With direct flights from Malta to Catania, you could be exploring this fascinating town, in just under an hour. Catania is undoubtedly one of the most scenic cities in the Italian island of Sicily. Its rugged fertile terrain is punctuated by the volcanic giant of the Mount Etna volcano which looms over the city
Sicily’s second-biggest regional capital is a crucial part of the trade network in the Mediterranean. Catania serves as a critical port of call for shipping, as well as having an international airport, Catania FontanaRossa Airport, makes it an excellent spot for meetings, trade fairs and business get-togethers. But aside from its brilliant location, there’s so much more to Catania. It’s a real hotchpotch of history, cultures and tantalising cuisine.
Here’s some top spots you certainly shouldn’t miss when in Catania!
St Agata’s Churches
As the patron saint of Catania, St Agata’s presence is felt across the city throughout the year. The festival in her honour in February is one of the most famous religious events in the world. You can expect plenty of processions, colourful fireworks and beautiful lights sprawling across the city. Believed to have been born in the city, she has protected the city from earthquakes and of course the inevitable shadow of Mt Etna. You can visit the key locations associated with St Agata at any time of the year. The main Cathedral contains the relics of the beloved saint, and the Church of Sant’Agata al Carcere is built upon the original prison where St Agata was imprisoned
Visit the Old Town
Distinctively Baroque, Catania’s old town offers a great way to spend an afternoon. Secondly, in it’s labyrinth-like streets there’s plenty of top photo opportunities and brilliant eateries. The signature dish of Catania, Pasta Alla Norma, is dedicated to Bellini, for example. What to expect? Well, it consists of fried chunks of fresh aubergine, an intensely rich tomato sauce and salty ricotta cheese….. Buon appetito!
Another must-see location for a taste of Ancient Roman life is the Teatro Romano in Piazza Stesicoro. This impressive open-air amphitheatre dates from the second century AD. What will strike you immediately is just how well preserved the site is. Originally the theatre had the capacity for fifteen thousand spectators. Nowadays, the largest part of of the structure lies under the nearby Via Neve, via Manzoni, Via del Colosseo and Via Penninello. Not long after the 1693 earthquake, its ruins were used as foundations for some buildings that overlook the piazza.
Before you head back to your accommodation, stop off at Castello Ursino. This impressive fortress. Castello Ursino is also known as Castello Svevo di Catania. It was built in the 13th century and served as the royal castle of the Kingdom of Sicily. It is predominantly renowned for its role in the Sicilian Vespers when it became the seat of the Sicilian Parliament.
Catania’s Cathedral is situated right in front of the city’s symbol: an elephant known in the local dialect as “Liotru” – likely a mispronunciation of the name “Eliodoro”. The statue itself is shrouded in folklore and great intrigue. According to local belief, Eliodoro was the artist behind the black lava stone elephant statue. Later, architect Giovanni Battista Vaccarini restored it between 1735 and 1737 and placed it in the middle of the square’s fountain. He added an obelisk on the elephant’s back. Secondly, the obelisk, decorated in Egyptian style, has several mysteries of its own. Amazingly it has never accurately been dated with certainty. Battista Vaccarini also added a globe and a cross to the elephant.
So, what are you waiting for? Your flights from Malta to Catania await you.