Catania is a city located on the eastern coast of Sicily at the foot of Mount Etna, the biggest volcano in Europe. It is the second largest city in Sicily with the metropolitan area reaching one million inhabitants, a major transport hub, economic centre and a university city where you will enjoy a busy downtown and an active nightlife. Catania is also well known for its particular baroque architecture and urban design (the downtown area is a World Heritage Site, along with all the Val di Noto area), consequences of the great earthquake of 1693 after which the city had to be rebuilt, like most of eastern Sicily.
The city has a history dating back 2,700 years, dominated by several different cultures (Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Spanish, etc.) and was a rich commercial centre, mainly due to its port. Again, since the 1970's, the city economy is growing as the urban area and the suburbs, making Catania a large metropolitan centre, mainly between the volcano and the sea. Today, even if you can find there most of the biggest commercial centers in Europe (especially Etnapolis), the old 17th century downtown area is still the center of the day-to-day life.
Catania is situated under the most major currently active volcano in Europe and has been destroyed many times in the past. As a result, Catania is a city where you can find a great variety of landscape and architecture, a lot of dirty buildings and also a lot of abandoned houses, especially in the mountains. However, since the city is a World Heritage Site, a lot of renovations have been made.
Today, you will feel in Catania a mix of nostalgia and joie de vivre, especially at night or during festivals.
The major feature of this city is its architecture, which is predominantly baroque. The major characteristic of Baroque architectural is its theatricality. This style dominated Europe in the 17th century as a result of the reformation/counter-reformation where the statement given was one of grandeur. The preceding style was Renaissance, while the succeeding was Neoclassicism. The three major features are a near excessive amount of detail (statues, lots of gold, columns and pilasters, garlands and wreaths etc.), façades which are taller than the nave (to fool the viewer of the size) and frescoes often featuring trompe-l'œil. Baroque from Catania has several unique features such as use of dark lava stone (basalt), the Bell in the façade itself and grotesque masks and putti.
- 1 Bureau Turismo, via Vittorio Emanuele II, 172, ☎ , toll-free: 800 841 042, e-mail: email@example.com. M-Sa 8:00-19:15, Su 8:30-13:30. The Tourist Bureau of the city.
- Info point of the province of Catania at the via Etnea.
- Catania Pass. The city of Catania promotes a tourist bundle which combines a transport pass for the city with some discounts to a handful of the city's museums. See yourself if you need one of them: Museo Civico "Castello Ursino", Museo Belliniano, Museo Emilio Greco, Museo Diocesano and Terme Achilliane are free, plus Monastero dei Benedettini is €4 instead of €7. Personal: 24h €12,50, 72h €16,50, 120h (5 days) € 20,00.
Sicilian used to be the common language here for centuries, as the Sicilian culture is isolated on an island. Even in Catania, you will notice Italian and Sicilian (as Palermo, Catania has its own dialect) in some neighborhoods, especially in inner areas, while most people speak mainly Italian in the city center.
- 1 Catania-Fontanarossa Airport (CTA IATA Vincenzo Bellini Airport), ☎ . The airport is on the coast 5 km (3.1 mi) south of central Catania. There are frequent flights to Rome FCO; other domestic destinations include Bastia, Bologna, Genoa, Milan, Naples, Perugia, Pisa, Turin, Venice and Verona. International destinations (some seasonal) include Barcelona, Berlin, Bucharest, Madrid, Malta (frequent), Manchester, Paris and Stuttgart. The terminal has a coffee-shop, two restaurants and two shops, money exchange and ATMs. There's a TIC on the ground floor of Arrivals (+39 095 723 96 82; Mon-Sat 8 am to 7.15 pm); also car hire. The airport hotel is 200 m north.
The simplest way to reach central Catania is on the Alibus, ☎ , toll-free: 800 018696. This bus runs daily 5.30 am to midnight, every 25 mins. From the airport to city centre and railway station takes 20-25 mins. €4 (available on board, valid 90 min. including urban bus lines).
Because the airport is so close, the inter-city buses running to Catania also call here, so you can usually get a direct connection: see listings below. Buses to nearby towns and villages (run by AST) mostly don't call here, so you'll have to go downtown to change. However the local buses to Donnalucata, Modica and Carlentini do call here, as the airport happens to be on the route.
