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Catania Sicily, a place not to be taken for granted

Catania Sicily, a place not to be taken for granted

Admit it: probably the first thing that springs to mind when you say Sicily is “the Mafia”; and popular media – and some grim history – has taught us that. But today we were thinking we’d talk about Catania Sicily, a place not to be taken for granted.

Before it became the legendary fief of the Italian Mafia, Sicily has been the biggest island of the Mediterranean Sea – and a place of outstanding beauty. Vastly out-shadowed by Palermo – and for no objective reason, as we will see – Catania is the second largest city on the island of Sicily and has seen a lot of history unravel since its foundation in the 8th century BC.

Known for its seismic history caused by its menacing neighbor, Etna Volcano, Catania saw an age of gold during the Renaissance, when it rose to an unparalleled cultural and economic prominence.

Reminiscent of those times are superb buildings and squares that will make you forget the preconceptions you might have stepped in town with. The scenery and the sun will welcome you to a land of beauty and history.

One of the symbols of Catania is the Cathedral of Sant’Agata, a 3rd century Christian martyr who is very loved and revered in town. Construction began in the 11th century and a restoration was needed after the 1693 earthquake.

The spacious Piazza del Duomo is the best starting point for a walking tour. Here, you mustn’t miss the Elephant Fountain and the Garibaldi Gate.

Built of lava stone in 1239, the Ursino Castle is a top medieval attraction in town and the Museo Civico will welcome you to Sicilian history from its prehistoric dawns up to this day.

And of course, for the most adventurous of you, there is a trip to Mount Etna – though don’t expect to get near the crater, because the volcano is never genuinely dormant.

To negotiate the city, Catania car rental is an excellent option.