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Why I Went To Catania For 3 Days And Stayed For 2 Months

Posted on April 16th, by Peter Parkorr in Italy, Picture Perfect, Sicily. 7 comments

Catania is one of the two big cities in Sicily. Palermo is the other one, nearly on the opposite side of the island. A lot of people prefer Palermo to Catania, but not me. I’ve put a few photos of Catania together to try to explain why.

Catania Ancient Amphitheatre

There’s more to Catania than meets the eye.

Catania has a pretty city centre, popular with shoppers, there are some impressive churches and facades, although you don’t have to stray far to find more run down areas. It’s a big university town, so the night life is excellent. Bodies pack together in the streets outside the bars and not inside. It’s usually too hot and the Italians love to smoke, but there’s always lots of live music to draw in the crowds.

Food and drink is cheap and delicious in most places. The fish market in the mornings is great for a wander, to watch the sellers gesturing at each other and bartering with customers. And the city feels very lived in. It’s a very down-to-earth vibe.

Catania Elephant Statue

The symbol of the city is this 2000 year old Elephant of unknown origin


Catania Fountain Fish Market

Walk behind this fountain in the main square to find the daily markets


Via Giuseppe Garibaldi Catania

Via Giuseppe Garibaldi leading away from the centre, Piazza del Duomo


Ancient Roman Anfiteatro Romano, Photos of Catania

The recently discovered ruins of a Roman amphitheatre that sprawls under the living city


Catania – it’s not Palermo

Palermo is the larger and more affluent city on the island, with its buildings and city centre in better repair. But we’re still in Sicily – it’s no Florence. There are lots of attractive sights in the city and nearby, like the huge Cathedral at Monreale. The Catanians say the people from Palermo think they are something special, and like to think of themselves as having more sophisticated tastes. Maybe they do have more sophisticated tastes. One of my favourite things to do in Catania was to get a tasty roast chicken with chips from Mr Pollo for €4.50 and split it with someone! Failing that a horse steak in a bun, barbecued by one of the restaurants by the side of the road for only €3, was just the ticket on a night out. And when you order fish here, it will taste like fish – not cream, or white wine or garlic. Only the delicate taste of the fish, cooked *just* enough.

Looking down Via Crociferi

Just a side road in Catania that you might wander up to find your friend’s bar


Catania Church Sicily, Photos of Catania

Things you find on a side street in Catania


Derelict church on Piazza Carlo Alberto, Catania

Things you find in other market squares of the city


Palazzo Chierici Catania At Night

Things you find lit up at night


In Catania it’s rare for people to put on airs, everyone is quite happy along this volcanic coast. With Mount Etna sitting in the background and the sun’s heat stinging the black rocks, people take things as they come. Preferably with ice. They like their food cooked simply, without too much fuss. If you are a fan of simple luxuries like I am, it’s hard not to like it here. The secret to the Sicilian lifestyle seems to be that there is no secret. Just relax, about everything. Take things as they come.

Enjoy a few more photos of Catania from the couple of months I spent there. I had already been WWOOFing in Sicily for two previous months, and then I found a great hostel-family that took me in at Ostello del Plebiscito. I’m writing about them next!


More photos of Catania

Catania University buildings

Balconies and façade of a building on Piazza del Universita

Cattedrale di Sant'Agata, photos of Catania Sicily

Cattedrale di Sant’Agata, also known as the Duomo


Anfiteatro Romano Catania

Another view of the remains of the Roman Amphitheatre, which is roughly the same size as the Colosseum in Rome


Street Art Sicily Catania Graffiti

Spotted on a side street. A post on street art in Catania also coming up!


Metal figurines, Photos of Catania Sicily

Curious characters hanging about in Catania’s central squares


Italians favourite letter

How do Italians ask if you have a problem? ‘A, A, A!’ And occasionally an ‘O!’.


Catania Duomo Cattedrale Statue

A statue outside the gardens of the Duomo


Elefanti di Catania, Photos of Catania Sicily

Another shot of the infamous Catanese elephant



Intriguing detail on the fountain. The earlier civilisation here may have valued hard work more! But I admit, it is too hot.

Metalwork sculptures Catania Sicily

That’s all for now! Stand tall and keep an eye out for more. ;)

All photos are copyright © Peter Parkorr 2015