The seaside town of Catania, Sicily is a delightful mesh of antique architecture, chic fashion districts, rambunctious market places, and rich culture that clutters every inch of it. Each sector of this historic city possesses its own distinct style, and influences that reflect in its neighborhoods. Follow our guide to uncovering the most fun and intriguing areas that burst through the crisscrossing frame of the city and come together to make Catania the wonderful city that it is.
Via Etnea entrenches you in a variety of wonderful shops, incredible cafés, and historical structures. Positied at the very core of the city, stemming from Viale Andrea Doria, this street runs the length of this area. While enjoying that Sicilian sunlight you can visit the Giardino Bellini, an immaculate garden always bustling with people lounging on its steps or running laps through its winding pathways. If you stroll down, you will find the Catania Cathedral when it intersects with Via Vittorio Emanuele II, and opens up to a wide square with beautiful Baroque architecture and significant landmarks.
Teatro Massimo Bellini
Via Giuseppe Perrotta,Via Birreria and Via Teatro Massimo meet to form a circle-shaped square called Piazza Vincenzo Bellini, after the famed composer born in Catania. Here sits the ornate and commanding theatre along with perimeter of faded buildings enclosing the area. This zone becomes a social-gathering central in the evenings. Flanked by yellow glowing bars and cafés, groups of both locals and visitors grab drinks and flock to the small pearly fountain in front the theatre. It’s equally fun to explore during the day, when you can appreciate the immaculate buildings like the Universitia degli Studi di Catania nearby, pace the shops and grab lunch at the variety of vegetarian, traditional and fast food places.
Teatro Massimo Bellini, Via Giuseppe Perrotta, 12, Catania CT, Italy
+39 095 730 6111
Piazza Carlo Alberto
All days but Sunday, this area is host to one of the largest markets of Catania from 8am to about 2 or 3pm. It boasts collections of delicious local fruits and vegetables, enticing meats and homemade cheeses. If you carry on, you can find stalls on stalls of clothing, jewelry, bags and shoes. You can locate this maze of vibrant kiosks from Via Etnea by following along Piazza Stesicoro to the left, where it becomes Via S. Gaetano alla Gratta and leads you to the market places. In the evening, this square is a quiet place but still contains enchanting edificies like the Church of Madonna of Carmelo, and other baroque-style structures.
About a 20-minute drive from the heart of Catania is the oceanside locale of Aci Castello. In this coastal section of the province, you can stroll along the Ionian Sea and admire the smooth mounds of frozen lava flows from hundreds of years ago. Indulge in big helpings of granita and brioche at local restaurants, cafés and kiosks. Explore the harbor that is usally stacked with colorfully painted skiffs and boats, or explore the medieval Castello Norman embedded within a cliff face that borders the main square of the area. Flowing with the brisk sea breeze and thronged with local life and history, Aci Castello is a must-visit part of town.
This location is positioned across from the Giardino Bellini where Via Salvator Tomaselli and Via Sant’Euplio meet Viale Regina Margherita. Although not as busy at night, it is host to a series of kiosks purveying espresso, beer and other delights. You can find delicious restaurants dolling out pizza, pasta, and other tasty traditional dishes nearby. The miniature square has a circle of benches surrounding a Vittorio Emanuele II memorial statue of him gallantly riding his steed. It is a nice place to relax and people watch, explore the book store and other close by shops, or enjoy the well trimmed greenery of the park.
Via Santa Fillomena
Runing parallel to Via Etnea, off of Corso Umberto, lies the idyllic restaurant alley named Via Santa Fillomena. This narrow street is an animated source of delicious cuisine paired with friends and family dining out together. Lined with a blend of classic and modern cuisines and paved with large, shimmering stones, this picturesque Italian path is a great place to find incredible local foods and socializing during the day or night. Its attachment to Corso Umberto also places it near their local antique movie theatre, Cinema Teatro Odeon, as well as an array of neat fashion shops.
Following along Corso Viale Regina Margherita until it becomes Corso Italia and intersects with Viale Africa, you will find a more modern sector of Catania. The baroque-style buildings begin to fade, and sleek, taller offices and apartments begin to sprout from the sidewalk. This area borders the sea and you will begin to smell the aroma of salty sea air rolling through the city streets with the breeze. Here you can either cross Viale Africa and walk along the drop-off to the crashing waves below, grab a beer from an accessible kiosk or explore the range of bright restaurants that line the opposing street.
Possibly one of the most decorated and lavishly baroque places in all of Catania is Crociferi, nearby to the Duomo Square. Heading down this cobbled stairway, you will discover a street bordered by incredible historic buildings such as the Chiesa di San Benedetto and the Chiesa di San Giuliano. Tucked away in an adjacent alley is the Catania Contemporary Museum of Art, as well as the massive and historic Teatro Romano. Via Crociferi extends to Via S. Francesco D’Assisi where you can find a number of colourful souvenir shops, museums and restaurants. Often bustling with locals and travelers, this part of town is a cultural and historical hub of the city.
Chiesa di San Benedetto, Via Teatro Greco 2, Catania CT, Italy
+39 095 715 2207
If you follow Via Etnea past Duomo Square, you will cross beneath an archway that leads to the lively alleyway that is home to the Catania fish market. Shaded by red and blue tarps, you can spectate the day-to-day energy of this sector and marvel at the fresh glimmering fish packed with ice onto booths and arranged just so. After ducking in and out of these odorous stalls, you can cross Via Cardinale Dusmet to find the charming and quaint Giardino Pacini. A trickling stream flows beneath a miniature bridge, and a patches of spruced green grass arrange a circle around various statues and plants. This is a good area to relax and enjoy the happenings around you.