The transport hub of Catania is the big roundabout Piazza Papa Giovanni XXIII (that's "Pope John 23rd" for non-Latins). The metro station is right here, the main railway station is just south, and just north is the sprawling bus station 2 Stazione AST. The main bus terminal is S side of Via Archimede. Coach parking lots stretch two blocks east and up to Via D'Amico. Here at # 181 to 187 (corner with Viale della Libertà) are several travel agencies and ticket offices, if you can't find what you're looking for at the station.
The main bus companies running from here are:
- A.S.T. (Azienda Siciliana Trasporti), ☎ . These run from the city to nearby small towns including Acireale, Caltagirone, Carlentini, Grammichele, Lentini, Modica, Nicolosi for Mount Etna, and Siracusa. They don't run to Taormina.
- Interbus, Via D'Amico 187, ☎ . These run from city & airport to Taormina and Giardini Naxos (every couple of hours, 90 mins), Messina (one per day, 4 hours), Ragusa (frequent, 2 hours) and Siracusa (frequent, 70 mins). Also to Agira, Avola, Catenuova, Leonforte, Nicosia, Nissoria, Noto, Pachino, Portopalo, Priolo, and Regalbuto.
- SAIS Trasporti, Via D'Amico, 181, ☎ . These make overnight runs from city and airport to Bari (8 hrs), Naples (9 hrs), and Rome (10 hrs). They also run frequent buses across Sicily via Caltanissetta and Canicattì to Agrigento.
- SAIS Autolinee, 181 Via D'Amico, ☎ . These run from city and airport to Enna (6 per day, 75 min), Messina (hourly, 2 hrs) and Palermo (hourly, 2 hrs 30). At Messina they connect with buses by Giuntabus Trasporti  to Milazzo, the ferry port for the Aeolian Islands.
Trains run roughly hourly along the east coast via Taormina-Giardini to Messina (90 mins to 2 hrs). Three of these per day are direct services to Naples (7-8 hours) and Rome (10 hours), via the Straits ferry. Five trains per day run inland via Enna (1 hour) to Palermo (3 hours). 12 trains a day run south to Syracuse (one hour); two of these connect with onward trains to Pozzallo (2 hrs 30). A scenic route runs inland once a day to Caltagirone.
- 3 Catania Centrale, Piazza Papa Giovanni XXIII (10 minutes walk east from the city centre). Left luggage service is not available at the station. Luggage storage service is operated by a private company in their city-centre store, Atripical, piazza duca di Genova, 6
Most travellers from mainland Italy will use the 20 minute shuttle between Villa San Giovanni and Messina. A car ferry also runs every night between Naples and Catania: it's run by TTT lines and takes 12 hours. Other ferries sail from the mainland to Palermo.
A car ferry runs twice a day between Pozzallo (60 km south of Catania) and Valletta, Malta. It's run by Virtu Ferries and takes one hour 45 mins, return fare 80 euros low season rising to 160 euros mid-summer. Day-trips are possible from Malta every day, and from Sicily on Wednesday and Friday. On Friday, Saturday and Monday there's a connecting coach between Catania and Pozzallo. This is timed for day-trips from Malta, so if you want to day-trip from Sicily you need to make your own way to Pozzallo.
Catania has a compact centre and it is most convenient just to walk around.
To reach outlying accommodation or the university, you'll need the bus, run by AMT (Azienda Metropolitana Trasporti Catania). Use their interactive map to find bus lines. Single €1 (valid 90 min.), Bus+Alibus €4, Bus+Metro €1.20 (valid 120 min.), Day pass €2.50 (bus only).
Ferrovia Circumetnea (FCE)  is a narrow-gauge railway that loops around the west side of Etna then back to the coast and mainline at Riposto, 28 km north of Catania. The main stops are at Paterno, Adrano, Bronte, Randazzo and Giarre. Trains run from Catania approx every 30 mins Mon-Sat as far as Adrano, but in winter only one or two per day will complete the circuit to Riposto. (Summer 2018 timetables are not yet posted.) The terminus in Catania is Borgo, with a metro connection to the main railway station and downtown.
