Taking its name from Mount Etna, the imposing volcano that looms over the city, Via Etnea is one of Catania’s most important thoroughfares, lined with shops, restaurants, and cafés. A lively destination both day and night, Via Etnea connects two of the city’s top attractions—Piazza Duomo and Villa Bellini.
Via Etnea runs almost 2 miles (3 kilometers) through the heart of the city, and a guided walking or Segway tour along its length is the best way to appreciate its many historical sights and monuments. From Via Etnea, many small-group tours head to other nearby city highlights such as Ursino Castle and Monastero dei Benedettini.
At the southern end of Via Etnea is Piazza Duomo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the Fontana dell’Elefante—symbol of Catania—at its center. The square is also home to the grand Palazzo degli Elefanti, a number of baroque palaces, and the Cathedral di Sant’Agata (Duomo). Heading north up Via Etnea, you’ll pass Piazza Università and Piazza Stesicoro, which houses the ruins of a Roman amphitheater and a monument to local composer Vincenzo Bellini. From here, it’s a short walk to the busy central market in Piazza Carlo Alberto and Villa Bellini, the city’s main park.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Via Etnea is a great place to rub elbows with locals, who flock here to dine, shop, and take an evening passeggiata (stroll).
- If you’re joining a walking tour of Catania, comfortable shoes and a sun hat are recommended.
- The thoroughfare is lined by sidewalks and accessible to wheelchair users.
- With its many cafés and restaurants, Via Etnea is where you can stop for anything from a light snack to a full meal.
How to Get There
Via Etnea runs directly through the heart of Catania’s historic city center from Piazza Duomo to Villa Bellini, an easy walk from the Catania Centrale train station.
When to Get There
Catania, like all Sicilian cities, can be uncomfortably hot in the summer months. Do as the locals do and stroll the length of Via Etnea in the cooler morning or evening hours, saving indoor sights such as Ursino Castle and the cathedral for the hottest hours of the day.
Villa Bellini: A Garden Oasis
A hub for shopping and socializing, Via Etnea is always bustling, but on Saturdays and around major holidays it can be very crowded. After seeing the sights and browsing the shops, you can escape the chaos at nearby Villa Bellini (also known and Giardino Bellini), Catania’s delightful public park. Relax in the shade on one of the many inviting benches and admire the 19th-century landscaping and views of Mount Etna.