What to see in Catania

What to see in Catania: a walk cultural walk to discover the main monuments

Ancient Theatre of Taormina

Embedded pearl of art between the slopes of the volcano highest active in Europe, Catania is the
place where sea and mountains reach out their hands, enveloping visitors in a seductive
contrast of landscapes and wonders. Continuing to read our guide, you
we will take you through the streets of its historic centre, where you will discover what to see in one of the most
fascinating of the Mediterranean.

Capital of the province of the same name, Catania is the second most populous city in Sicily. At
evocative naturalistic panorama surrounding it is contrasted by that cultural,
equally prosperous in wealth. Catania is, in fact, the kingdom that gave birth to some of the
great Italians of literature, music and entertainment.

In this cultural walkyou can learn your way around the alleys of the historic centre,
not to miss the main places of interest a must-visit in Catania.

1. Church of the Abbey of Sant'Agata

Church of the Abbey of Sant'Agata Catania

Our itinerary begins at the Church of the Abbey of Sant'Agata. This magnificent building is located in front of the northern elevation of Catania Cathedral and faces Via Vittorio Emanuele II.

The Badia church is one of the most important baroque buildings of the city, by architect Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. Admiring the sunset Looking out from its terraces and its dome, it is a truly unique and exciting spectacle, a must-see during your stay in Catania.

2. Cathedral Square

Cathedral square

Cathedral square is the beating heart of the historical centre and its main square. Located at the meeting point of Via Etnea, Via Vittorio Emanuele II and Via Garibaldi, it is a crossroads ofart, culture and sociality.
It is overlooked by the Cathedral of St. Agatha, the Palazzo degli Elefanti, i.e. the town hall, and in its centre is the symbol of the city: the statue of the Elephant (u Liotru in Sicilian). Towering over the square, the Elephant scrutinises the lives of the inhabitants, ready to welcome them into the city's living room with his everlasting smile.

3. Cathedral of St. Agatha

Cathedral of St Agatha

If you want to get to know Catania in all its facets, you cannot fail to visit the places linked to the cult of Saint Agatha.

The Cathedral of St Agatha, elevated to a minor basilica in 1929, the City Cathedral. It is dedicated to the Virgin Saint Agatha, patron saint of Catania, whose celebrations resonate in a characteristic feastbetween sacred and folklore, which picturesquely involves the entire city between 3 and 5 February. The first construction of the cathedral dates back to around 1090. When, at the behest of Count Roger, it was built on the ruins of the Achilles Baths.

But its history, like that of the city in which it stands, is marked by continuous cycles of collapse and reconstruction caused by earthquakes over the centuries.

4. The Fish Market

Catania fish market

Arriving behind the beautiful Amenano Fountain, located on the southern side of Piazza Duomo, a murmur of indistinct voicesmixed with the intense scent of catch fresh, it will lead you to the characteristic fish market.

The Pescheria is the place where Sicilian fishing tradition meets the typical atmosphere of the Arab souk. A mix of customs and colours typical of a city that has known the succession of dominations, contaminations and influences of peoples from all over the Mediterranean basin and beyond.

5. Address Spa

Catania Address Spa
Terme dell'indirizzo, Catania, by Triquetra, 2006, CC BY-SA 2.5.

Continuing past the Pescheria, through the alleys overlooked by the buildings of the historic centre, you will find yourself in Currò Squarehome to one of the main spa complexes of Roman origin of the city.

Probably built in the late imperial age, between the 3rd-5th centuries AD, they are among the Roman baths best preserved in Europe and an absolute must-visit in Catania.

6. Diocesan Museum

In the direction of the Marina Arches, near the Cathedral of St Agatha, you will encounter the Diocesan Museum based in Palace of the Clerics' Seminary.

In the museum you can admire the sacred furnishings of the cathedral and those of the other towns in the diocese. It is spread over four floors and offers a view of the Piazza Duomo on one side, the Charles V walls and the Archi della Marina on the other. From here, it is also possible to access the Achillian Baths complex.

