Writing this a few months after my time in Catania, I look back and think of it as one of my favourite places I visited in Sicily. It was never on my ‘to see’ list, but we purely stayed there because our flight departed from Catania on the Sunday, and we left our villa on the Saturday. But I’m so glad we did stay here, where 24 hours is plenty to explore this raw, gritty but alluring city.
Catania doesn’t get a lot of great press. The second largest city of Sicily is often dismissed in favour of Palermo, the grander capital of the island. And it was perhaps due to low expectations – and having seen so many other wonderful towns in Sicily – that all of us found ourselves really liking it. No less so because Mount Etna looms behind the city, which remains quite a spectacle, but also because it has character, it feels very alive, very local and very un-touristy.
We stayed in a fantastic and very affordable Grand Tour Bed & Breakfast on the Via Umberto – very centrally located between the new and the old town. The host was an absolute dream, and put up with all our questions and favours, called us a taxi and was more than accommodating. If you want something a bit more hotel-like but still affordable there’s the Italian chain hotel UNA Palace Hotel or the smaller Romano Place (which looks rather lovely).
We got very lucky here. I’d read somewhere about a new opening of a Slow Food restaurant in Catania called Me Cumpari Turiddu. We were having drinks around the corner in the afternoon, so decided to walk past briefly and have a look. It looked fantastic – modern but with an Italian feel. Different, with character. A bit like the city. And we had our best dinner here. The menu was inventive (we tried donkey here for the first time), everything was delicious, and I loved the interiors!
Apart from that, we enjoyed a very typical Sicilian breakfast (aranchini, anyone?!) at the popular Pasticceria Savia – again this all day cafe seems to be a place frequented by locals for ice creams, cakes and more savoury pastries. They do good coffee here and have a large terrace on the street.
If you’re looking for a boozy night in Sicily, Catania can certainly offer that. It is a very lively student city, the streets fill up in the evening, and terraces spill over into the road. For aperitivo and shaded pre-dinner drinks head to the very popular Razmataz. After dinner grab a cocktail at the characterful Boheme Mixology Bar, where they design special cocktails specially for you. It’s not cheap but it’s fun and the drinks are good. If you’re going for a big night then head to the Nievski bar in the very buzzing gay district for a bottle of Flo Sicilian wine or multiple beers to end the night.
For more tips on the beautiful Sicily, feel free to check out this post here.