The Baroque Catania | What to See & Do | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya

The Baroque Catania | What to See & Do | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya

If you are traveling to Sicily, Italy, the chances are that you will travel there by plane to one of the major cities on the island - it's really hard to tell which is better - Palermo or Catania. Wayamaya landed on Catania Fontanarossa Airport, so today we give you a travel guide to:

The Baroque Catania, Sicily, Italy

The Baroque Catania | unused? potential

Mount Etna volcano, Catania | Sicily, Italy | source (wikimedia) | wayamaya
Mount Etna volcano, Catania | Sicily, Italy | source (wikimedia)

Catania is the second largest metropolitan city of Sicily (after Palermo) located on the east coast facing the Ionian Sea.
The city was founded in 729 BC by the Greeks, in a short distance (35 km) to the legendary Mount Etna - the highest active volcano in Europe outside the Caucasus.
Over the centuries, Catania metropolitan area has reached one million inhabitants making it the seventh-largest metropolitan area in all of Italy.
Why visit Catania: it is a very busy city that never sleeps and there are countless events and other things to do in Catania.

Catania - in the shadow of Mount Etna

Mount Etna volcano, Catania | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Mount Etna volcano, Catania | Sicily, Italy

Throughout Catania history, the city has been repeatedly destroyed by the lava of the Etna volcano. Catania also survived many smaller and larger earthquakes caused by volcanic activity.
In the eighteenth century, Catania was rebuilt to mitigate the effects of future earthquakes and the city took on its baroque character and UNESCO heritage.
Surprisingly, the shadow of Etna has its uses - most of Catania's buildings are made of black volcanic lava and many of its streets and boulevards are paved with blocks of the lava.
Travel tip: there are almost no pavements in Catania (Piazza del Duomo Elephant Square and parts of Via Etnea are pedestrian zones), so you will sometimes have to walk very close to cars.
Travel tip: we advise to hire a car when traveling to Sicily, but it's best to park your car outside the city center to avoid many wild Catania drivers.

Catania's baroque architecture

scooter, Catania | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Scooter, Catania | Sicily, Italy

The city has a rich and unique culture, but Catania is famous for its monumental baroque architecture.
Unfortunately, most of Catania's baroque buildings and stuccoes don't make a good first impression (especially if it rains - the weather in Catania can change very quickly).
It doesn't matter if you are in Catania's downtown or in its suburbs and if it's an old tenement or a crumbling palazzo - most of the buildings are in a really bad condition and the entire city seems to be very neglected.

The lack of investment in Catania

ruined building, Catania | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
The ruined building, Catania | Sicily, Italy

There are thousands of unrestored, but nevertheless beautiful buildings in Catania. Unfortunately, you can often see poverty through their windows unless they are covered with old wooden blinds.
The lack of investment in Catania is clearly visible and it made us quite sad. It's a pity because we have never seen such a concentration of decorated buildings and almost every tenement house in Catania is a monument by itself.

Moreover, many buildings seem to be abandoned or unfit for habitation. In our opinion, this just doesn't fit into the supposedly growing city that has ambitions to be a modern cultural center, full of life and unique character.
Catania is like the city that has already behind its glory years.

Why is Catania so dirty?

graffiti on building facade, Catania | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Graffiti on the building facade, Catania | Sicily, Italy

It's a pity that graffiti covers most of Catania's building facades. It seems that young people have too much freedom in Catania and there is not enough control over them or there is no proper urban space for them in the city.
Also, the locals seem to not care much about keeping their city and neighborhoods clean and orderly - tons of discarded rubbish items are littering the narrow streets. Sometimes it's quite hard to take a nice photo, without unwanted and ugly views.

The hidden soul of Catania

Monastery of San Nicolò l'Arena, Catania | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Monastery of San Nicolò l'Arena, Catania | Sicily, Italy

There are many beautiful and colorful buildings with a soul in Catania, that just scream for restoration or even an ordinary facade cleaning.
Unfortunately, we have only seen a handful of construction and renovation sites in Catania.
It looks as if the whole Catania region has been forgotten by the government and that there are very little EU funds invested in Catania.

Book your stay in Catania (

Catania highlights - the beauty inside

street full of people, Catania | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
A street full of people, Catania | Sicily, Italy 

Catania is definitely rough on the edges and some might even say that Catania is not tourist-friendly, but it doesn't mean that it's not one of the most interesting towns in the world.
Despite its lack of shining, clean side-walks, Catania is just teeming with life and energy! It's also full of young people and over boarding life (Catania nightlife can last until early in the morning).
Travel tip: you don't need a car to get around Catania - most historic and cultural attractions can be easily visited on foot and it's so easy to get lost in hundreds of small stores, bars, restaurants and other usually family investments like cafes, fish shops and souvenir shops around Catania Old Town.

