Peer inside a volcanic crater, take part in year-round outdoor pursuits and view hundreds of years of architecture at one of Sicily’s largest cities.
Catania lies on Sicily’s eastern coast, under the shadow of Mount Etna, Europe’s biggest volcano. The island’s second-largest city offers wild landscapes, archeological treasures, beaches and the baroque architecture of its downtown center. Climb up to the volcano’s crater rim, dive under the sea and investigate ancient ruins.
During the 17th century, a volcanic eruption and earthquake leveled Catania. The city was rebuilt with grand structures using some of the lava that had brought about its destruction. Go to the Piazza Duomo and admire the bluish-gray baroque façade of the Cathedral of St. Agatha, fashioned from volcanic rock. Inside, look for the chapel containing the saint’s relics. Surrounding the square are other magnificent structures including the Church of St. Agatha’s Abbey and Palazzo degli Elefanti, housing the city’s Town Hall.
Visit the large open-air fish market just off the piazza. Sample cheeses, cured meats and fresh fruits and vegetables from numerous stalls. Find more shopping nearby on Via Etnea, the city’s main retail artery, with modern department stores and high-end clothing brands.
Despite its natural disasters, traces of ancient Catania can still be seen. Explore the ruins of Anfiteatro Roma, a 2,000-year-old amphitheater and Teatro Romano-Odeon, a smaller arena. Visit the museum and art gallery inside the 13th-century Ursino Castle.
Many people come to Catania for its natural beauty and outdoor pursuits. Go horseback riding, trekking and bird-watching on the slopes of Etna. Look for buzzards and eagles soaring overhead. Hike up to the crater or book a jeep tour to the summit. During winter, ski down the snow-covered slopes of its two ski resorts. Head to La Playa beach for swimming, snorkeling, sailing, surfing and other watersports.
Fly into Aeroporto Vincenzo Bellini, 4 miles (7 kilometers) from the city. You can also arrive by ferry from the Italian mainland. Get around by bus, metro, taxi or rental car. Let Catania enthrall you with its scenery, history and outdoor adventures.