Cheap flights to Catania, Sicily
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Book cheap tickets to Catania and:
- become an expert on Baroque architecture
- discover the wine route of Etna
- catch an opera performance at the Teatro Massimo Bellini
Flights to Catania
airBaltic flights to Catania will commence on May 11, 2017, and continue all summer long on Thursdays, with fares starting at 99 EUR. Get from Riga to Sicily on a direct flight in just 3.5 hours, or use Riga as a transfer point to this sunny Italian gem.
Catania is the second largest city in Sicily, which is in turn the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Mount Etna, Europe's tallest active volcano looms over the city, and it's been known to cover the city in lava on several occasions. Still, the volcano is also a blessing in a way as it makes Catania's soil so fertile that vines grow by the hour there.
Catania has a history with earthquakes too: an especially violent one destroyed the city in 1693, and the it had to be completely rebuilt. The people did it using lava as the building material, which is how Catania got its unique look.
It's the perfect place for summer holidays – the Ionian Sea washes along the coast, making Catania an especially desirable destination for anyone who has a taste for the beach. Plus, Fontanarossa Airport where airBaltic flights land is only a 20-minute-ride away from the heart of Catania.
Parri sicilianu? (Do you speak Sicilian?) Albeit not recognized as a separate language by the Italian State, Sicilian is more than just a dialect. It is distinct enough from Italian to be considered a language in its own right, a belief also shared by UNESCO. In essence, you're bound to hear two languages in the streets of Catania – Italian and Sicilian – so even if you speak Italian, you might have a bit of difficulty understanding the buzz around you. Bear in mind that your English skills might not be very useful here, so picking up a few basic phrases in Italian to help you get by is definitely good advice.
See and Do
Begin your expedition in Piazza del Duomo, Catania's central square. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and deservedly so: everywhere you look, a magnificent Baroque-style building from the 18th century answers your gaze. It's focal point, however, is Fontana dell'Elefante – a fountain made of lava stone featuring a smiling elephant who's carrying an Egyptian obelisk on its back, which is said to possess magical powers. Don't forget to stop by Duomo di Catania that will surely put a spell on you with its increadible beauty. Sacral buildings are not lacking in numbers in Catania; there's a whole street – Via dei Crociferi – that's lined with churces belonging to various congregations.
Your wardrobe would definitely benefit from some Italian fashion, which is available in abundance at Via Etnea, Catania's main shopping street. Packed with small boutiques and large department stores, with bars and cafes peppered along its sidewalks, this pedestrian street stretches from Piazza del Duomo to the foothills below Etna (hence the name of the street!).
Seafood enthusiasts - this one's for you! Plan a visit to La Pescheria, Catania's epic fish market. Dive into the crowds of people shopping for their daily fix of prawns, tuna or lobster. Then turn off a corner to get to the fruit and vegetable stalls, where you'll be surrounded by a splash of colours, worthy of a Skittles' packet.
When you're ready to escape the heat and the noise of the city, find shelter in the Botanical Gardens of Catania and enjoy a relaxing walk while exploring the fantastic collections of cacti and other flora from all over the world. Giardino Bellini is another place to spend a lazy afternoon in and break away from the city rush. Stroll through the park, dip your fingertips in the dainty fountains and allow the light breeze to ruffle your hair.
For a more strenuous activity, hike up Mount Etna for some otherwordly scenery. Just remember to dress appropriately, as it's not exactly beach weather up there. You can also just book a ride to take you closer to the top instead of relying on your own legs. It's best to reserve a whole day for this trip, especially if you're planning on wandering around the volcano a bit.
Who knew that beaches could be black? Well, there is one in Catania, called San Giovanni Li Cuti, that's covered in volcanic sand and rocks which lend it the colour that's not very peculiar to the seaside. If you find yourself there, save some time for a walk down the nearby harbour where ancient wooden boats float by the coast making it quite a picturesque location.
When hunger strikes, it's time for a feast. Sicilian cuisine has a lot in common with Italian specialties, but it's also a melting pot of Arab, French, Greek and Spanish flavours. You must definitely degust Pasta alla Norma, sauteed eggplant and tomatoes served over pasta and topped with a generous helping of ricotta cheese. It does not get more authentic than that: this dish originated in Catania itself. Make sure to finish off your dinner with a shot of chilled limoncello. In the daytime, grab a cartociatta or cipolline from a food stall, both of which are popular Catanian street foods - another Catania's forte.