7. Biscari Palace

Palazzo Biscari Catania
Palazzo Biscari, Catania, by Rabe!, 2017, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

The Palazzo Biscari at the Marina was built in the 17th century on the ruins of the old Palazzo Biscari, at the behest of the Paternò Castello family. Situated on the Walls built by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, it has always housed distinguished visitorsfrom Goethe, who visited the Prince of Biscari in 1787, to the English band Coldplay, who chose it as the set for the Violet Hill video in 2008. Palazzo Biscari is one baroque casket in the heart of the city and certainly among the must-see things in Catania.

8. Palace of Culture

Palazzo della Cultura Catania
Palazzo Platamone, Catania, by Duniasikuzote, 2016, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

Since Catania is a Baroque setting of folklore, but also of culture and entertainment, we cannot fail to take you to visit the venue of the most important events, exhibitions and concerts in the city. The Palazzo della Cultura stands on the remains of the former San Placido Monastery and the older Palazzo Platamone.

The loggia is the only element present in the building dating back to the Middle Ages. In the centre, the Platamone coat of arms can still be seen.

9. Massimo Theatre V. Bellini

Massimo Theatre V. Bellini Catania

On the list of top things to see in Catania, you cannot miss the Massimo Theatre. It was inaugurated in 1890 with the Catanian composer's Norma Vincenzo Bellinito whom it is dedicated.

This is where the most important opera performances of Etna's capital city. It was built to a design by thearchitect Andrea Scala and is inspired by the French style of the Second Empire. Style that can be traced in theOpéra Garnier, Paris.

10. Basilica Collegiata S. Maria dell'Elemosina

Basilica Collegiata S. Maria dell'Elemosina Catania

On the western slope of Via Etna, you will find yourself admiring the Basilica Collegiata S. Maria dell'Elemosina. It was built, not without setbacks, on the ancient pagan temple of Proserpine.

Razed to the ground by the terrible earthquake of 1693, its reconstruction made it one of the outstanding examples of late baroque Catania.

11. University Building (University Square)

University Square Catania

An absolute must is one of Catania's central squares: University Square. So called because it is home to the Rectorate of theUniversity of Catania.

The University Building underwent numerous renovations by architects Francesco and Antonino Battaglia, e Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. The building covers the area of an entire city block. Inside there is a cloister-like courtyard, while in the main hall, frescoed by Giovan Battista Piparoa tapestry with the Aragonese coat of arms stands out behind the academic podium. In the surrounding square you can admire four artistic bronze candelabra, made by sculptors from Catania Mimi Maria Lazarus e Domenico Tudisco in 1957, representing four ancient local legendsGammazita, the Paladin Uzeda, the Pii brothers and Colapesce.

12. Bellini Museum

Palazzo Gravina (Museum-Belliniano) Catania
Palazzo Gravina Cruyllas in Catania, by Luca Aless, 2016, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

Continuing along the cultural route you will reach the Bellini Museum, in Piazza San Francesco. Located in the house where the Catanese composer was born, on the first floor of Gravina Cruyllas Palace. Inside, you can see various relics related to the life of Vincenzo Bellini and his family: including paintings, books, autographs, original scores, musical instruments and the composer's death mask.

13. Ancient Theatre and Odeon

Roman Theatre and Odeon Catania

In the heart of its historical centre, Catania welcomes, within walking distance of each other, the Greek-Roman Theatre and theOdeon.

The first was built in the 2nd century AD next to an existing structure from the Greek era. It could have housed up to 7,000 spectators and its marbles were used for the construction of St Agatha's Cathedral. Parts of the theatre suffered copious damage with successive eruptions and earthquakes.

The Odeon, on the other hand, is a semicircular structure that in Roman times hosted dance performances and concerts, and is still the venue for numerous summer shows.

14. Giovanni Verga Museum

Museum-Giovanni-Verga-Catania

Continuing to Via Sant'Anna, it is possible to visit, on the second floor of the building at number 8, the house in which the verist writer Giovanni Verga lived together with his family.

The building was bought and restored by the Region of Sicily when the last heir of the family passed away. In 1980, it was turned into a literary museum. Inside, the original furnishings are preserved, as well as the writer's library of around 2600 volumes and some copies of Verga's manuscripts.

15. Ursino Castle

One of the main places of interest, an emblem of Catanese majesty, is the Ursino Castle which today houses the City Museum. It stands in the wide Piazza Federico di Svevia, the site where the first settlements of the Greek polis of Katane historically resided.

