It lies in the shadow of Etna and besides the force of the volcano, the city has witnessed the passing of Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Angevins, Aragonese, Bourbons and more. Its natural location is equally varied, between the perfumed citrus fields and the sparkling Mediterranean. Splendid late Baroque streets have produced writers and musicians like Verga and Bellini. Taormina, Acireale and the Valley of Temples are only a short drive away. Sicily’s second city – an island of sunshine and silence, contradictions and inscrutable gestures. Fascinatingly different.
Catania has its roots in the ancient Greek colony of the “Calcidesi from Naxos” (729 b.C.). According to Plutarcus the name Catania stands for “grater” and points out the volcanic origin of the ground. Along its history the city experienced many times natural disasters due to the Etna volcano, a threatening and charming natural entity. Located in front of the Ionian Sea, Catania has nowadays 500 thousand citizens and still reminds us of its past beauty in its historical town centre. Set not far away from this city rich in history, the Sheraton Catania hotel has perfectly become part of this natural environment. The hotel is situated at 4 km far away from the town centre, 6 km from the railway station, 15 km from the Fontanarossa airport.
We hope you leave time to explore the local sights.
Take a look at the virual details of our city. Thanks to Catania Tourist Board
( May take up to 1 min to download )
- Museo Bellini (3.7 mi/6.0 km)
- Museo Verga (3.7 mi/6.0 km)
- Castello Ursino ( 4,9 mi / 8,0 km )
- Historical City Center (3.7 mi/6.0 km)
- Acireale (6.2 mi/10.0 km)
Agatha, a good and beautiful woman
“A Sicilian saint, she lived and she died during the 3rd century, she is the Patroness of Catania, she is the protectress of the wet nurses, the puerperas and the bell’s founders. She is invocated against the fire risks, the Etna’s fire and the earthquakes. She is celebrated the 5 February ….”. This is the definition of a hagiographical text, but the historical memory and the popular devotion that surround her are linked to far-off times.
Agatha’s attributes are: the cut breast and the terrible instruments of torture among which one must remember the pincers, the torches, and the pyre. The unicorn’s horn is the symbol of her virginity, because, according to and old legend, only a virgin could capture this mythical animal.
To the north of Catania, the shoreline is known as “la Scogliera”, a stretch of rocky coast and pebble beaches that features a succession of hotels, restaurants, bars, villas, and bathing clubs/solarium set up on spurs of lava that long ago reached out into the sea. The Scogliera comes to an end at the Riviera dei Ciclopi, the Cyclops Riviera, which owes its name to the “Faraglioni”, huge outcrops of rock forged by underwater lava explosions. The spot has been immortalised in writer Giovanni Verga’s story “I Malavoglia” (“The House by the Medlar Tree”) and Visconti’s film “La terra trema”.
Via dello Stadio, 35 095/363545
Via Umberto, 312 095/535514
Teatro Massimo Bellini
Piazza Bellini 095/7150921
Via S. Euplio, 21 095/322323
Piccolo teatro di Catania
Via F. Ciccaglione, 095/7470702
Catania by day, Catania by night. Mt Etna and the beaches, the discos, clubs and meeting places that come to life with the setting sun and continue to dazzle revellers all night long until down with their glittering lights and magical atmospheres made up of unexpected encounters among the exotic plants and heady aromas.
This is the Catania I want to tell you about, the city that stands proudly in the shade of Europe’s highest volcano, bathed by the still clean and pleasant waters of the Ionion Sea, and it is a pleasure to boast about this small yet big-hearted and above all lively city of the South that has set the pace for the past twenty years, defining and transforming our very notion of lifestyle, satisfying the most eclectic range of visitors’ quest for the movida, while showing a dynamism and creativity that extend beyond business and can be seen in everywhere.
As I have been asked to highlight the pleasures of good food more than any of the other very interesting aspects of life here, let me without further ado introduce seekers after the joys of Catania’s cooking to the arancino, one of the city’s inimitable emblems.
Wherever you come from, you will probably feel yourself under a moral obligation to sample this legendary rice ball in fried breadcrumbs, flavoured with a rich meat or béchamel sauce. Bars everywhere serve this characteristic offering from Catania’s answer to take-away food, the tavola calda. It is usually savoury, but we have also come across a few sweet-tasting variants, like the delicious though decidedly calorie-rich arancino alla nutella. Certain bars specialize in arancini, frying them and serving them as soon as they’re ready, at all hours of the day. Right in the heart of the city, along a route that runs from Villa Pacini ( near the cathedral, on the other side of another of the city’s symbols, the viaduct known as the “archi della marina”), and the historic Porta Uzeda, and follows Via Etnea up to Via Umberto and on to Via Musumeci, there are dozen of bars where you can enjoy an arancino.
Seasons come and go, and you can enjoy traditional granite (water ices) throughout the year, especially in summer with a classic breakfast of almond-flavoured granite (or any of the dozen other delicious flavours such as lemon, chocolate, mulberry, or pistachio) and a brioche bun, with have set mouths watering for the young and old alike for ages. The “invention” of water ices goes back hundreds of years.
In the evening, you can choose among the many restaurants, pizzerias and trattorie, which range from the modest to the very fine. If you enjoy meat then you should really try the local steaks, and other traditional dishes prepared from horse, or donkey (with is even rarer), and take the opportunity to travel along the historic Via Plebiscito, one of the longest streets in Catania, which begins not far from Piazza Sresicoro and curves round for a few kilometres, arriving very near the harbour.
There are any number of places where you can enjoy some fine foreign and Sicilian DOC label wines or DOP label cheeses, often with a background of live music which ranges from jazz to rock or chart covers by local talent.
In the pubs and bars, to found in Piazza Federico di Svevia , near the majestic bulk of Castello Ursino, and in the very lively heart of the old town, where the rhythm is set by hundreds of pubs studded in the districts wedged between Piazza San Francesco di Paola and Piazza Universitŕ, the steps of the “Scalinata Alessi”, Piazza Teatro Massimo, Piazza Cutelli and Piazza Duca di Genova, you can drink excellent liqueurs and grappa and sample a delicious mix of regional and international cooking, as well as the many other attractions, from Internet point to interactive exhibitions, hosted by the restaurants and pizzerias.
The strong points of traditional Sicilian cooking are such quintessential dishes as parmigiana, with its layers of sliced aubergines and creamy cheese, or pasta alla Norma with its rich tomato sauce and fried aubergines, or pasta alle sarde (sardines), or cassata siciliana, cannolo di ricotta, or pistachio cake for dessert.
From food to music, you can find disco-pubs or trendy clubs where music is the undisputed master. The devotion to music is clearly evident in the blend of seduction and entertainment in the clubs you’ll find along Via Antonino di Sangiuliano and Via Teatro Massimo, or Viale Africa, not far from the train station.
Bars and cafés stay open all night, providing company for nighttime revellers as they head home around daybreak and Saturdays and Sundays. You can find a few of these safe havens scattered from Piazza Duomo and Corso Sicilia to Piazza Galatea and Viale Vittorio Veneto, and along the Lungomare, the road that skirts the seafront all the way to the tiny port of Ognina.
And if the tireless fans of discos an nocturnal rendezvous look upon Catania as a dynamic city dedicated to all-day partying and clubbing, we can finish off our trip round the city’s characteristics venues with stops at three very special places.