Catania is an old port town on Sicily’s south coast. It sits at the base of Mt. Etna, an active volcanic volcano which boasts impressive trails leading up into the crater. The central part of the city, Piazza del Duomo, has the richly ornately decorated Catania Cathedral and a wide central square, the scene of centuries of artistic paintings.
In the center of Piazza del Duomo are two museums: the Santagata Natural Park and the Santagata Archaeological Park. The former is a wonderful picnic spot as it is located next to the volcano. Tourists can also enjoy donkey rides, swimming and strolling along the seashore. If one needs a break from the sun, there is always the local cafe to relax in. At night, a bright moon sets off a series of fireworks that light up the sky as the Catania residents take advantage of their unique natural light.
Another must-visit place while in Catania is Militello, the capital of Catania. With a pleasant seaside village ambience, Militello caters mainly to tourists who want to go out for a walk or simply experience the seashore. While in Militello, tourists can try the locally-made Costa Smerano wine, better known as sherry. Other activities to do while in Militello include going around the famous Catania wineries, or taking a stroll at the waterfront. There are a number of day trips available to be made while in Militello, which include:
Catania’s cultural heritage also includes the Uzeda Festival, which is carried out between June and August each year. Thousands of tourists from all over the world visit Uzeda to participate in this celebration of world art and culture. One of the most popular attractions of Uzeda is the bellini stadium, which is made from an amalgam of three types of ancient stone structures. Each structure is sculptured to a scale of one meter, and thus creates a unique design. Visitors can watch the bellini dancers as they make their way through the narrow streets of Uzeda. For an ultimate experience, travelers should try the restaurant Uzeda, which offers an open air bar and is served exclusively on chocolate dipped strawberries.
The last stop on our day trip in Catania is its capital, Santagata, which is best known as the “town of wood”. The wooden mills that once operated in this town were used to produce textiles for the locals and tourists. In addition to being home to thousands of antiques and beautiful buildings, the sant agata is also home to many art galleries and museums that display work of local artists. Some of the most famous ones in Santagata are the Catania Museum, which displays artworks by such artists as Caravaggio; the Museo di Santagata, which is made up of a residential area surrounded by gardens; and the Santagata Theater, which is dedicated to Italian drama, opera, ballets and films. If you want to get away from it all, there is always the chance to experience a refreshing dip in the nearby Rimmie Water.
The highlight of our trip to Catania, however, was the grand finale: the visit to the spectacular Catania Cathedral, with its exquisite bell tower and several smaller chapels. Built entirely of wood, the cathedral was built by the Dominican friars in 1013 and is considered one of the finest examples of medieval architecture in Europe. Although not a religious site, the cathedrals architectural beauty has inspired many works of art, ranging from works of Michelangelo to Leonardo da Vinci. Visitors to Catania are encouraged to take part in the annual process of maintenance, which is currently in progress.