Located on the eastern coast of Sicily, Catania is the second largest city in Italy. This gorgeous city sits at the base of Mount Etna and is home to a multitude of stunning buildings and majestic palaces, many of which were built during the 18th century following the eruption of Mount Etna. The land surrounding Catania has very much been affected by the volcano. The beaches in particular are predominantly made up of black and yellow volcanic sand. Elsewhere, the land in Catania has been formed by the lava that which swallowed the city in 1669. Known for its Baroque architecture, the main features of the city are its stunning buildings and urban design with downtown Catania being classed as a world heritage site. You’ll find a wide range of restaurants and eateries hidden down the alleys and streets serving authentic Sicilian cuisine. The weather is typically warm throughout the year, with summer temperatures reaching approximately 27˚C in August – the hottest month of the year.
Catania might not have the fastest pace when compared to the likes of Milan, but the one way systems and narrow streets mean that it’s important to make sure you’re in a car that you can manoeuvre easily – plus most of the attractions are in the city centre.
Driving in Catania
Road Driving Side
Urban Speed Limit
Rural Speed Limit
Motorway Speed Limit
Important things to note
The city is home to some complex one-way systems, and part of the centre has been pedestrianised so take care when driving through the city.
It’s advisable to exercise a good level of personal security and be aware of pickpockets or other petty thieves – particularly bag snatching in the city centre.
Few people speak English in Sicily, so learning some basic Italian would serve you well during your stay.
Highlights & Hotspots
No holiday to Catania would be complete without taking a trip to Mount Etna. The Volcano trek is one of the most popular things to do in Catania, with a variety of organised tour groups offering excursions to Mount Etna.
The Roman Amphitheatre once seated up to 16,000 spectators and was considered the second largest after to Rome’s Coliseum. While you’ll only see what remains of the amphitheatre, history buffs will love exploring this historical site and learning of its once impressive magnitude.
For more historical sightseeing, visit the Ursino Castle (Castello Ursino) – once a coastal fortress before being reclaimed by the lava following the eruption of Mount Etna in 1693.
If you’re thinking about hitting the beach there are range to choose from in Catania. San Giovanni Licuti Beach is a sight to behold owing to the black volcanic sand making up the shoreline. La Scogliera beach also has an interesting history and a reef that has been formed by Etna’s eruptions.
Catania-Fontanarossa Airport (aka Vincenzo Bellini Airport) is located less than 3 miles from Cantania and is accessible via the A19 motorway.