Catania is a multisensory city, in that it can captivate all your senses.
Catania is a city that has two historic souls: one ancient, which lies underground under a blanket of lava, and can be visited with an exciting tour; the other, more visible, a Baroque one, formed in the 700s after the volcanic eruption and earthquake that razed it to the ground in the late 600s.
The myths and legends that speak of these parts are countless: Homer, in his Odyssey, talks of the presence of the Cyclops, creatures with just one eye, which probably go back to the devastating presence of Vulcan, who launched rocks of fire from his mouth.
Getting to Catania is an incredible experience.
Immediately, you are aware that it is a city of a thousand contradictions where the inhabitants suddenly appear sociable and peculiar. The first contradiction is expressed by the two colours that characterise the city: the dark volcanic rock, which dominates, and the white of the limestone in the nearby areas with which all the Baroque adornments are created.
The architectural beauty of the city is, unfortunately, not accompanied by the typical cleanliness of any other city of art, even if here there is plenty of art, which the Catanese often do not notice.
If the colours amaze the sight, the flavours amaze your palate and taste. Here, cooking is an important, serious thing.
Food is a life mission and not just a need; eating well is fundamental. All it takes is a walk through the open-air markets that, every morning, liven up two of the city’s important areas, to enjoy this land’s festival of fruit and to understand how much subsequent dynasties of rule (Arabic, Svevo, Norman, Spanish, and French) have conditioned its citizens habits.
The smell of orange blossom, zagara, is a sensation that explodes in your nose, together with jasmine, typical in this area of the Mediterranean.
Catania is a chaotic city: on one side, you have the daily traffic, and on the other, the lively way the Catanese speak.
Catania is a typically southern, Arab city. In the market, things are sold by shouting! Catania is recognised as the most interesting city in the south of Italy because of its nocturnal life and its cultural and playful dynamism.
The historic centre is alive during the day and night. During the day, it is full of restaurants, pubs, bars with live music, and in the night, it fulfils all the needs of its inhabitants and students.
Catania is an important university hub, linked with foreign universities whose students spend long periods in the city, giving it an authentic international feeling. All it takes is walking through the streets of Catania to feel like you are in the centre of the world.
The “Sicilian language” that the Catanese love to speak is part of this Babel, along with Italian. Catania is a city of the sea and mountains. Perhaps the first aspect is better-known, but on Etna, there are ski tracks, shelters, and paths that make staying here very stimulating and interesting during the winter period too.