Idle ways of Catanian lifestyle

Restaurant, Catania | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Restaurant, Catania | Sicily, Italy

Once you get past the first impressions, you will really enjoy the idle ways of Catanian lifestyle.
It's absolutely amazing to see all those people on the streets living according to their own distinctive rhythm.
Catanians are so spontaneous about what and when they do things. They are also really very open and friendly people (their hospitality is legendary).
Travel tip: to enjoy Catania like a local, you need to sit with them in their favorite cafe, eat original Catania food (Catania cannoli is the best in Sicily) and accompany Catanians while they buy things at one of the Catania's open markets.

The real Catania - dilapidated but beautiful

Beautiful door, Catania | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Beautiful door, Catania | Sicily, Italy

After a while, you will most probably change your attitude towards Catania and you will start seeing the hidden beauty of the city.
Of course, Catania might look quite dilapidated outside the main route, but there is no denying that it also has a strongly beating heart.
Travel tip: the best place to stay in Catania is the part near the Via Etnea (Catania's main commercial and shopping street in downtown Catania is perfect for a short accommodation) and enjoy the amazing view of Mount Etna volcano.

Catania and religion

Basilica della Collegiata, Catania | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Basilica della Collegiata, Catania | Sicily, Italy

Religion remains a big deal in Sicily and there are a lot of beautiful (unfortunately mostly fenced) churches in Catania (the most famous is Sant'Agata cathedral). Their interiors are richly ornamented by frescos and religious objects. Also, annual feast days of patron saints are very celebrated throughout Catania.
Travel tip: Catania is known for the Feast of Sant'Agata - from 3 to 5 February each year in Catania there are days full of faith, tradition and devotion to celebrate the Patron of the city.

Why visit Catania? Where to go? What to see?

Fontana dell'Elefante on Piazza del Duomo, Catania | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Fontana dell'Elefante on Piazza del Duomo, Catania | Sicily, Italy

It might be true that Catania has lots of unused potential, but it's still a charming city that has a lot to offer!
For us, traveling to Catania is not about sightseeing, but about trying to truly feel this wonderful city.
Travel tip: you don't have to stay long in Catania (more than two days). If you do, then there are a lot of day trips and adventure excursions all around (Etna is a must, but there are other places near Catania to see like the beautiful seaside of Aci Castello and Aci Trezza).
Travel tip: Catania is also a perfect base for a week or for the whole holiday. There are many amazing museums in Catania and you can relax on one of the beaches (la Playa is probably the best beach in Catania, but it's quite neglected outside the high-season).
Travel tip: Catania is close to two famous cities - Catania is 50 km from Taormina and 70 km from Siracusa.

The true Catania

Restaurant on Via dei Crociferi, Catania | Sicily, Italy | wayamaya
Restaurant on Via dei Crociferi, Catania | Sicily, Italy

Finally, we have one piece of advice for you - if you have enough time then get off the beaten track! Trust us - despite the common belief, Catania is a safe town.
Search for the true Catania - one that isn't advertised in colorful magazines. It might be dirty and unwelcoming at first, but we are warning you - you might fell in love with it.
When to visit Catania: as with all of Italy, it's best to avoid visiting Catania in the summer months (it can be crowded and very hot). Sicilian spring begins in February and we absolutely loved the weather and blossoming trees and flowers in April.

If you haven't seen them already, check out wayamaya series of travel blog posts about useful Sicily travel tips, Sicily travel essentials, where to go in Sicily, things to do in Sicily, the best places to visit in Sicily and the top things to see in Sicily, Italy:

Covid-19 in Sicily

To know more about the state of Covid-19 in Sicily and new Italy Covid-19 travel and entry regulation rules, please check the main WHO website or the Italian website dedicated to Covid-19 before departure to Sicily.
It's usually a good idea to get covered, especially in the current Covid-19 situation. No matter how long you fly, who you fly with, or where you fly. Remember to get insurance and use the one that well-known globetrotters recommend. Keep SAFETY in mind and a SMILE on your face.

Pin It if You Like It!

Wayamaya true travel guide to the Baroque Catania Sicily Italy. Why to visit Catania in the shadow of Mount Etna volcano, what to see in Catania, top things to do in Catania, interesting facts (is Catania dirty? unused potential? safe?) & useful baroque Catania travel tips. Travel to Catania & find real highlights of Catania. Blog #italy #italia #sicily #sicilia #traveltips #catania #travelphotography #traveldestinations #wayamaya
The Baroque Catania | What to See & Do | Sicily, Italy

Have you traveled to Catania in Sicily, Italy? What were your first impressions? Did you have a different traveling experience there? Share your thoughts with us! You can find more Catania photos on @wayamayatravel Instagram and on @wayamayatravel Pinterest photo galleries.

If you have something to say about this post, have any idea to expand it, want to share your examples or you just like wayamaya | travel and lifestyle blog - please comment, like and share it with your friends. We really appreciate it!

In the next post, we will show you beautiful Catania surroundings.

Keep calm and wayamaya!