Visitors are only likely to use the metro to make that connection. It's probably the shortest metro in the world, just under 9 km long, and it's run by the same company. The line starts from Stesicoro in midtown Catania, runs east to the transport hub of Giovanni XXIII, then turns west. Get off at Borgo for the Circumetnea railway. The metro line currently ends at the suburb of Nesima: an extension west to Misterbianco is due to open some time in 2018. The metro runs Mon-Sat from 6:50 am to 9 pm every 10-15 mins; no service Sundays. Single ticket €1 (valid 90 min), Bus+Metro €1.20 (valid 120 min), Day pass €2 (metro only).
Driving in the centre is difficult because of congestion, one-way systems and pedestrianised areas. There are ten main parking lots around the city, and a slew of others serving the airport.
World Heritage Sites
- 1 Piazza del Duomo. An attractive, lively baroque square. Here you can find the Fontana dell'Elefante (Elephant Fountain) or U Liotru - the symbol of the city. 3 building located there are World Heritage Sites. The square is also an entrance to the elegant via Etnea, the main shopping street.
- 2 Cattedrale di Sant'Agata (Duomo), Piazza del Duomo. M-Sa 7.00-12.00, 16.00-19.00; Su 7.30-12.00, 16.30-19.00. An imposing cathedral, well worth visiting. Also see for Terme Achilliane and Museo Diocesano which are located there.
- 3 Museo Diocesano (Diocesan Museum), Via Etnea 8, ☎ . M W F 9:00-14:00, Tu Th 9:00-14:00, 15:00-18:00, Sa 9:00-13:00. The collection of the museum contains various religious artefacts from the Cathedral and some other churches around. It's ticket office also sells tickets to the Terme Achilliane. €7; Museum, Terme Achilliane, Benedictine Monastery €12.
- 4 Palazzo degli Elefanti (Palazzo Municipale).
- 5 Palazzo dei Chierici (Palace of Clerks).
- 6 Chiesa della Badia di Sant'Agata, Via Vittorio Emanuele 184. Guided tours to the dome and the terraces: Tu 9:00-12:00, W-Sa 9:30 -12:30, 15:30-17:30; Su 9:30-12:30, 19:00-20:30. €3.
- 7 Castello Ursino (Castello Svevo di Catania), Piazza Federico Di Svevia, ☎ . 9:00-19:00 (last admission 18:00). a 13th century castle near center. Currently it hosts Museo civico (Civic Museum). €6.
- 8 Monastero dei Benedettini di San Nicolò l'Arena (The Benedictine Monastery), Piazza Dante, 32, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Fr 8:00-20:00, Sa 8:00-14:00. Guided tours scheduled on hour 9:00-17:00 (Aug 11:00-18:00). It is the oldest one in Sicily and it is one of the biggest monasteries in Europe. It hosts now the Faculty of Literature of the University of Catania. €7.
- 9 Chiesa di San Nicolò l'Arena, Piazza Dante (adjacent to the Benedictine Monastery), ☎ . M-Su 9:00-12:30. It is an unachieved church which was supposed to be the biggest one in Sicily. the church: free; Path Gronda €3.00;.
- 10 Via Crociferi. It's a centre of an ecclesiastical architecture in Catania: in no more than 200 meters there are 4 churches, 3 monasteries and a college are located there.
- 11 Monastero di San Benedetto (entrance from via Teatro Greco, 2), ☎ . Tu F Su 10.00-17.00. A splendid baroque monument. €5 (guided tours only).
- 12 Chiesa di San Francesco Borgia, Via Crociferi, 17, ☎ . M-Sa 9:00-19:30, 1st Su/month 9:00-19:30, 3rd Su/month 9:00-13:30. Today the church used for various cultural events. Next to the church is a former Jesuit college. Free admission.
- 13 Chiesa di San Giuliano, Via Crociferi, 36, ☎ .
- 14 Villa Cerami, Via Cerami (at the norther end of the Via Crociferi). A Baroque villa. Currently it hosts Faculty of Law of the University.
