11 things to do and see in Catania and 1 not to do

11 things to do and see in Catania and 1 not to do

Anyone who craves get to know Sicily can't help but visit Catania. Of course, Palermo, Messina, Syracuse, Trapani and the other provinces are all worth a visit, and yet it must be recognized that the city of Etna has something more. First, the vitality and symbiotic relationship with the volcano (Etna): these are two characteristics that make Catania extraordinarily similar to Naples. Then there is the pervasiveness of the barocco which defines the entire historic city center. Not surprisingly, in 2002, the center of Catania was declared by theUnesco World Heritage Site. Again: the parks, the University, the food and the nightlife. Everything contributes to the charm of youngest and most dynamic city in Sicily. Below, our tips on what to do and see in Catania. Happy reading.

1 The Cathedral of Sant'Agata

For lovers ofreligious architecture, in particular of the Sicilian baroque Metropolitan Cathedral of Sant'Agata represents a real gem. What then, the baroque, is only a part (albeit a majority) of the architecture of this church located south of the homonymous square. The are also clearly visible Norman and Swabian traces, testimonies of subsequent reconstructions the building has undergone over the centuries. In fact, after theoriginal construction at the end of'XI century, the church of Sant'Agata has undergone radical interventions both after the earthquake of 1169 and following the fire that struck it in 1194. Then, in 1693, the most serious episode of all: another earthquake, with its epicenter in the nearby Val di Noto, which forced the almost entire church to be rebuilt (on that occasion the cathedral bell tower collapsed causing hundreds of victims). From here, the preponderance of Sicilian Baroque, which characterizes both theinterior, with 3 naves and a Latin cross, that the outside of the church. Especially the exterior, made byPalermo architect Giambattista Vaccarini, as an engraving under the lintel of the entrance portal reminds us (the interior, on the other hand, was made by Girolamo Palazzotto, architect and monk born in Messina). Finally, a curiosity for opera lovers: the remains of the young man are kept in the church composer Vincenzo Bellini (1801 -1835) reported in 1876 in his hometown after his initial burial in the Parisian cemetery of Père-Lachaise.

2 Palace of the Elephants

The Town Hall of Catania is an example of advanced balance between the'Baroque decorative exuberance and sense of order and measure of the neoclassical style. A synthesis difficult to achieve, especially considering that it took almost a century to build the building (from 1696 to 1780). The initial project was of Giovan Battista Longobardo, while three of the four facades (east, west, south) were built by the Palermo architect Giambattista Vaccarini architect - we have seen - also of the external facade of the cathedral and of other city monuments. The last (north) facade was the work of Carmelo Battaglia older brother of the highly rated Francesco. In the hall of the Town Hall, also known as "Palazzo degli Elefanti", two are kept carriages of the eighteenth century, one of which is used on February 3 to transport the mayor to the church of San Biagio, in piazza Stesicoro. In this church, where the furnace used for the martyrdom of the saint, the first citizen, according to tradition, offers wax to Sant'Agata on the day of its anniversary. Also from Palazzo degli Elefanti, to be precise from grandstand on the first floor after the entrance hall, the public authorities of Catania attend the festivity and fires in honor of the Patron Saint.

3 Church of the Badia di Sant'Agata

Not far from the Cathedral and Palace of the Elephants there is another monument that absolutely deserves to be visited. We are talking about the Badia di Sant'Agata Church su Corso Vittorio Emanuele. According to many critics this is the building that most reveals the art of Giambattista Vaccarini, the architect who contributed most to the Baroque reconstruction of Catania after the 1693 earthquake. Dalla facade, to the decorations of portal, up to the imposing dome, follow each other stylistic solutions of great artistic value, with the further advantage, recognized by many, of not completely upsetting the previous system (in this specific case what remained of the female Benedictine monastery of Sant'Agata). The interior, a Greek cross and finely decorated, it lives up to its external splendor. Also worth seeing are the statues of Sant'Euplio, San Giuseppe, Sant'Agata, the Immaculate Conception and San Benedetto. For more information on the history, the timetables of the ss. masses and guided tours please refer to place (badiasantagata.wordpress.com) and to the facebook page (Badia di Sant'Agata Church).

4 The tour of the Baroque monuments

Municipal Palace, the Cathedral and the Abbey of Sant'Agata are only three of the baroque monuments of Catania, but there is much more to see. The churches (Santa Chiara, Santa Maria dell'Aiuto and Casa di Loreto, San Biagio, SS. Trinità, San Nicola, Sant'Agata al Carcere etc.); the Benedictine monastery; the University building (in the picture); Porta Uzeda e Porta Ferdinandea. A truly impressive tour of the monuments that well explains why Unesco protection. The path of the "Catania rebuilt" (the reference is in fact to the Baroque reconstruction following the earthquake of 1693) it is therefore essential to deepen the "genius loci" of the Etna city.

5 Bellini Garden

Agree, it is no longer the park that at the end of early nineteenth century stood by right between most beautiful gardens in Europe but “'a Villa“, as the people of Catania call it, retains great charm. A green lung full city ​​center where walk, run e let the children play in complete tranquility. Of course, the distance from the glories of the past is considerable, but there remain numerous traces of the glory that was. One is the avenue of "Illustrious men", west of the park, with busts of the most famous characters in Italian and Catania history: Giuseppe Mazzini, Giovanni Verga, Luigi Capuana and the poet Mario Rapisardi just to mention a few. The Bellini who gives the garden its name is obviously the composer from Catania Vincenzo Bellini (1801 -1835) whose remains, as already mentioned above, are kept in the city cathedral in a tomb created by the Italian sculptor and patriot Giovanni Battista Tassara (the monument in the center of Piazza Stesicoro, on the other hand, was made by the sculptor Giulio Monteverde) . In short, a wooded park, one of the four public parks in Catania, which contributes to the quality of life of the city of Etna.

