Capital of the Italian province from which it draws its name, and located along the Sicilian coastline bordering the Ionian Sea between Messina and Syracuse, Catania is one of the major cities for the region, important not only for its cultural and economical status, but for its location, its history, and its unique architecture. The history of the town dates back nearly 3,000 years, with the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, and Spanish all having a chance to influence the architecture and culture at one point or another. Situated between Mount Etna—an active volcano—and the sea itself, the city is presented with a strange mixture of natural beauty and danger, making for a vibe that is unlike anywhere else.
The entire old town district has been designated a World Heritage Site as a result of the Baroque architecture, which is unique in the sense that it incorporates the lava rocks themselves from the surrounding hillsides, giving the buildings a strangely dark sheen that seems otherworldly when viewed in certain lights. Mount Etna has actually destroyed large portions of the city several times over the years, but each time the city is rebuilt, more majestic than the previous. Beyond the strange lava texture integrated into the buildings, however, are things like the Piazza Stesicoro, which holds the ruins of an ancient Roman amphitheater, as well as the Via Etnea and the Norman Cathedral. Visitors can also explore the fish markets of Catania—reputed to be the best in Sicily—or head out to the Castello Ursino. There are also plenty of organized tours up to the top of Mount Etna, which is definitely a must-see for any adventurer. You can also take in one of the many beaches, or simply enjoy some time driving or hiking along the coast in either direction, taking in the beauty of the Sicilian countryside against the backdrop of the sea on one side and hills and mountains on the other.
Beautiful Taormina. A short bus ride from Messina through curvy highways up to the top of the mountain. Once there you will notice that you park at a parking structure and walk a bit till you…