Time does not pass by in Catania. A short stroll through Giuseppe Verdi, one of those roads that is not listed on tourist guides, but that run across the heart of the city, helps getting the idea. Ruined manors, squares where retail sales can be felt, old-style stores still happily surviving, children playing football on the street. Catania is just as you see it. And I would say that it is what you want to see, because there is also a great deal of history behind its chipping walls and dark alleyways. It has been said that “Catania does things its own way, it has no competitors.” And it’s true. The second most inhabited city in Sicily conveys serenity and the taste of a smuggler’s life in equal shares. Pure, unaltered Mediterranean culture.
Once you have left the hotel, get ready to enjoy the street life. Because Catania means street culture, suburban life. And its markets are a poof of that. The best-known is Pescheria, located in the old quarter, very close to the square where the Duomo is located. Walking through it means enjoying seafood and fish caught the night before: From giant snappers and tunas, to small sardines and mantis shrimps.
Strolling through the capital is to keep in running into churches from different times. The most interesting ones are those that, in addition to its stunning baroque façades, hide something unique and different inside. Forget about the Cathedral and get to Saint Agatha’s church, just 50 metres away. There is a true balcony to the city here. You will have the chance to climb up to the dome and above for €3, and taking in a panoramic 360° view. Priceless.
Catania is an easy city to visit. Admire the beautiful squares, the Baroque architecture and make an excursion up to the Mount Etna for some remarkable views. You won’t regret it — Catania è facile da visitare. Ammirate le magnifiche piazze, l’architettura barocca e fate una escursione sul Monte Etna se volete godere di un panorama unico. Non ve ne pentirete! — ?Special thanks to ? @chiavedivolta? — ?Tag your pics with ?#ilikeitaly? — #ig_visitsicily #siciliabedda #sicilia #sicily #catania #baroque #beautiful #beautifulmatters #best_italiansites #browsingitaly #cathedral #click_italy #citylandscape #cityphotography #discoveritaly #dolcevita #doyoutravel #exploringitaly #italia_dev #italian_places #italyiloveyou #icu_architecture #inspiring_photography_admired #huffpostgram #living_europe #mediterraneo #marmediterraneo #monumentaleurope
The next important marketplace is the one located at piazza Carlo Alberto and its surrounding streets. There are stalls across it with traditional cheeses from the area, such as the pecorino or smoked ricotta, tomatoes grown at the foot of the Etna, vast amounts of CD recorded music, and men and women’s clothes that can easily hold their ground against those from the great Milan designers.
Mangiare means to eat. This is the verb you will hear the most in Italy. Restaurants, small osterias (a type of local restaurant serving wine and simple foods), and the distinctive pizzerias will populate Catania streets. A piece of advice: Get used to trying local cuisine. Visiting Catania and not trying its pasta alla Norma would be a crime. This dish was named after a play from Vicenzo Bellini, a local musician. A delicacy made with local eggplants and fresh ricotta. The best place to sample them is the trattoria Giglio Rosso, a delicious oasis at the heart of the busy Vittorio Emanuele street. Its inner patio, dressed with plants and traditional clotheslines is the perfect place to try the Pescheria genre. You have no idea what kind of fish that one is? No problem, the paisano will show you a tray and let you choose. Pair it with a bottle of house grillo, a pretty fruity local white wine. Average ticket? €30 per person.
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And there is still room for one more market. This one is located below the train tracks, next to the Paolo Borsellino square. You will find it open only on Sundays, when the other two are closed. Riddled with vintage products and objects from earlier days, this is a unique opportunity to bring unique and original souvenir with you back to Spain, as well as to explore the true Sicilian trail, which is as good as our own.
Roman ruins are already a familiar part of the island landscape. There is no place without its own theatre, circus, or amphitheatre. Although, most of the time, the preservation conditions are far from being good. That is not the case of Catania’s Roman Theatre, build in II A.D., which has managed to survive the last Etna eruption in 1669. It usually holds concerts, so check it out and you will probably have the chance to enjoy an Italian artist.
Each corner of Sicily has its own gelateria. But if you also would like to enjoy a historic place, you must go to the Pasticceria Savia and, since you’re already there, drop by the Villa Bellini, a gigantic baroque garden just a few metres away. Catania is defined by spectacular confectionery and also by its pistachio ice crema. We can also sample traditional recipes, such as the “Tetas de Santa Ágata” (Saint Agatha’s Boobs), made with local cheese.
You will find the Urbino Castle about 15 minutes from the town centre, a museum that blends renaissance and baroque paints, Greco-Roman remains, and modern photography. Its greatest attraction is the views of the Etna towering the city. Plebiscito is close by, a suburban street where hundreds of teenagers come and go, three per motorcycle, and in horse-drawn carriages. We said it before: Time does not pass by in Catania. La Rustica is located there, a small trattoria where you can sample the daily catch, mussels, clams, red Sicilian shrimp, and wide range of local dishes, such as horse meat. Prices are also from another age. Yes, about €10 per person.