Elefanti (Elephant’s Palace):

Is the current house of Catania’s City Hall. Remember u’Liotru or Fontana dell’Elefante? The Elephant’s Palace was built in 1696 after the shocking earthquake of 1693. In 1736, the black lava stone statue of the elephant was erected in the centre of Piazza del Duomo, of which the main façade of the palace faces its northern side. The second floor of the palace displays several sizeable historical oil paintings.

  1. Palazzo Biscari:

This palace was built after the destructive earthquake of 1693. Construction began with the third Prince of Biscari and ended with his son’s nephew, the fifth Prince of Biscari, who completed the decorations in 1763. The palace is open for guided tours and social and cultural events.

  1. Palazzo Tezzano:

This palace was once a hospital from 1720 to 1727, which faced many economic difficulties, and parts of the building were subsequently rented out in 1837 and 1844. The complete move of the hospital status and facilities from the building was done by 1880. This late Baroque-style palace was house to the General Court till 1953. Nowadays, the palace houses the Ceramographic Archive of the University of Catania.

  1. Palazzo Paternò del Toscano:

Also known as Palazzo del Toscano, it is currently used by many schools, shops and for cultural programs, even some of its rooms were used as movie sets in recent decades. Buildings began after the deadly earthquake of 1693 in the 18th century, and were only finished by 1873.

  1. Palazzo delle Poste:

This new Baroque-style building might have the status of a palace, but it still houses postal offices in Catania. It is one of the most recent palaces built in the city, with construction beginning in 1922 and ending in 1930.

  1. Teatro Massimo Bellini:

A majestic Sicilian Baroque-style opera house dedicated to Catania’s famous composer Vincenzo Bellini. The theater’s foundation was laid in 1812, but construction took almost 200 years.

For more than once, construction works came to a halt due to funding problems until a municipal committee decided that the structure of the building was to be a single-purpose opera house dedicated to Bellini. From there, construction works went on smoothly till the opera’s opening in May 1890. The building’s painted ceiling exhibits four of Bellini’s most famous operas.

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Catania: A Nature Escape

Catania’s landscape might seem full of prestigious churches, except that this is only a fraction of what this beautiful city can offer you during your holiday. If you’re seeking adventure and edge, you can select from a different array of activities involving Mount Etna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013 and the largest of the three active volcanos in Italy.

It is worth mentioning that while it might seem scary, Mount Etna provides immense benefits for the area’s agriculture. Vineyards and orchards cover many of the mountain’s slopes and the broad plain of Catania to the south.

  1. Join a hiking trip to the top of Mount Etna:

Suppose you’re a hiking enthusiast or want to immerse yourself in the beautiful nature around this mighty volcano. You can book a hiking trip that will do more than test your endurance. You can catch a bus from the Catania Railway Station for around 7 Euros that will take you to the mountain base in a one-hour ride.

You can explore the old craters, spot ancient lava flows or pay up to 30 E for a cable car to take you to the crater zone. You can also venture to explore the botanic garden of Giardino Botanico “Nuova Gussonea” which replicates the entire volcano’s plant environment.

  1. Etna Jeep Tours:

If you want to enjoy the beautiful nature of the Etna reserve without the hassle of a hike, you can book a jeep tour that will take you all the way from your hotel. You will get to witness the remains of lava flows that once threatened entire villages, and you can experience the thrill of descending into a lava tube, a lava flow cave.

  1. Book a trip with a volcano-logical guide:

Some travel agencies allow you to explore Mount Etna with a volcano-logical guide. A commute will take you from your hotel door, followed by a trip in the cable car to reach the top. Then you will go on foot for about 2 hours with occasional stops until you finally get the summit.

  1. A romantic sunset half-day tour:

Another special trip that allows you to watch the mesmerizing sunset from Mount Etna can last about 6 hours. After exploring some of the old craters and lava flows, you will get to watch the sunset in the most romantic atmosphere. On your way back, you will head to a local farm to taste local goods such as honey and wine.

Gardens of Catania

If you fancy the beautiful organization of flowers and plants, you can visit one of the three central gardens in Catania.

  1. Orto Botanico dell’Università di Catania:

This botanical garden is a member of BGCI, or Botanic Gardens Conservation International. It is operated by the Department of Botany at the University of Catania. The idea of a botanical garden was first discussed in 1847, but the foundation of today’s garden was laid in 1858, with the first plantings set in 1862.

During the Second World War the central garden was damaged but was renewed in the following years. The garden is divided into two main parts: the Hortus Generalis which collects mainly exotic plants, and the Hortus Siculus which cultivates Sicilian species.

  1. Giardino Botanico (Nuova Gussonea):

This new botanic garden was established in 1979 and inaugurated in 1981 due to an agreement between the Directorate General of Forests of the Sicilian Region and the University of Catania. It is located on the Southern side of Mount Etna, at an altitude of 1,700 meters, in area B in Etna Natural Park.

  1. Giardino Bellini:

Also known as Villa Bellini or Bellini Garden, it is the oldest urban park in Catania. Until 1854, it was a garden maze that once housed swans, geese, deer, cows, and monkeys.

Catania’s Mesmerizing Beaches

If you desire to escape the city and lose yourself along the waves of the Mediterranean Sea, you can head to one of two very distinguished monuments overlooking this vast sea.

  1. Aci Castello:

This Norman-style castle has a town developed around it in 1076 and is located 9 kilometres north of Catania on the Mediterranean coast. The castle has a museum inside which displays archaeological remains dating back from prehistoric to medieval times. One of the landmarks included in Aci Castello is the Church of St. Joseph, which is home to many beautiful frescos.