- 15 Basilica Maria Santissima dell'Elemosina (Basilica della Collegiata), Via Etnea 23. Tu-Su 9:00-12:00, 17:00-19:00. Free admission.
- 16 Palazzo Biscari, Via Museo Biscari, 10 - 16, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 7:00-13.00, 15:00-19:00. It is one the most interesting baroque palaces in Catania. The palace is privately owned. Check with the tourist office to arrange a visit.
Ancient Roman and Greek
- 17 Teatro Romano e Odeon (Roman Theatre and Odeon), Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 266, ☎ . M-Sa 9:00-19:00; Su 9:00-13:30. The theatre is dating back to the 1st century when it was built on the remains of the Greek theatre it used to hold up to 7000 spectators. Odeon, a smaller theatrical building, was built next to it in the 2nd. €6; 1st Su/month free (9.00-17.00).
- 18 Terme della Rotonda (Rotonda Thermal Baths), Via della Rotonda, ☎ . W Su 9:00-13:00. the remains of ancient Roman Baths. Free admission.
- 19 Anfiteatro Romano (Roman Amphitheatre), Piazza Stesicoro, ☎ . Tu-Sa 9:00-13:30, 14:30-17:00. Some modest remains amidst the square. Free admission.
- 20 Terme Achilliane (Achillean Baths), Via Etnea 8 (check with the ticket office at the Museo Diocesano). M W F 9:00-14:00; Tu Th 9:00-14:00, 15:00-18:00; Sa Su 9:00-13:00;. The remains of a small part of a large ancient baths located underground is open for the public. It's located under the Catania's Cathedral square. Some parts of mosaics and marble floor as well as some remains of decorated walls. The remains are still quite impressive. €5.
Other notable attractions
- 21 Teatro Massimo Bellini, Piazza Vincenzo Bellini, ☎ . A 19th-century opera theatre named after the Catania-born composer Vincenzo Bellini. The square before the theatre is said to be a popular meeting place among the local young people, so its neighbourhood is very lively and busy by night.
- 22 Palazzo dell'Università, Piazza Università.
- 23 Palazzo Della Cultura (ex Convento S.Placido, aka Palazzo Platamone), Via Vittorio Emanuele 121, ☎ . M-Sa 9:00-19:00, Su 9:00-13:30. A former monastery, it's now a venue for various exhibitions. It also hosts the access point, an information office of the municipal museums (M-Sa 9:00-13:00) Free admission.
- 24 Palazzo Gravina-Cruyllas, Piazza San Francesco d'Assisi, 3, ☎ . M-Sa 9:00-19:00, Su 9:00-13:00. It is known to been the birthplace of Vincenzo Bellini. Two museums are located there. €5.
- 25 Quattro Canti (Four Corners). A square at the intersection of Via Etnea with Via di Sangiuliano. It is somewhat reminiscent to the other octagonal squares in Italy: Quattro Canti at the piazza Vigliena in Palermo, Quattro Canti in Paternò, and Quattro Fontane in Rome, next to the church of San Carlino by Francesco Borromini.
- 26 Porta Garibaldi (Porta Ferdinandea), Via Garibaldi (at the E end of Piazza Palestro). The gates erected in 1768 in honor of King Ferdinand IV and his family.
Parks and gardens
- 27 Giardino Bellini (Villa Bellini). Relax at a beautiful 19th century park. The oldest part of it, known as Laberinto Biscari, dates even back to the 18th century.
- 28 Orto Botanico dell'Università di Catania (Botanical garden), Via Etnea, 397 (just north of the Villa Bellini), ☎ . M-F 9:00-19:30, Sa 9:00-14:00. A nice botanical garden of the University of Catania. Free admittance.
- 1 Via Etnea - Walk the main shopping avenue, running North from the Piazza del Duomo has most of the city's imposing building and is busy throughout the day and evening. Lots of churches. This road is the equivalent of Las Ramblas in Barcelona, so in the evenings the local people put on their Sunday clothes and walk at a relaxed pace along this avenue.
- La Plaja, sandy beaches south of the city along the bay
- The Riviera dei ciclopi, a rocky, volcano coast north of the city, stretching almost to Taormina
- Visit a minor religious festival, but avoid Sant'Agata on the 5th February due to the excessive crowds.
