Travel Guide Europe Italy Sicily Catania



Catania is a city on the central eastern coast of Sicily and has about 300,000 inhabitants. The metropolitan area is much bigger though, with roughly 750,000 people living here. It's located between Messina and Siracusa and at the foot of Mount Etna, the highest point on Sicily and an active volcano. Much of the city is even constructed out of the lava that came down the volcano in 1669, killing a massive 12,000 people.

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 1970s, 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 17th-century downtown area is still the center of the day-to-day life.

Catania sits under the most major 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.



Sights and Activities

Because of the destruction by lava coming down Mount Etna, Catania has been destroyed quite a few times and in layers beneath the ground, remains can still be found dating back to Greek and Roman times. Of the last period, the remains can be seen from:

  • The Greek-Roman Theatre (2nd century).
  • The Odeon (3rd century).
  • The Catanian Amphitheatre (2nd century).
  • The Greek Acropolis of Mountvirgin's Hill.
  • The Roman Aqueduct's Ruins.
  • The Roman Forum in Piazza San Pantaleone.
  • Roman ruins in Cortile Archirotti.
  • Several Christian basilicas, hypogea, Roman burial monuments and Catacombs in some urban areas.
  • The Roman Columns in Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini.
  • The Achillean Thermae.

The Baroque city centre of Catania is on the Unesco World Heritage List containing the following sights:

  • Saint Agatha's Cathedral
  • Saint Agatha's Abbey
  • Saint Placid
  • Saint Joseph by the Dome
  • Most Holy Sacrament by the Dome
  • Saint Martin of the White Garbs
  • Saint Agatha the Eldest
  • Saint Agatha by the Furnace or Saint Blaise
  • Saint Prison's Church or Saint Agatha in Jail

There also quite a few historical churches to be found scattered around Catania. The Piazza del Duomo is one of the usual hotspots of the city as well and there are nice parks and botanical gardens.




Catania has a mediterranean climate with warm, dry and sunny summers and mild but wetter winters. Summes last from late May to September when temperatures are usually around 30 °C during the day and just under 20 °C on average at night. Occasionally though, with winds blowing directly from Africa, temperatures rise steeply and 45 °C or a little more has been recorded in the past. Nights even can stay above 30 °C during these rare occasions!
Winters last from December to February with still mild temperatures of between 15 °C and 18 °C and rather chilly nights of 5 °C to 8 °C. This is also the wettest time of year, while summermonths can go by without a single drop of rain.



Getting There

By Plane

Catania-Fontanarossa International Airport (CTA) is the main gateway to Catania if you are arriving or leaving by plane. Around 25 airlines serve the airport at the moment, though most of them only fly to one or a few cities. Currently, Catania-based Wind Jet has the most flights, including to Barcelona, Madrid, Malta, Milan-Linate, Moscow-Domodedovo, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Parma, Pisa, Rome-Fiumicino, Saint Petersburg, Tel Aviv, Turin, Venice and Verona. Other airlines include Transavia to Amsterdam, Thomson Airways to London, Brussels Airlines to Brussels, Aer Lingus to Dublin, Air Malta to Geneva, Air Berlin to Berlin, Munich and Zürich, Egyptair to Cairo, Luxor and Sharm el-Sheikh and several more airlines to cities lik Bucharest, Bratislava, Prague, Vienna, Pescara, Genoa and Naples.

To/from the airport
The airport is conveniently located close to the A19 motorway, which links Catania with Palermo and central Sicily, while the European route E45 runs to Syracuse in the south. A shuttle bus service provides transport into Catania city centre and the Central Train Station, while scheduled bus services to other parts of the island are also available direct from the airport.

By Train

Trains run roughly hourly along the east coast via Taormina-Giardini to Messina (90 min to 2 hr). 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 hr 30 min). The scenic inland route to Caltagirone is suspended indefinitely for engineering works: a replacement bus runs once a day.

By Car

Catania is easily reached from Messina along the A18 autostrada and from Palermo along the A19.

