Located on the Ionian Sea, in the shadow of Mount Etna, Catania’s history is closely linked to the volcano. The buildings and streets in the city are constructed with lava stones giving them a distinctive black colour. Following a severe earthquake in 1693, the city was rebuilt in the Baroque style, becoming thus one of the most impressive examples of the so-called Sicilian Baroque.
The heart of Catania is Piazza Duomo, surrounded by the majestic Baroque cathedral (dedicated to Saint Agata) and the town hall. At the centre lies the symbol of the city - the Elephant Fountain. This black-lava elephant, dating from the Roman times and carrying an ancient Egyptian obelisk, is believed to possess magical powers that calm Etna’s eruptions. Near the square you will find Via Etnea, a busy shopping street, and many other monuments, some of them bearing witness to Catania’s Greek and Roman origins.
The lively soul of the city can be found in the street markets, especially at the fish markets. After an early morning walk through the narrow streets of the city centre, why not have breakfast with a typical Sicilian granita and a brioche? It’s a gastronomic experience you will never forget!
If you are looking for something more adventurous, you can hike to the top of Mount Etna and see the rivers of lava. Or you can travel to Taormina (43 km from Catania) and attend an opera or musical performance in the unique setting of its ancient Greek theatre. On your journey to Taormina, don’t forget to dive into the mythical waters at Cyclops Coast and admire the Cyclops Rocks. According to the epic poem The Odyssey, Cyclops threw one of these rocks at Odysseus.