When you visit the beautiful island of Sicily, it may be the capital, Palermo, that gets most of the attention but Catania is also well worth a visit. On the east coast of the island, Sicily's second-largest city has a lively and vibrant atmosphere, in no small part because it has a large student population. It's also one of the oldest inhabited spots in Sicily, having been first colonised by the Greeks as long ago as 729BC. Hiring a car in Catania's a great idea because it will also give you a chance to visit Mount Etna, the famous volcano that looms above the city.
If you travel to eat well, Catania is certainly a great place for you. It's renowned for its fantastic cuisine which places a great emphasis on fresh Mediterranean ingredients. Not surprisingly, fresh fish is a real speciality. If you want to see where all this amazing produce comes from, a visit to the city's open-air fish market is a must. If shopping's on the agenda, head for the Via Etnea where you'll find most of the big names as well as smaller independent boutiques. Or, if you want a peaceful haven to retreat to, there's no better place than the Villa Bellini gardens which also boast a great view of Etna. Another reminder of the volcanic nature of the island comes from the Fontana dell'Elefante statue in the Piazza del Duomo. Carved from lava in 1736, it's a playful representation of the city's symbol of an elephant. The same local lava was used to build the imposing second century Teatro Romano. Rent a car in Catania and you'll also be able to visit the ancient cities of Syracuse and Messina which have their own very impressive monuments and fascinating histories to explore.
Opening hours:Mo-Su 0800-2400
Opening hours:Mo-Fr 1000-1800, Sa 1000-1400 1500-1900 Su (on request)
Address:Via Passo del Cavaliere, Contr. Pelacane - Industrial Zone North, Sicily
Opening hours:Mo-Fr 0800-1300 1530-1900, Sa 0800-1200, Su closed
Address:Via Matteo Renato Imbriani 248,
Opening hours:Mo-Fr 0900-1300 1400-1800, Sa-Su closed
Address:Via S. Giuseppe La Rena 19D/E