- A vintage self-drive excursion or a themed tour on a classic Fiat 500, starting from Catania or Taormina / Giardini Naxos. The most popular excursions are themed on the Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather movie and on the Etna Wines Road. You can reach villages like Savoca, Forza D’Agrò and Taormina. Contact 500 Vintage Tour - Classic car hire & tours - Taormina - Phone +39 3497234906 - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org - Website: 500 Vintage Tour
- Federico II (School of Italian language and culture), via Garibaldi 9 (first building on via Garibaldi, close to the Amenano fountain in piazza Duomo), ☎ . The school is hosted in a Baroque building located downtown. The school offers year-round intensive language courses, full immersion classes for all levels, while the afternoon provides a program of cultural activities to learn the culture and practice the language. The cultural themes of the lectures are: cinema, art history, songs and music, traditions and mythology, visits to museums and monuments, food and wine tasting. During the summer the school offers the Summer School program, which includes language classes in the morning, and in the afternoon a cooking class, a visit to a monument, and three sports or recreational activities, taking place in beach clubs having an agreement with the school. €170.
The Addiopizzo Catania is a movement of shopkeepers who refuse to pay the racket to the Mafia. The Catania's consumers sustain them by going shopping in their stores.
Every morning,except Sundays, two fascinating markets are held:
- 1 Fera 'o Luni, Piazza Carlo Alberto. M-Sa morning. A bustling food and clothes market. The main historic market of Catania.
- 2 La Piscaria, Piazza Alonzo di Benedetto. M-Sa morning. A large fish market in a beautiful setting off Piazza Duomo. You could have to haggle the price.
Catania is proud of its specialities. A famous speciality is pasta alla Norma which consists in pasta (generally macaroni) dressed with tomato sauce and topped with fried eggplant slices, grated ricotta salad and fresh basil. The fish is also good, as Catania is a large port. The city is also known for horse meat, especially in some areas around the "Benedictine Monastery".
Typical Catanese pastry include the world-wide famous cannolo alla Ricotta, cassatella di Sant'Agata (a small cassata) and pasta di Mandorla (based on almond meal).
Like in most of Sicily, you can get a freshly made cold panini in a salumeria, where you choose whatever you want to put in (prosciutto cotto/crudo and cheese are probably the most popular ones), for €1-3. Don’t forget that most of salumerias are closed between 1-4PM and on Sunday afternoon.
You can also have some tavola calda (“hot bite”) meal, most of them made with cheese and meat, fried or baked. You will normally pay €1,50 for one piece.
Another Sicilian speciality is arancino, which are deep fried rice balls with various fillings, meat or eggplant or spinach, that sell for €1,50 at most places. They make a good lunch snack.
Also, especially in the evening, some big kiosks sell hot, tasty and fat panini, some even even horse meat filling. Most people add fries into the sandwich. Usually, it’s about €2,50-3,00 and they are very popular among teenagers. Because its quite cheap, there is normally confusion at these kiosks.
In summer, a typical breakfast consists of "Granita" (a kind of sorbet of almond or black mulberry) served with a brioscia (sweet round small loaf): it is a nourishing and refreshing combination that can be found in almost any bar of the city.
- 1 Spinella Pasticceria, 292 Via Etna, ☎ . 7.30 am to 10.30 pm, Sat & Sun to 11.30 pm. Sicilian cakes, cannolis, arancini, espresso. Outdoor seating.
- 3 Camelot, 73 Piazza Federico di Svevia (near Castello Ursino). Okay for the meat lover, fish is from frozen.
- Trattoria Il Mare, 7 Via San Michele, ☎ . Delicious seafood. Casual atmosphere. Tue-Sun lunch 12.30 - 3 pm, dinner 7.30 - 11 pm, closed Mon.
- 4 L'Angolo dello Chef, 21 Via Grimaldi (corner of Via Plebiscito). Humble home cooking joint. Traditional Sicilian dishes from caponata to polli alla brace.
- 5 Dopo Teatro, Via Coppola 4, ☎ . Open 7 days, 7.30 pm till very late. Panineria with tables. Known for grilled meats.
