Cradled underneath the biggest volcano in Europe, Mount Etna, and right in the middle of the Ionian coast, Catania is Sicily’s second largest city and a lively, international place to visit. Catania is known for its Baroque architecture and buzzing university scene, with a number of relics show the fractured history of numerous invaders to the area. HAPPYCAR is here to help you find the best car hire Catania has to offer so you can take full advantage of this layered city. We check the prices of international and local providers so that you don’t have to check each website to provide you with the best deals to make your money go further on a rental car that fits your vacation needs.
Catania is a city defined by Etna, looming high and silent behind elegant buildings that were rebuilt after the famous 1669 eruption by the Baroque master Giovanni Vaccarini. The city itself stretches back 2,700 years, having been molded by a number of foreign rulers, including the Greeks to the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Normans, French and Spanish. Catania dominated throughout with its port as a rich commercial center. Its architecture is iconic, characteristic of the theatrical Baroque style that prevailed in the 17th century and the Baroque from Catania has several unique features such as the use of dark lava stone in the buildings and pavements.
Catania opens out beautifully to the sea and there are plenty of opportunities to take in the view. Windsurfing and kite surfing are popular activities all over, as well as hiking into the mountains. Alternatively, Catania is enthusiastic about its thermal therapy as there a number of thermal spas around its volcanoes that provide a welcome respite. Of course there are volcano treks for Etna fans. If you visit Catania in February, you will be lucky enough to experience the Acireale Carnival, a beautiful menagerie of colorful masks and creative floats. And in winter Etna is covered in snow, making for an unbelievable skiing experience with the vast azure expanse of the sea below.
Whatever your reason for visiting Catania, you can’t leave without stopping by Etna, inarguably the greatest active volcano in Europe. And it is Sicily’s luxury of volcanoes that creates beautiful volcanic paradises by combining them with natural parks and around Catania there are the Lamponi, Tre Livelli, Gelo and Palombe Grottoes. The city’s beautiful Baroque architecture stands proudly in defiance of its volcanic shadow and is a beautiful sight. The Piazza del Duomo is an attractive UNESCO World Heritage Site, surrounded by magnificent sinuous buildings with contrasting lava and limestone. The Norman Cathedral opposite is imposing, but worth a visit. Nearby with a car hire in Catania you can visit Taormina, a famously stunning medieval city on the top of a mountain.
Sicilian cuisine is truly one of the best in the world, making the most of their coasts and their unique olive trees. The food is typically Mediterranean but also contains hints of Spanish and Arabic, with almond, jasmine, rosemary and mint can all feature in Sicilian food. Of course seafood is top of the menu in Catania, with sardines, tuna and swordfish making a special appearance. Catanians tend to use less butter and cream than their counterparts on the mainland, preferring instead tomatoes and olive oil. Catanians also have a notorious sweet tooth, and are proud of their desserts. Try cannoli, granite and cassata for starters. They also do a kind of fast food that is unique to Catania, Arancini, fried rice balls with meat fillings. You won’t find them anywhere outside of the island.
A Catania car hire is a perfect opportunity to explore along the Ionian coast, where you can visit Acicastello, a medieval castle built on a giant rock over the sea. Or Acitrezza, a small village with giant rocks lying in the sea, supposedly the same that was thrown by the Cyclops at Ulysses. There are many islands that orbit Sicily, but the Aeolian Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, deserve particular mention. This small archipelago of seven islands is moulded by volcanoes and provides stunning scenery to explore. Another UNESCO Site is Agrigento, an important archaeological town in Magna Graecia. The famous Valley of the Temples evokes the spirit of Sicily 25 centuries prior, as a center of power and learning. Sicily is home to a good number of additional UNESCO Sites, such as Syracuse, with its Necropolis of Pantalica, the Noto Valley with its Late Baroque cities, and the Villa Romana del Casale. A Catania car rental can give you the freedom to explore these picturesque places, along with Ragusa, Piazza Armenia, Messina, and many others. With a rental car you could also visit other great cities in Italy such as Rome or Florence.