  1. The Isola Bella Island (Taormina):

You can catch a bus from the Terminal Interbus – Etna Transport from the centre of Catania to the hilltop town of Taormina. In Taormina, you can explore the remains of Greek structures that survived throughout the years and were left by those who first arrived at the island in 734 BC. From atop the town, you can enjoy the views of Mount Etna and the Mediterranean Sea.

Ancient Greek Ruins in Taormina-Catania

Sunbathing on the shore of Isola Bella is the most relaxing pastime. Isola Bella is a small island near Taormina, which was proclaimed a nature reserve after being bought by the Region of Sicily. It is administered by the Italian branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature. Isola Bella is home to many species of birds and a few types of lizards.

Festivals in Catania

As with most Italian cities, Catania has its share of yearly festivals that are not to be missed if you’re ever going to be in the city. Religious, musical and food festivals in Catania will, without a doubt, pull you into the atmosphere of this Mediterranean city.

  1. Festa di San’Agata (February 3rd to 5th and 12th and August 17th):

Saint Agatha, the patron saint of Catania, is celebrated every year with a month’s worth of preparation before the festival begins. It is the world’s third religious festival for the faithful’s participation. While her martyrdom is celebrated in February, the return of her remains from Constantinople is celebrated in August.

The procession goes through the places of martyrdom and the oldest road layout of the city with the use of a candelore. These beautifully decorated candlesticks are carried by believers and devotees. The magnificent fireworks that mark the festival’s end are a reminder that Saint Agatha is always there looking over the fire of Etna and the people of the city of Catania.

  1. Festa di Sant’Alfio (End of April):

The village of Sant’Alfio, located on the slopes of Mount Etna, celebrates three saints: St. Alfio, Saints Cirinus, and Philadelphus. This festival attracts a large number of faithful.

  1. Festa di Sant’Alfio, Cherry Festival Edition:

You can choose a villa online in Sant’Alfio to participate in this delicious festival. Since the weather in this village is a Mediterranean one, it is the perfect environment for growing high-quality cherries. This festival allows all producers to showcase their products in the charming town. The Etna cherry is one of the products of excellence in Catania. This festival is also decorated by music shows and colourful floral exhibitions, forming a carpet of petal mosaic.

  1. Carnival (February – March):

Every year during this period, Acireale starts celebrating. This carnival is a complete show, with wagons, floats, parades, and masks that surprise its visitors. It is one of the most famous carnivals in Sicily and Italy.

  1. Pistachio Festival (Last weekend of September and first weekend of October):

The so-called “Green Gold” of Sicily, pistachio, is celebrated at the Bronte Pistachio Festival. Pistachio is used in everything, not just ice creams, but in creams, even making pesto. Typical local products are displayed, and cooking shows, handiworks, and live music shows take place to entertain the audience.

  1. Etna Wine Festival (End of August – Beginning of September):

In the town of Milo, the Sagra dei Vini dell’Etna takes place. This festival attracts thousands of tourists every year interested in good food and good wine. The best Sicilian wineries come together to decorate the beautiful city centre of Catania in a marvellous celebration.

  1. Catania Jazz Festival (Winter season):

This Jazz festival includes concerts in different locations throughout the city. In the late 1980s and 1990s, Catania had a growing musical scene. Many indie pop and indie rock bands came into existence, which led to the birth of independent music labels.

  1. Natività della Beata Vergine Maria (December 8th):

On this day, local people carry the saint’s statue through the main streets of Catania.

  1. Catania Tango Festival (9 days in August):

For those in love with Tango or those who wish to start taking dance lessons in this unique style, this festival is the best place to start. For nine days, many events and workshops are set up with the sole purpose of teaching and practising Tango.

Italians flock to the city on these days to enjoy this favourite dance. The festival is held in three areas, Romano Palace Hotel that also hosts competitions between dancers, Lido Azzurro Beach where regular visitors can dance the tango, and Royal Hotel that hosts fabulous performances and shows.

Catania’s Cuisine

Wandering about the city of Catania or the nearby towns and villages, you will most certainly feel hungry and thirsty. Some local markets are worth a visit, even if you’re casually browsing through the city, and some regional dishes are worth the try. How about we have a look at those?

  1. The Fish Market (Behind the Cathedral of Catania):

The cries of the sellers of all sorts of fish, meat and vegetables will draw your attention to this market. It takes place on a display of marble counters. Exploring this market is one way to get closer to the everyday life of the people of Catania and their culture.

  1. The Kiosks of Catania:

As the name explains, these kiosks are located everywhere in Catania and the drinking method; “u cioscu” meaning “at the kiosk” is one of the most distinguishable habits of people in Catania. To name a few of the places where these kiosks stand, there are ones at Piazza Roma, Piazza Cavour, and Piazza della Borsa.

The ingredients of the drinks are always the same: sugar, fruits, cups, measuring cups, and presses to squeeze the citrus fruits. Nowadays, sparkling water from the slopes of Mount Etna is added to mineral water along with syrups and soda water.

  1. Pasta alla Norma:

Is one of Catania’s signature cuisines. This vegetarian dish is mainly made of fusilli or rigatoni pasta tossed in tomatoes, basil, sautéed eggplant and topped with a cheesy goodness of salty ricotta cheese. The best thing about pasta alla norma is that it is served in almost any restaurant in Catania. It is said that this dish was named after Vincenzo Bellini’s opera.

One more thing: if you love shopping, Catania is the perfect place for you. You can find boutique shops on via Etnea, such as Camula, as well as hypermarkets, such as Porte di Catania and Centro Commerciale Grandecina Catania, all around the city.

So, have I convinced you to come to Catania yet?

This post first appeared on Travel Blog, Culture And Travel Vlogs From ConnollyCove, please read the originial post: here

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Catania, Best of the Baroque City