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Sicily’s second largest city is an attraction of experiences and impressions for the senses. The sea and Mount Etna, the gigantic volcano, set its limits. It looks like the volcano is the guardian of the city although the city has not stopped reinventing itself after multiple eruptions and earth quakes. Catania, founded by the Greeks in the 8th century BC, is blue and cobalt, and plain: it extends from the mountain as a sheet until reaching the Ionian Sea. It is a mixture of culture, nostalgic and joy. If you are a lover of gastronomy prepared to be delighted with the mixture of local products. Not every thing that glitters in Italy is pasta: discover the local Arancini, (stuffed fried rice balls) a taste explosion. Enjoy the spectacular architecture of its wide streets. Sit in the Piazza del Duomo and open your eyes, real wide, and just enjoy.
Main City Rome
Surface 180 km²
When one thinks of Sicilian gardens, the first place that probably comes to mind is Palermo. The noble palaces of the Kingdom of the two Sicilies are most often associated with the idealized splendor of flowerbeds and carriages. Yet, Catania has a long list of gardens – somewhat secret, as in the novel by Frances Burnett – which are rather overlooked but still very impressive. The type of gardens where you imagine yourself having a picnic or reading a book. And no, I'm not talking about the villa Bellini, the most central and well-known park in the city.
The moment to enjoy the Sicilian gastronomy has arrived. And this charming restaurant, located next to the Santa Agata cathedral is a good example of the importance of traditional cuisine. If you are a seafood fan try their mussels with olive oil and capers, and you will not be let down. And of course, how can one visit Catania without ordering pasta? Whatever your choose you will be delighted, for sure. The “pasta a la Norma” is a city classic and it may surprise you with its refreshing touch of fresh basil and curd cheese. Add to that a good local Etna wine, sure to be different than everything you have ever tried. And then to finish off, try a local dessert such as the “cannoli di ricotta” made with crispy pasta and chocolate flakes.
In all my 26 years, I have never experienced Catania's night life. I have always heard stories about how this city used to be the Milan of the South or the Seattle of Europe and that there was once live music on every corner, everyone danced to rock and how the stadium filled up when a local recording company brought REM here for a concert. Just for the record, that concert was in 1995 and it opened with the then unknown band Radiohead. The rest is history.