It was built at the behest of Frederick II of Swabiahosted numerous Aragonese rulers and was the seat of parliament during the Sicilian Vespers.

16. Benedictine Monastery

Benedictine Monastery Catania

The walk continues until reaching the Monastery of San Nicolò l'Arenalocated in the historic centre of Catania. It is located in Piazza Dante and consists of a Benedictine monastic building and a monumental 18th-century church.

Since 2002 it has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site as a 'jewel of late Sicilian Baroque'. Its beauty and historicity make it one of the most important stops on your visit to Catania.

17. St Nicholas Church

Church San Nicolò Catania

La Church of St Nicholas is one of the most attractive places in the city, which, following its reopening, has also recently become a among the most beautiful attractions to see in Catania. Adjacent to the Benedictine Monastery, it is the building for the Catholic worship largest and tallest on the island, with its 105 metres long, 48 metres wide naves and a maximum height of about 66 metres at the dome.

18. Convent of the Cruciferous

Convent of the Crociferi Catania
Catania Chiostro Gesuiti, by Burgundo, 2011, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5

Strategically located in the centre of the city of Etna is the majestic Convent of the Cruciferous Fathers. A fascinating place, built around 1770, whose dimensions fully reflect the importance that the Cruciferous Fathers held in the social fabric of Catania.

Commissioned to be a place to house the Order, but also to perform all the typical rituals of the Catholic religion. To date, it is one of the most symbolic buildings visitable in Catania.

19. Via Crociferi

Via Crociferi Catania
Via Crociferi, Catania, by Urban~commonswiki, 2005, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5

A cultural walk in the city of Etna cannot fail to stop at one of the most beautiful streets in Italy: Via Crociferi. The street runs between Piazza San Francesco and the Triumphal Arch of San Benedetto, here you can experience amovie atmosphere. Not surprisingly, it was the film set of some historical Italian filmssuch as Zeffirelli's Storia di una Capinera and Faenza's I Vicerè.

The arch of Via Crociferi is linked to a legend that any Catanese in the vicinity will no doubt be able to tell you, as you admire the precious buildings along the street.

20. Villa Cerami

Villa Cerami Catania
Villa Cerami, Catania, by Triquetra, 2006, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

Villa Cerami is today home to the Department of Lawbut was once the home of the Red family of Ceramiwhose name it now bears. Located at the end of Via Crociferi, it is still an unmissable place of interest in Catania and one of the most prestigious buildingsalso a legacy of the Baroque in Catania.

21. Piazza Stesicoro

Piazza Stesicoro Catania

Continuing along this route, during your visit to Catania, you will find yourself walking along Piazza Stesicoro. A square with a rectangular plan, located at the crossroads of two important arteries of the city: Via Etnea and Corso Sicilia.

The square houses at one end the remains of the Roman amphitheatreon the other a statue of composer Vincenzo Bellini. It also acts as a hub in the life of the Catanese as it is located a few steps away from the Fera or Luni, the characteristic city market held every day just a few steps from the square.

22. Roman Amphitheatre

Roman Amphitheatre Catania

Only one section of Catania's Roman amphitheatre can be seen, the one on display in the western part of Piazza Stesicoro.

It was built in Roman imperial eraaround the 2nd century, in the vicinity of the Montevergine hill. In this area, which today is the heart of the historic centre Catania, in the past there was a necropolis.

23. Villa Bellini

Villa Bellini Catania

Walking up Via Etnea, at the end of this guide to the sights to see in Catania, you can take a well-deserved break in the city's green lung: "Bellini" park.

The garden was built in the 18th century, but has undergone numerous modifications and expansions over the years. On the western side of Villa Bellini, it is possible to walk along the Avenue of 'Illustrious Men'busts of the most famous people in Catania and Italian history.


As you will have gathered from this artistic and cultural itinerary on Catania's main monuments, its historical centre is studded with unmissable places e interesting tidbits.

When you decide to embark on your journey of discovery in Catania, Ferrini Home will be happy to host you in one of exclusive flats located in the heart of the city, so as to easily reach each of these attractions.

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