Hiring a car from Catania airport

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Hiring a car from Catania airport

Pick up your hire car at Catania airport and head for this sizzling city at the base of Mount Etna.

60-second guide to Catania airport

in its own head

"We're the coolest city in Sicily, where the beautiful people come to swim, ski and soak up the vibe!"

but more realistically

It's cool, yes, but you don't have to be beautiful to enjoy everything from archaeological remains to pretty parks and chic bars. If that's not enough, it's even got its own volcano.

the vibe

The city's university means that there's a thriving nightlife midweek, but the pace quietens at weekends when students go home to get their washing done by mamma.

the natives

Expect a warm and enthusiastic welcome here, especially if you are travelling with little ones – family is the cornerstone of Sicilian culture.

the weather

It's blisteringly hot in July and August and is shorts and sandals weather pretty much year round except for December, when it can get pretty cold.

the local speciality

The street food is amazing. Look out for arancini - orange-sized balls of risotto stuffed with ragu, smoked salmon or spinach.

the celebrity

Guiseppe 'Pippo' Calderone, a hugely influential Sicilian Mafia boss, hails from Catania. He was murdered in 1978 on the orders of Salvatore 'Toto' Riina, one of the most infamous Mafioso ever.

did you know?

Greek hero Odysseus faced the wrath of the Cyclops at Aci Castello, a 10-minute drive up the coast from Catania.

they say

"Catania is a city with a strong personality, dominated by the looming bulk of Etna, which every so often rains ash upon the streets." - www.italyheaven.co.uk

5 to see in town...

1. Duomo di Catania

First built in the 12th century and rebuilt or remodelled over the centuries, Catania's cathedral is best known as the resting place for the relics of Saint Agatha, the city's patron saint, and the tomb of Sicily's most famous composer, Vincenzo Bellini.

where to park?

The closest car park is just steps away on Via Ionica by the Old Harbour. You can also park your hire car further north in Piazza della Republica and the surrounding area.

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2. Mount Etna

One of the most famous attractions of Sicily is its constantly rumbling volcano, the highest and most active one in Europe. Climbing up a smoking volcano is beyond cool. There are also day trips out to see the constantly flowing lava.

where to park?

There are parking areas at the base of the volcano and at various points as you ascend the mountain.

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3. Trattoria del Cavaliere

At this perennially popular local restaurant you can select your own meat or seafood and have it cooked to order. The marinated, grilled artichokes are a particular pleasure.

where to park?

You can park just round the corner on Via Gambino, but remember that Catania allocates one official parking space for every 39 registered cars, so don't be surprised if it's a parking Wild West.

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4. The Elephant

The Catanian elephant statue has earned a special place in the history of the city. It is said to represent many of the city's virtues, yet its origins remain cryptic, obscured by the mists of time and legend.

where to park?

You can park your hire car at the three-storey municipal car park on Piazza Carlo Alberto, Catania's market square.

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5. Castel Ursino

This 13th-century coastal fortress is one of the few medieval buildings to have survived the great earthquake and volcanic eruptions of the 16th century, as the destructive lava flows were diverted by the moat.

where to park?

You can park at Piazza Federico di Svevia or in the surrounding streets. You'll need to buy 'Sostare' tokens, which cost 72 cents an hour or €2.40 for the day.

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and 4 to drive to...

1. Isola Bella

You can walk to this pretty beach in the bay of Taormina at low tide, but it turns into an island at high tide. Hilarious for practical jokes - if you're the one on the mainland.

how to get there?

Head north on the A18/E45. It's just under an hour's drive.

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2. Caltagirone

Catania boasts a roaring trade in gaudy ceramics, as celebrated by the enormous tiled staircase in the town of Caltagirone. Take a moment to appreciate the artisans' skills, before sprinting to the top, Rocky-style.

how to get there?

Head south-west on the SS385. It'll take you about an hour and 25 minutes.

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3. Messina

Make sure you're in the main square of this pretty port city on the hour for an amazing display of clock-tower theatre, including roaring lions and a massive golden cockerel.

how to get there?

Head north on the A18/E45. The drive will take around an hour and 20 minutes.

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4. Syracuse

One of the most romantic towns in Sicily. Soak up the culture of three millennia of history, then head to the harbour for dinner and a sunset smooch.

how to get there?

Head south on the E45/SS114. The drive will take you just over an hour.

Book car hire catania airport