Sicily's oldest city is found along its eastern coast. A devastating volcano eruption destroyed several local villages in the 16th century. The beautiful Mount Etna will be visible as your ship approaches the port. Only a few minutes walk separates the dock from the historic center. Walking through the small town will allow you to explore the piazzas and other important sites. A lot of the city's view is dominated by Mount Etna in the not-so-distant distance, hence the nickname "gray city" because of its signature lava rock color.
Discovering a new city's highlights is one of the best parts of exploring it, and Catania's highlights make it unique. As the city's history, culture, and traditions evolved, it underwent significant changes. After reading about some of its highlights, you'll be awe-inspired by this destination.
Similar to Sicily as a whole, Catania's cuisine emphasizes local ingredients. In many dishes, olives are a staple ingredient, as there is a lot of vegetable and fish consumption. Typically, pasta is served as a starter at restaurants in Catania, followed by meat or fish as the main course. In the city center, you can find several local restaurants that serve sit-down meals. Additionally, you will find that the classic ricotta cheese filling is sweet. Still, it pairs perfectly with the waffle pastry and chocolate topping. The pistachios and orange peel are commonly topped on this sweet treat.
Over several centuries, Catania became one of the region's most extraordinary powers after being settled by the Chalcidians in 729 BC. Rome, Byzantines, Saracens, and Normans were among the powers ruling Catania over the centuries. In 1693, a great earthquake shook the city that had been engulfed in ash and lava during the Mount Etna eruption a few decades earlier, causing the current city center to be rebuilt as recently. UNESCO recognized the city as a world heritage site because of the beautiful rebuilding. Apart from having a dynamic economy rooted in petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals, Catania is also an exciting university city with an educational vibe and exciting nightlife.
A cruise to Catania is a great opportunity to shop in Via Etnea, a street lined with Baroque monuments and all designer brands. The view of Mount Etna is also breathtaking at the end of the road.
An open-air market, friendly cafes, and cathedrals are must-sees for those interested in tasting modern life in Catania's storied past. Many trails crisscrossing the volcanos offer hiking, biking, and off-roading so that you can experience an unforgettable outdoor adventure outside Catania. Check out the following for more information on other exciting spots.
You shouldn't miss the opportunity to see the panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea from Taormina when you are on a cruise to Catania. The ancient Roman Theater, which dates back to the third century BC, is Taormina's most famous site, where you can see these views. The views of the deep blue sea below will mesmerize you as you walk through the Teatro Antico di Taormina. As a result of its excellent preservation, the theater is still used for various events. A small village called Castelmola can also be visited during your trip. Overlooking Taormina, it offers stunning views of the Ionian coastline from its natural terrace built around the remains of a Norman castle.
One of the main tourist attractions in Sicily is Mount Etna, which lies virtually under the shadow of Catania. A 3329m high volcano, it is considered to be the tallest active volcano in Europe. Volcanoes have erupted on and off, but the last eruption was in 2015. Catania's Mount Etna is the best place to see its gaping caldera close up, so don't miss your chance to climb it when you're there. The volcano is accessible by various tour companies - hiking, cycling, or even riding an ATV or a jeep are all options. It is incredible to see Sicily from Mount Etna on a clear day.
A charming village, Aci Castello, can be found approximately 10 miles northeast of Catania. Since the Norman conquest of Sicily, this village has been centered around the castle on the coast. Located on a rock outcrop overlooking the sea, the castle is the main attraction here. A landmark on this section of the Sicilian coast since 1076, this castle dates back hundreds of years. The castle grounds and battlements offer fantastic views of the sea and the surrounding area. Today you can explore the castle grounds and climb up the top battlements for incredible views.
In honor of the queen of Empress Maria Theresa, Maria Carolina, who married Ferdinand IV in 1768, the Porta Garibaldi gate was built. In a dramatic horizontal layer of white limestone and black lava, the gate was designed by Francesco Battaglia and his stepson Stefano Ittar. A clock is placed between two winged figures, symbolizing glory, on the west-facing side facing the city.
Mount Etna is home to many lovely vineyards. Wines produced here are flavorful due to the rich volcanic soils. The grape varieties native to this area are nerello cappuccino and nerellomascalese. There is also an abundance of syrah, merlot, and cabernet sauvignon that grows in abundance for the production of red wine. Often, Mount Etna wineries require appointments for tastings since not all allow them. Tours organized by wineries will enable you to visit multiple wineries simultaneously. Visiting vineyards might not be possible due to your busy schedule. Catania is also home to hip bars where you can sample local wines, cheeses, and cold cuts.