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Basic information

  • Area: 180.88 km² (69.8 sq mi)
  • Calling Code: +3995
  • Currency: Euro (€) (EUR)
  • Population (EST): 296,303
  • Official language: Italian
  • Time Zone: CET (UTC+1)

Catania – Overview

The city of Catania is to be found approximately halfway down Sicily's eastern coastline, overlooking the Ionian Sea and itself overlooked by Mount Etna. The cities origins go back nearly three thousand years with many of its ancient structures in evidence. Over the millennia Sicily has come under the control of a number of other cultures; Greek, Roman and Islamic rule have all contributed to the character and Catania like the rest of Sicily has that character that is distinctly different from the rest of Italy. Being so close to Mount Etna has meant that for a very long time the city and region has been at the mercy of both seismic and volcanic events, but a characteristic of Catania is that it has always dusted of the ashes and carried on and forward.

Due to its central coastal location Catania is an excellent base from which to explore the eastern side of Sicily and has transport links around the region, however some places are only accessible by car. From Catania there are many places that take an hour or less to travel to. There are many historic sights to be seen and buildings from various era's in Sicily's past, including Greek, Roman and Arab architecture. The Islands UNESCO World Heritage Sites are also easily reached from the city as are nature reserves and national parks. If you prefer not to drive or take a coach to travel north to Messina or south to Syracuse, the trains run almost the full length of the east coast.

For shopping, Via Etnea is the place to head for as some of it is now pedestrianised, making for a much more relaxing experience and no typical Italian traffic to contend with. Via Etnea has not just local shops but also the bigger brand names, Giorgio Armani being just one such famous name.

Being a coastal city means one thing to diners, some of the freshest seafood to be found in Sicily and the cities fish restaurants take their local resources seriously. As you would expect from almost anywhere in Italy the local eateries are rightly proud of their local produce. If you speak Italian it's a good idea to find where the locals themselves eat, as its rare to find an Italian/Sicilian who is not passionate about what they eat.

Accommodation in Catania ranges from a 5 star hotel all the way to bed and breakfast and self catering so it is really down to your budget and taste. In general the city's accommodation is priced reasonably and of good quality. If you are prepared to drive a little way from the city there a places to stay in rural locations that can offer peace and quiet in tranquil suroundings.

The climate Catania is rarely cold, although it's fair to say the locals would consider the winter cold, whereas for example a north European would regard it as simply cool. If you visit during the winter and don't want to look like a tourist take note of what the locals wear an dress in a similar way. The winter temperature averages around 15.5 degrees Celsius and summer about 32 degrees Celsius.