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 Syracuse Free Walking Tou

Syracuse Free Walking Tour

Every Tuesday & Friday afternoon (summer months and Christmas period)

Etna day trip from Syracuse

Catania, on the east coast of Sicily, is famous for its position, direct under the volcano Etna, but is also a town full of life. Visiting Catania it's possible to admire the magnificent baroque churches and the "palazzi" of the ancient aristocratic families but you will also discover the typical Sicilian folklore walking through the ancient fish markt "La Pescheria". What have you absolutely to see in Catania?

We suggest to begin your visit from the southern entrance to the town, the via Etnea, the main road of the town. You can start your walk at Porta Uzeda, the ancient town's gate which gives access to Piazza Duomo, the cathedral square.

 Here is located the beautiful Sant'Agata cathedral, (openings every morning until 12.30 and in the afternoon from 4.30). The church has Norman origins but was rebuilt in baroque style by the architect Giovan Battista Vaccarini during the 18th century. Inside the cathedral it's possible to see many masterpieces: the mausoleum of the composer Vincenzo Bellini, the graves of the Aragonese kings and the relics of St. Agatha, the patron saint of Catania. The relics are taken in procession every year during the St. Agatha feast. At the cathedral it's also possible to visit the museum with the treasury or the ancient terme Achilliane (openingi 9 am -1 pm, ticket € 3), of roman age which are located under the church.

The symbol of Catania is an elephant. It's represented on the famous statue known as "liotru", at the center of piazza Duomo. This is a work of Vaccarini too. The lower part of the monument represents the rivers of Catania and the higher part is built using a roman statue of an elephant and an egyptian obelisk..

Other monuments located in the cathedral square are the Amenano fountain, the palazzo dei Chierici and palazzo degli elefanti, seat of the municipality of Catania. Near piazza Duomo is also via Vittorio Emanuele II, with the cloister of St. Agatha. It's another of Vaccarini's baroque masterpieces. Nearby is also the church of San Placido. Walking through via Leonardi, a little street, it's possible to arrive to the Theater Massimo Bellini.

Returning in piazza Duomo and following up via Etnea you will see the nice Collegiata church. Arriving at  piazza Stesicoro (also by public bus) it is possible to visit the ruins of the Roman amphitheater the terme dell'indirizzo and the three churches dedicated to St. Agatha: la Vetere, al Carcere and alla Fornace. If you like shopping, you can find a lot of shops along via Etnea and every morning is a great and cheap market near piazza Stesicoro.

catania baroccaVery interesting to visit is also the area western of via Etnea. Apart the nice baroque churches located along the way, it's possible to visit thel Vincenzo Bellini museum (opening from 9 to 1 pm). It is located in the house of the composer in  piazza San Francesco d'Assisi and contains a lot of objects of the artist's life. In via Sant'Anna is thecasa-museo Giovanni Verga (9-1.30, 2.45-7.30 - € 4). Western of  via Etnea are also the impressive Benedictine cloister in piazza Dante, the ancient Greek-Roman theater and the odeon.

Every morning, around piazza Mazzini, takes place the traditional and caotic "Pescheria" fish market. Here you can find colors, sound and the traditional Sicilian culture.

If you have time for an exhaustive visit to Catania, you can go to the Castello Ursino (piazza Federico di Svevia). It's a fortress built by Frederick II of Swabia. Today it's seat of the town museum. Near the central train station is also located the centro fieristico delle "Ciminiere". Here are many little museums: the cinema museum, the toys museum, and the historical museum of the landing in Sicily during WWII.

If you are travelling by car we suggest to park your car at the public parking near piazza Falcone-Borsellino (Alcalà) or at the little private parking garages. Traffic in Catania is very chaotic and it's difficult to find a free parking spot. Take care of the many illegal parker which charge you one euro or more for parking assistance and sadly could damage your vehicle if you don't pay.

You can't enter in the lower part of via Etnea by car because the most part is ZTL, a controlled traffic zone.

The most monuments are located in the historical center and can be easy reached by foot. It's also possible to use the public transport of AMT (there are a lot of busses in the central areas. Buy the ticket at Tabacchi shops before taking the bus). Alternatives to visit the town are the little tourist train departing from piazza Duomo which does a sightseeing tour in about 30 minutes. Another alternative is the "hop-on hop-off" bus Katane Live, with audioguides. The tour lasts about 1 hour. If you are lookin for a private guide you can contact Hermes Sicily.

 

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