6 San Giovanni Li Cuti

Un fishing village in the center of Catania. This is the "miracle" of San Giovanni Li Cuti, little one fishing village survived the building expansion all around. More than survived, "englobed" by the surrounding building which, paradoxically, has contributed to increasing the charm of this town which has become, over the years, one of the main hubs of the Catania nightlife. Meanwhile, i colored goiters some fishermen "resist" in the marina, ready to supply the restaurants of the area with excellent fresh fish. And, as if that were not enough, there is also one black sand beach that the municipality has diligently endowed with showers, locker rooms, chemical toilets e walkways for the disabled. In short, by day and by night, in summer but also in winter, San Giovanni Li Cuti is one of the unmissable places in Catania, it is no coincidence that it is very popular with residents and tourists.

7 Underground Catania

To render Catania and Naples similar there is not only the symbiotic relationship with the volcano (Etna and Vesuvius). Even the underground, with tunnels extended for hundreds of meters, is a feature that unites the two cities. Among other things, just as it happened in Naples, also in Catania underground quarries served as anti-aircraft shelters during the second World War. Discover the belly of the Sicilian city is therefore a must-do. Give her Terme achillee (or achilliane), alla church of San Giovanni alle Grotte, until the Benedictine monastery there are several routes to do in the city.

8 Museum of the landing

All Sicily, and Catania in particular, during the second World War they paid a very high price. We previously mentioned how the underground city largely became an improvised air-raid shelter used by the people of Catania to protect themselves from incessant Anglo-American bombing preparatory to landing in July 1943. The museum retraces this particular and decisive historical phase and does so in a non-oleographic way, that is, not uncritically exalting the role of liberators played by those who a few days later became the allied troops. On the contrary, the aim is to reconstruct in the most truthful way possible the terrible everyday life that marked the life of the people of Catania in those terrible days of the summer of 1943. There are even those who have compared the museum of the landing of Catania to that, certainly more famous, of Arromanches which, on the other hand, traces the phases of the landing in Normandy. The Historical Museum of the Landing in Sicily 1943 it is located in Viale Africa, not far from the Central Station and about 10 minutes (on foot) from the historic center.

9 Circumetnea railway

Traveling to the rhythm of "Muntagna". This is the magic of the Circumetnea that connects Catania to villages on the slopes of Etna. It is good to clarify immediately that this is a railway line conceived from the beginning (1889), to satisfy the growing ones mobility needs of the population around the city, and therefore we would be very wrong to consider it a tourist line. Nonetheless, if you like traveling, more than going on vacation, and therefore you are not afraid of the absence of air conditioning, the journey from Catania to Riposto (3 hours approx.) it is an experience to try. A journey into the contradictions of a land where al degradation of the suburbs of the initial section from Catania to Misterbianco is soon counterbalanced by the lava landscape by Adrano and Randazzo. Not to mention the wine landscape, subject of specific tours (train + bus) organized by the same company with a visit to some of the most important wineries in the area. For more information on history, lines and the cost of ticket consult the Official site (www.circumetnea.it) and the facebook page (Circumetnea Railway).

10 The beaches

Catania, among many things, is also one seaside resort. And what a seaside resort! Starting from Plaia, 18 kilometers of coastline south of the city, passing through San Marco of Catalbiano, Praiola of Giarre, Simeto mouth, Marina di Cottone Fiumefreddo and the others there really is something for everyone tastes and needs. Equipped beaches; free sections; pebble beaches; more or less hidden bays. Obviously, Plaia remains the main point of reference for residents and tourists. First of all because it is easily accessible, but above all because nothing is really missing: concession factories; hotel facilities; parking lots; Cafe; restaurants and a sea ​​that has nothing to envy to many more celebrated tourist destinations in the Mediterranean. In short, Catania is always a dream, even more in summer. Seeing is believing!

11 Street food

Discovering Catania - we said - does not mean enjoying only its marvelous baroque architecture. There is the sea and there is the food Especially the food. Unless you are on a diet (in which case, however, it is advisable to postpone the visit to the city) cannoli e arancini are a must try. Yes, you read that right: unlike Palermo, where "arancine" is said, in Catania it is pronounced "arancini" and woe betide you. The derby between the two most important cities in Sicily, even before being football, is linguistic and gastronomic. But the flavors of Catania cuisine are not only those of confectionery and deli. So many seafood dishes, and it could not be otherwise since it is a seaside town, moreover overlooking the beautiful and very fishy Ionian Sea (the two markets di "Fera 'o Luni" in piazza Carlo Alberto and the "Piscaria" in Piazza Alonzo di Benedetto). Woe to finally forget the horse meat, authentic passion of the doc. Give her Meatballs sausages, horse meat is the distinctive trait of Catania gastronomy under the motto “arrusti and eat”.

1 Do not show off valuables in certain areas of the city

In some areas of the city it is better do not wear or carry with you (in your backpack, bag, etc.) valuables. So, pay attention to how you dress and where you put your wallet. Having said that, do not worry: they are the normal precautions to be taken in all major cities for avoid unpleasant inconveniences

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