- 6 Sicilia in Bocca alla Marina, Via Beato Cardinale G.B. Dusmet, 35, ☎ . Typical Sicilian food and pizza. Beware that there's another restaurant in town with this name: it's on Piazza Pietro Lupo but it's not recommended. And there's yet another 10 km north up the mountain.
- 7 Trattoria di Fiore, 26 Via Pietro Antonio Coppola, ☎ . Closed Monday. Classic Sicilian food in a small family trattoria.
- 8 Trattoria da Antonio, Via Castello Ursino 59, ☎ . Lunch Tues-Sun; dinner daily 7 pm - midnight. Reasonably priced fresh seafood.
- Al Cavalier Roxy, 51 Piazza Federico di Svevia, ☎ . Daily lunch, dinner 7.30 pm - midnight. Sicilian cuisine.
- 9 Trattoria U Fucularu, 20 Via Euplio Reina, ☎ . closed Tuesday. Antipasto buffet, grilled meats.
You'd find all kinds of kiosks in the city which sell various refreshments, such as coffee, limoncello or popular local drinks such as seltz al limone (soda water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice) or mandarino al limone (soda water with tangerine syrup and fresh-squeezed lemon juice).
- [dead link]Barrique Club, Via S. Guliano, 242, ☎ . Great atmosphere, good bar with Italian and international drinks, excellent snacks and cakes. At night live jazz and Sicilian music.
- Agora Hostel, 6 Piazza Curro, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. In a backstreet under the Duomo, it's lively and can fill up even out of season. Beds in a dorm rooms from €18.
- Ananda B&B, Via Muscatello 7 (Near Piazza Roma), ☎ . B&B in the centre, walking distance from the Bellini Gardens, Via Etnea and the Market. 30 euro.
- BMoDe, Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 108 (Catania centre), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. central b&b 500 m from railway station
- 1 Suite Inn Catania, Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 108 (central), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 12.00, check-out: 11.00. Clean & central b&b €45.
- 2 B&B Opera, Via Antonio di Sangiuliano, 129 (Catania centre), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 11-22, check-out: 10.30. Central b&b, rooms have balconies, bathroom, hairdryer, TV, air conditioning, minibar. Free wi-fi is free. 60-80 euros for double room.
- Hotel Etnea 316, ☎ , fax: . Bright and airy 3 star guest house ideal for young travellers. 35 euros.
- Hotel Valentino, 39 Piazza Turi Ferro, ☎ . Central 3 star hotel with friendly staff and a pleasant and peaceful atmosphere. 75 euros double.
- BAD: Bed and Breakfast and Design, Via Cristoforo Colombo 24 (near Duomo), ☎ . simple hostel, striving to be funky 45 euros.
- Hotel Villa Romeo, 8 Via Platamonte, ☎ , fax: . Comfortable hotel near the railway station.
- 3 B&B Globetrotter Catania, Vicolo della Lanterna, 14 (200 m from Duomo), ☎ . Check-in: 12, check-out: till 11. An antique building that has been recently renovated. B&B (also rents independent apartments) with fully equipped kitchen, bathroom, air conditioning, TV, DVD, HiFi, internet Wifi and hairdryer. €30.
Around Catania and Etna
- Agriturismo San Leonardello, 165 Via Madonna della Liberta, San Leonardello (On SS114 20 km north of Catania), ☎ . Rustic farmhouse off highway close to Etna, Taormina and the beach resorts of Riposto and Acireale.
- La Pietra Antica O Munti, Via Andronico, Puntalazzo (Off SP 155 in mountain village above Giarre, 40 km north of Catania), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Farm accommodation on flanks of Etna.
- Agriturismo Arrigo, C.da Arrigo Soprano, Linguaglossa (50 km north of Catania. Follow SS120 to Linguaglossa then SP 59 iv, signs for Hotel Neri), ☎ , fax: . Farmhouse on flanks of Etna.
- Villa Etelka, 5 Via Prof Enrico Sagone, Valverde (Valverde is 20 km north of Catania), ☎ . Villa with sea view and swimming pool.
