Catania is a place defined by its location and, nestled into the shadows of Mount Etna, right between the snowy peaks and the stunning azure blue waters of the Ionian coast, the city offers visitors a whole host of historical and cultural attractions. Baroque churches and elegant palaces are sandwiched between lively cafes that exude a modern friendly vibe and a warm hospitable feel.
The city is the main hub in the province of Catania, but the surrounding countryside also has much to be discovered. Along its coastline, little bays are hidden between vineyards and off the beaten track paths lead to cliffs, fields, valleys and almond groves. This is a fabulous city to spend a few days in before heading off to explore more of the island of Sicily.
Eating out is an integral part of Italian culture and in Catania it is no different. We have discovered five different restaurants definitely worth a visit.
Here, the homemade pasta is the big attraction and as you sit down and choose the pasta dish of your choice, you can guarantee that la nonna (the Grandma, in Italian) will be making it to order. You might have to wait a while for your dish but you won’t notice if you order yourself some wine and delicious antipasti to start. Italians never eat in a rush so if you are planning to eat on the run, this restaurant is not for you. Come here when you have time on your hands and can really indulge in the homemade delights and the family friendly atmosphere.
Trattoria U Fucularu
This is a real family run Sicilian gem. The mother is in the kitchen, the brother is working the grill and the dad serves the apperitivi. The décor inside is very low key but the atmosphere is very welcoming and the service here is excellent. Chairs and tables are mix and match but often this is a sign that the food is behind the reputation of the restaurant rather than it relying on fancy design. Again homemade pasta is served and if you fancy trying lots of Sicilian flavours, make sure you begin with the antipasti. It is served buffet style so that you can pick and choose.
As with most good Sicilian restaurants, it is the ones such as this that are hidden away from view that are the best. The rather subtle entrance belies what lies inside. Staff is more than welcoming here and as you squeeze in and join other diners on communal tables you will feel right at home. There is a blackboard menu that changes daily and although you may have to wait for a table, it is definitely worth it. Millefoglie makes a lovely place for a local lunch.
This restaurant is a great place if you are looking for somewhere a bit more romantic. Staff is welcoming and helpful and the menu is written in English too. It is the traditional Pasta alla Norma that is the speciality here and you really must try the delightful eggplant pasta sauce served with smoked ricotta.
This eclectic restaurant serves fabulous food and is located right on the seafront. If the weather is good you can sit outside on the terrace and enjoy looking out over the sea. The fish and meat are wonderful here and are served with a touch of originality fused with the traditional Sicilian dishes. If you love fish, this is one for you.
How to Get There: Catania
Catania has its own airport, Catania Fontanarossa, that is well served by flights coming in from most of the major European cities. You can fly into Catania direct from Rome, Venice, Madrid, London, Manchester, and Paris, among many others. For swift and reliable airport shuttles into the city, book with Shuttle Direct and you will not be disappointed. Excellent service comes as standard and you can book in advance to save any delays when you arrive. For door to door service on shared or private transfers, we at Shuttle Direct are there for you.
Where to Stay
Hotel Biscari – This hotel in a converted historic building in the city centre is only 200m from the main cathedral. Boasting spacious rooms and air conditioning, the Hotel Biscari is a clean and reliable low budget accommodating option. Here you can enjoy free Wi-Fi and an al fresco breakfast with lovely views of the Mediterranean Sea. Staff here is very helpful and can offer advice on what to see and do in the city.
Romano House – This beautiful hotel, set in another historic building in the Baroque area of the city, dates back to the 18th century and was meticulously brought back to life by an experienced architect. The rooms at Romano House are luxurious and air conditioning is provided in all of them. There is a garden on the roof, a gym, and an excellent restaurant that has a Sicilian menu but also serves other Mediterranean dishes. The cathedral and other attractions are only a stroll away, so this mid range hotel is a great choice.
Romano Palace – This beachfront hotel is real treat and the perfect option for those wanting to spend a bit more. There is a fantastic restaurant here that serves wonderful local specialities, a stunning pool with hydromassage, and rooms lavishly furnished with bright elegant colours. All rooms have balconies, Wi-Fi and LCD TV. For a very special indulgence, why not enjoy a breakfast of Prosecco and strawberries al fresco with stunning views of Mount Etna as your backdrop? There are extensive gardens at the Romano Palace, a hotel porter and valet parking.