A map of Catania’s neighborhoods: Civita
Between Catania’s harbour, il Porto di Catania, and Piazza Duomo, behind the ancient walls and the Marine, Civita is probably the most beautiful area in the historical centre of Catania.
Walking along via Vittorio Emanuele II, you will see an emblematic expression of Eastern Sicily late baroque architecture.
Some of its sumptuous buildings have been restored in the last years, with their rich facades and secret courtyards, while other show a decadent and aging beauty, with their basalt thick walls made more black by mud and smog.
Palazzo Biscari, Palazzo Valle, Palazzo Platamone are only the most famous samples of the impressive reconstruction of Catania after the earthquake that in 1693 destroyed many parts of town.
Fishermen and noble families, clergymen and traders have been living here for centuries, close to each other in this amazing site made of ample and regular squares and narrow streets with basalt, black pavements.
The area is lively during the day and at night, thanks to the number of public departments and offices, and the Opera Theatre, in the square named after Catania’s composer Vincenzo Bellini. Many cafés and restaurants offer a wide choice of places where having a rich meal or just a cup of coffee, a beer or a glass of wine. For a different and more local option, Try Macondo, Wine and Book Cafè, with its cosy armchairs in the narrow via Bonajuto, where a hidden Byzantine chapel also lies in a cool shadow.
It’s also quite easy to find a beautiful holiday apartment to rent in this area and we must say that if we had to spend some days and sleep in Catania we would choose Civita. No doubts. Just avoid in general apartments where the entrance is right on a street, since they might be wet and not so airy, and noisy at night. Some of them were renovated by the owners and might be fine, still, so have a look at the photos on the holiday apartment website you’ve booked from and see if natural light comes from any other opening than the entrance door.
It’s quite safe to walk around, both during the day and at night, just avoid leaving things into your car, especially if you’re driving a rental one.
We have actually chosen Civita to open our traveller’s station, tourist info and luggage storage, and not by chance. Civita is the first neighborhood that visitors meet when they come from the airport and from the port. The Alibus stop Archi, right in front of the entrance of the Harbour, it’s just on the opposite side of a visible part of the ancient Catania walls. Just cross them and Catania will be there, in its most characteristic aspects, with its low buildings where natives from this neighborhood still live.
Civita is the right location to start your trip in Catania, for one day or an entire week. We would definitely suggest to rent a room in the area to any friend, thanks also to the bus station just out the Marine Arches. Besides the bus for la Playa beach, the D-Bus, you can catch a bus riding towards Southern Sicily, and get to Siracusa or Noto in just one hour. Look for Piazza Paolo Borsellino, just behind the Cathedral in Piazza Duomo and see how it’s easy to visit Eastern Sicily from Catania and to get to Catania from any town in Sicily.
To get easily there or right into the city center, if you arrive to Catania by plane, take the airport shuttle bus Alibus and jump off at the stop Archi, the most convenient one to start visiting Catania and quickly reach its most interesting sites. It’s near to Catania fish market, the Cathedral and the Castello Ursino, Catania’s sturdy medieval castle, survived to the massive lava flows and the big earthquake at the end of the Seventeenth century. Suspended in its own Middle Age, it is a standalone in eternal memory of Frederick II, between the ancient greek-roman ruins and the bold faces of Late Baroque Architecture.
If you don’t know where to store your stuff while going to the beach, or if you really come to Catania for just one day and have heavy suitcases or backpacks to carry around, just reach Catania luggage storage and welcome center, the first of its kind, in piazza duca di Genova, at a 1 minute walk from the most central bus stops of the shuttle bus from and to Catania airport. You’ll find a cool and relaxing office/shop and a safe baggage storage personally attended by Atripical owners and founders. Atripical is still work in progress but intended and already helpful to travelers who come to visit Catania, giving them tips or a hand to organize their stay in Catania.
It’s meant to be a welcoming center, with a bench for a pause or a chat with a native or some other traveler. There you can get a city map of Catania, useful tips and info for seeking what you deserve from your holiday in Catania and Eastern Sicily.
First stop: Catania. At the entrance of a long road through Sicily, her heavy sun and blessing sea.
Vincenzo Bellini Airport, aka Fontanarossa, meaning red fountain, because when Etna’s vomiting her magma be sure that that will be the first thing you’ll see from your plane.
That vivid town with whom most comers fall in instant romance and others decide that they would prefer not.
A bustling city, suspended between true common places and a seamless mobility not yet knowing if going forward or stay exactly where she is, adding some make up to veil her age.
From a beautiful tourist’s point of view, she’s full of treasures to dig for, hidden by that other phenomenon of her ones.
Stunning Mt Etna over the sea.
Not an inch of Catania coast left alone by that black stone falling from the sky every now and then.
That’s Catania. A puzzling rebus full of signs, sounds, sights, each of them flashing and then melting in an ordinary day in town. A city where everyone knows anyone like in a small village. Yet… who knows?
A huge court, sumptuous and decadent, an ultramodern Mediterranean-Pop hit from the Eighties forward.
She can knock you down with a terrific view, an incredibly interesting tale or incidental meeting or an absolutely obscene car steering.
If you land into Catania Airport you really shouldn’t miss a walk downtown Catania.
Take Alibus and then jump down at the airport shuttle bus stop Archi. Wait and see where this name’s from.
Right on your right Catania port lies down calm and inviting, twinkling with its boats and sailors.
If you cross the road and leave the arches behind you, you head towards Catania’s heart. Civita, a quiet and perhaps one of the most evocative Catania’s neighbourhoods, nested into its baroque city centre. It gave birth to one great writer and woman, a We-can-do-it epitome when woman empowerment still had to be born.
*self-editing. not born yet grown into its womb. Goliarda’s family house was actually in via Pistone, in the once vivid neighbourhood of San Berillo.
We’ll not use Her as a flag in our first post. That would not be elegant. She deserves a full academic and anarchic re-evaluation of her fresco and we’ll just give our touristy homage with a whole mindful post soon. For now.
You’ll really have a hint of what decadent means in an ultra-late baroque Catania style by a walk into Piazza duca di Genova.
You will also find a luggage storage in Catania city centre, in case you really won’t stay overnight or if it’s just early for your Catania apartment check-in.
Ask the storage staff, actually three locals usually doing their own businesses yet willing to give help to others’ ones, for what’s worth a visit or happening in town, or where you can eat something really tripical around. Almost everywhere, actually, yet…
Then have your hike through Catania’s tricky streets; you cannot be wrong any way you take. She’ll be at your hand and feet.