By Bus

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, as is the main railway station, and just north is the bus station Stazione AST. The main bus terminal is S side of Via Archimede (corner with Viale della Liberta.) But there are no facilities here, and you need to buy your ticket from the ticket offices along Via D'Amico, a short block north. Coach parking lots sprawl over adjacent blocks but the only other active pick-up / drop-off areas are for some SAIS long-distance services, facing Via D'Amico.

By Boat


Mainland Italy




Getting Around

By Car

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. Park & Ride is available at the airport, and at Nesima metro station west of the city.

By Public Transport

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) [2] is a narrow-gauge railway that loops around the west flanks of Etna then back to the coast and mainline at Giarre-Riposto, 28 km north of Catania. The terminus in Catania is Borgo, with a metro connection to Centrale railway station and downtown. Trains run from Catania Borgo Mon-Sat hourly, all as far as Paterno, most as far as Adrano, and eight per day reach Bronte and Randazzo (2 hours) where these south-side trains terminate. To complete the circuit, you change to the north-side train Randazzo-Linguaglossa-Giarre-Riposto, taking 70 min. There are 3 or 4 of these per day in summer but only one or two in winter. At Giarre the Circumetnea and mainline stations are side by side, with Circumetnea trains continuing for a final km to terminate at Riposto. There is no Sunday or public holiday service on the Circumetnea line.

Visitors to Catania are only likely to use the metro reach the Circumetnea railway. It's possibly 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 ends at the suburb of Nesima, which has Park & Ride. The metro runs M-Sa 06:50-21:00 every 10-15 min; no service Sundays or public holidays. Single ticket €1 (valid 90 min), Bus+Metro €1.20 (valid 120 min), Day pass €2 (metro only).

An extension west from Nesima is under construction: it's expected to open as far as Fontana in Nov 2018, and Misterbianco in 2022. They also plan to extend south from Stesicoro to the airport.

By Foot

Catania has a compact centre and it is most convenient just to walk around.




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 13:00-16:00 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.




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).




You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)






Keep Connected


Almost all towns and cities in Italy have internet cafes. A growing number of budget hostels and nicer hotels have free Wifi. By law all public-access internet points must keep records of web sites viewed by customers, and even the customer's ID: expect to be refused access if you don't provide identification. Hotels providing Internet access are not required to record IDs if the connection is provided in the guest's room, although if the connection is offered in the main public hall then IDs are required. Publicly available wireless access without user identification is illegal, so open Wi-Fi hotspots (like the ones you might expect to find in a mall or cafée) all have some form of (generally one-time) registration.


See also: International Telephone Calls

The main networks are TIM (Telecom Italia Mobile, part of Telecom Italia, formerly state controlled), Vodafone, Wind, and 3 (only UMTS cellphones). Best advice is to buy a prepaid SIM card (from € 10 upwards) and a cheap mobile phone (€ 19 upwards) to put it in (if you don't have a cellphone already that you can use). It will be much more practical. All land line numbers start with 0. Mobile numbers start with 3. Numbers starting with 89 are high-fee services. In case of emergency call the appropriate number from the list below. Such calls are usually free and calls to 112, 113 (police), 115 (fire), 118 (health) can be made from payphones for free without the need of inserting coins. 112 (standard emergency number in GSM specification) can be dialed in any case for free from any mobile phone.


Post Italiane is the national postal services of Italy and has quite an efficient network of postal offices and reliable postal services. Standard letters and postcards (up to 20 grams) cost €0.39 to send within Europe and the Mediterranean countries outside Europe and €0.41 to all other destinations throughout the country. Up to 50 grams, prices start at €0.52 for Europe, €0.62 for other areas. Packages start at €1.55 within Europe, and around €2.50 for other countries. Post office business hours in Italy are from 8:30am to 2:00pm from Monday to Friday, with closing times at Saturday and the last day of the month at 12 noon. In general, larger post offices in bigger cities and in tourist areas keep longer hours than those in local towns. Also note that business hours in the south might be different than the north, with longer hours at night, especially in summer! If you want to send packages you might try faster and more reliable/efficient private courier companies like TNT, UPS or DHL.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 37.502812
  • Longitude: 15.0883146

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This is version 15. Last edited at 14:43 on Nov 9, 18 by Utrecht. 30 articles link to this page.

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