Mid-range to High
- Hotel Agathae, 229 Via Etnae (on main drag through town), ☎ , fax: . 3 star accommodation
- Gresi Hotel, 28 Via Pacini (Off Via Etnea close to post office), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Clean, AC, bathroom, balcony, high arched ceilings with paintings. €75 without breakfast.
- The Parco degli Aragonesi, Viale Kennedy, on beach (Tel. +39 095 723 4073) and the Catania Centro, 13 Piazza Trento, downtown (Tel. +39 095 316 933), are the two NH hotels in Catania .
- Hotel il Principe, 24 Via Alessi, ☎ , fax: . Boutique hotel in a restored aristocratic building, very central near Cathedral.
- Hotel La Ville, Via Monteverdi, 15 (very central near railway station), ☎ , fax: . One of the oldest hotels in Catania, it's a large 3 star family run establishment. Self catering apartments also available.
- Hotel Nettuno, Viale Ruggero Di Lauria 121 (off coastal SS114 east of downtown), ☎ , fax: . Modern four star beach hotel with open air swimming pool, restaurants, health spa and meeting facilities. Ideal for families as well as corporate.
- Luxury Hotel Romano Palace, Viale Kennedy 28 (on coast 2 km south of downtown), ☎ . Beach resort, very close to airport, with Jacuzzi, private beach and restaurant.
- Four Points by Sheraton Catania, Via Antonello da Messina 45, Cannizzaro (on coast 4 km east of downtown), ☎ . Hotel & conference centre with 162 rooms and 7 suites. With sea-water pool and beach access.
- 4 Villa Cibele, 17B Via Francesco Marletta (Off Via Cibele 3 km west of centre), ☎ . The hotel is in an elegant early 19th century building edge of town. Clean & quiet, good if you're touring with your own car.
- Grande Albergo Maugeri, 27 Piazza Garibaldi, Acireale (Acireale is 15 km N of Catania), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com.
Be careful not to look conspicuously touristy, exposing jewelry, large bags or photo gear that might entice fast pickpockets or robbers. They are abundant all around the city and they recognize immediately anyone who is not from around here.
Also, there will be A LOT of people that WILL stop you and aggressively ask you for money.
As in any other city avoid the station area, expecially at night.
San Cristoforo is the most dangerous neighborhood in Catania and is located near the city centre, at the end of Via Plebiscito. Do not wander the streets alone. Another dangerous neighborhood is Librino, but of no interest for a tourist.
- Mount Etna — an eerie volcanic landscape, with "rivers" of solidified lava. The top is 3,323 m high, so regardless of the summer heat at sea level, the summit will be cold, so make sure to have some worm clothing with you. There is a daily bus service to the Rifugio Sapienza (Nicolosi) at 1,400 m below the summit. Another option is to make a trip around the Mount Etna on a narrow gauge Circumetnea train.
Riviera dei Ciclopi
A chain of 3 villages just north-east of Catania along the coast:
- Aci Castello, where you could see
- 29 Castello di Aci (Castello Normanno). 09:00-12:00. A medieval castle at the top of a giant rock, right over the sea. Now there is a small civic museum.
- Aci Trezza is a little fisherman village well known for Isole dei Ciclopi — giant rocks lying in the sea, supposed to be the ones thrown by the Cyclops at Ulysses. There is also a small port with a few restaurants around it.
- Acireale claims to have one of the greatest carnivals in Sicilia (end of January - beginning of February). Riserva naturale orientata La Timpa is located along the rocky coast of the village. There are a few panoramic trails across the reserve -- check their site.
Aci Castello and Aci Trezza are in a 1/2 hour bus ride from Catania. Take AMT urban bus 534 (Catania – Acicastello) which starts from Piazza Borsellino or AST regional bus from Piazza Papa Giovanni XXIII. For Acireale take either AST, Interbus or Zappalà & Torrisi buses (50 min).
To reach the north coast, the quickest way is to blat along the autostrada A18, or take the A19 past Enna. A more attractive route SS185 winds through the hills from Taormina, with views back over Etna, and through the picturesque medieval town of Novara di Sicilia. On the north coast either turn west for Palermo, or go a little way north to Milazzo the port for the Aeolian Islands, or turn east to the ferry port of Messina.