Once overlooking the churning Mediterranean this 13th century castle was moved inland due to the massive impact of the 1669 eruption of Mt. Etna and is now situated in Piazza Federico Il di Svevia. Surrounded on all sides by an extraordinarily green moat, Castello Ursino is now home to a variety of art exhibitions as well as timeless archaeological artifacts. After roaming its vast hallways, admiring its lavish manifests, artworks, and relics, you will find reach their cozy outside terrace. This area, open to the warm sunlight that often bathes Catania year-round offers an exemplary view of the castle, as well as the colourful neighbourhoods and the snowy peak of Mt. Etna.
Church of St. Nicholas Arena
Standing proudly in the Piazza Dante Alighieri, this massive structure is attached to the ancient Benedictine Monastery. Once inside, you can view soaring ceilings, dimly lit alcoves dedicated to prayer, as well as glimmering marble fixtures and floors. You’re directed to an opening that leads to a winding staircase, scaling one of the lofty towers. Small barred windows allow you views of the impressive centre of the church. At the summit you will spot the smoky spout of Etna in the distance, view the semi-circle of animated buildings occupying the Piazza Dante, and past that you will see a stretch of gleaming blue ocean. Walking the perimeter of the roof you receive a 360-degree scope of the city and the crown-like dome that sits atop the church.
Basilica Cattedrale Sante’Agata
Positioned in the lively main square of Catania, the Basilica Cattedrale Sante’Agata sits on Via Vittorio Emmanuelle II and faces the main Cathedral of Catania. After a €3 donation to the church you are directed to a stairwell that leads first to a terrace where you can glimpse the Catholic figures that guard the salient dome, and then after another stairwell, you gain access to the circumference of the lofty rotunda. As you edge around the sides you can see the sea fog seep in through the vibrant assembly of structures below. On the horizon you’ll see the resplendent Mt. Etna, as well as the flourishing Piazza Duomo, Elephant Fountain, and surrounding Baroque architecture. From here you can see the length of the Cathedral of Catania, also dedicated to the martyred Patron Saint Agatha, who is celebrated throughout Sicily.
Museuo Diocesano Catania
Found directly beside the Cathedral of Catania and the Basilica Cattedrale Sante’Agata, this is not only a four floor museum catering to the historically hungry but also holds beautiful views of the square, the Castello Ursino, Mt. Etna, and the main shopping street of Via Etnea. Making your way through notable historic furnishings and artefacts you end your tour on a terrace, where you can enjoy an espresso and incredible sights of your surroundings. From here you can peek out over the square, see the boat-laden port, and watch the hectic life of Catania unfurl before you.
Renowned for being one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Mt. Etna is referred to by locals as the respected mother of Sicily. The park is easily accessed through a multitude of tour groups that will guide you through one of the many routes to varying peaks upon the mountain. You will likely get to traverse steep cliffs, peek into the bellies of volcanic craters, and crawl through the remnant caves caused by epic lava flows that once coursed down the mountainside. From these different peaks you will be offered an unparalleled view of not only Catania, but also the sea-side town of Taormina and neighbouring villages that give life to the many rolling hillsides.