Catania is a city of contrasts, sandwiched between a volatile mountain and the blue waters of the Ionian Sea. Standing in the shadow of Mount Etna on the east coast of Sicily, this is a fertile land that has been shaped by fire and ash deposited by numerous volcanic eruptions. With a lengthy history that dates back to the 8th Century BC, this Italian city has a wealth of ancient treasures to discover. A short walking tour of the city highlights many examples of classical and Baroque buildings, including the ancient remains of a Roman city, complete with amphitheatre, acropolis and aqueduct. At its heart stands Catania Cathedral, a majestic building dedicated to Saint Agatha, notable for its marble statues and dome. The Piazza del Duomo is the city’s main square and is a listed World Heritage Site characterised by magnificent Baroque buildings. In the center of the Piazza is the symbol of the city “u Liotru”, an unusual stone elephant fountain created by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini in 1736. Of course if you want to get up close to one of the biggest attractions in the area, then you’ll need to strap on your walking boots and head out of the city. The awe inspiring sight of Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest active volcano, draws many tourists to the area. Brave adventurers can take a variety of excursions to ascend to the summit and enjoy the superb views of the surrounding landscape and the smoking craters. The volcano can be tackled in a variety of ways, including cable car, 4 x 4 bus and guided walk.
The Mediterranean climate ensures that visitors arriving in the area can enjoy incredibly hot days of sunshine for most of the year. Between June and August temperatures are at their highest, making this a popular time to enjoy a summer holiday.
Although summer in the city is the busiest time of the year, Catania is still pleasant throughout the winter months between December and February, making this an excellent time to enjoy local attractions at a more economical time of the year.