About Catania

Located between Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea, this ancient city has suffered the violence of nature on several occasions, while its people have strived to rebuild it. An earthquake in 1693 resulted in the Baroque palaces evident today. Originally founded by Greek colonists, 'Katane' was later conquered by the Romans and its Roman Theatre is one of the best examples of Roman architecture to be found. Head to Catania's principal square, at the end of busy Via Etnea and you'll find most of its main points of interest nearby, including its much photographed lava statue and the Duomo.


Shore excursions in Catania

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

Catania Highlights

Activity medium

Duration: 4½ hours

Enjoy the highlights of Catania and admire the many historical monuments it has to offer.

Begin with a scenic tour of the 2nd largest city in Sicily with over 400,000 inhabitants. Catania’s growth has clearly been affected by its relationship with the mighty Mount Etna. On several occasions the town was covered by the lava flow, due to Etna's eruptions. In 1693 Catania was destroyed by a terrible earthquake and rebuilt in Sicilian baroque style.

Drive north via the coastal road to Aci Castello, where you can enjoy a photo stop to admire the Norman castle built in 1076 from volcanic stone, and set by the sea on a rocky ridge of crystallised lava.

Travelling along the coastline, you’ll pass by Corso Italia and proceed to Piazza Roma, where you can view the beautiful Bellini Gardens. Relax and enjoy the architecture and impressive views of the Cathedral in the centre of Catania, as you continue en route to University Square and Stesicoro Square.

Along the main street you’ll take a short walk to Cathedral Square where your guide will point out many of the interesting and historic sites. You’ll see the Square, with its beautiful baroque Palaces and famous Elephant Fountain, located in the main bustling high street of the city.

Enjoy some free time before returning to the ship.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. There is approximately 2 hours of moderate walking on this tour.

Classical Syracuse

Activity highShopping

Duration: 6 hours

Become acquainted with the beauty of Syracuse, the historic Cathedral, mythical legends and archaeological remains.

After an hours' coach ride you’ll arrive at the archaeological park's spectacular ruins where you will view the ancient Greek Theatre. The largest theatre on the island was built to show that Syracuse was at the forefront of Greek Cities, and this was the first ancient theatre to revive classical drama.

Also of interest is the "Ear of Dionysius", a cathedral-sized artificial grotto resembling an earlobe. Appropriately enough, the acoustics are excellent.

The visit continues to the Roman Amphitheatre, built for gladiatorial contests, this impressive construction indicates that Syracuse was a sparkling jewel in the Roman crown.

Board your coach and head towards Ortygia, a tiny islet connected to the mainland by 3 bridges. Proceeding by foot your guide will show you the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, one of the oldest temples in Sicily and the Cathedral, built over the ruins of the Temple of Minerva and featuring a magnificent Baroque-style facade. 26 of the original Doric columns from Minerva’s Temple remain and form part of the Christian church (exterior visit).

Continue to the Arethusa fountain, a fresh water spring populated by ducks and papyri plants.

Afterwards you will be given some time at leisure before returning to the ship.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. There is approximately 3 hours walking involved over some cobblestones and uneven surfaces. The order of this tour may vary.

Etna Scenic Drive

Activity low

Duration: 3½ hours

Discover the contrasting scenery of Sicily on a leisurely panoramic drive

Heading towards Etna, your drive will take you through villages located on the southern slopes of the volcano; such as Trecastagni, Pedara and Nicolosi. You’ll see the remnants of the past and more recent eruptions, last of which was in 2004, and see the streams of solidified lava like a black petrified river cascading down from the top of the mountain.

Mount Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe at 10,000 feet high. Take in the panoramic views from the volcano and over the city of Catania, overwhelmed by an eruption 300 years ago. Take a walk around the lunar like landscape of Crateri Silvestri and visit 3 extinct craters formed after an eruption at the beginning of 19th century.

Enjoy some free time to browse the souvenir shops or purchase a refreshing drink before heading back to Catania.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach. The drive from Catania is approximately 1¼ hours each way, traffic permitting. Traffic can be heavy in and around Catania and delays may be experienced. Views of Mount Etna and surrounding areas are dependent on local weather conditions. The terrain around the crater is uneven and rocky, so flat, covered shoes with good grip are essential. A jacket is advisable. This tour does not visit the summit of Mount Etna. Passengers wishing to use the restrooms are expected to pay 50 cents.

Etna Wine and Food Experience

Activity mediumMeal includedShopping

Duration: 5 hours

Enjoy the local flavours of Sicily and the wonderful wines from the Etna region.

Journey north on the scenic road to the slopes of Mount Etna, travelling across orchards, vineyards and woods. A short stop will be made in Zafferana where you’ll visit the main church and a viewpoint overlooking the solidified lava flow of 1992.

Continue your drive through the village of Santa Venerina until you arrive at the estate of Barone di Villagrande. You'll be taken on a tour of the cellar and the winery, and explained the wine making process and qualities of the Mount Etna wine.

Enjoy magnificent views over the fertile valley and fields covered with the vines which produce this wine. The flavour has been enhanced over the centuries by the lava, which is rich in potassium and mineral salts.

After your tour of the cellar, enjoy a Sicilian brunch at the old stable where you will taste the local products and the 4 different types of wine produced on the estate. Afterwards you’ll have an opportunity to purchase some of the fine local wine and products.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. There will be approximately 45 minutes’ walking over uneven and inclined terrain and there are around 28 steps to negotiate at the wine cellar.

Mt Etna and Vintage Train

Activity highMeal included

Duration: 8 hours

Enjoy a delightful journey around Mount Etna on the Circumetnea Railway, across a land of surprising contrasts of nature and tradition.

Embark on a scenic drive via the motorway through the northern slopes of Mount Etna to reach Linguaglossa. The narrow-gauge Circumetnea Railway runs around Etna on a leisurely 1 hour journey, through beautiful scenery, past lava-built towns, Norman castles, and pistachio and citrus groves.

Your exclusive diesel engine dates back to the 1950s, and has been restored for your enjoyment. A stop will be made at Randazzo, called the “Black Town” since lava has been used to pave its streets. It has also been used in the construction of its buildings and monuments, such as the Church of Santa Maria, originally built in the 13th century. The façade includes a bell tower with 4 floors.

After your visit of the church you will re board your train for a short ride to Bronte, where a delicious Sicilian lunch will be served in a local farmhouse.

In the early afternoon you will visit the lord Nelson’s Castle. It is a former Benedectine abbey dedicated to St Mary, and named after the Greek General Maniakes, whose troops drove Saracens out of Sicily. The Castle stands on the field of that famous battle. It comprises a splendid park and a small Arab-Norman church dedicated to Santa Maria di Maniace, containing many interesting masterpieces as a precious 12th century carving depicting the Enthroned Virgin with San Biagio, San Antonio and Santa Lucia.

Essential information

This excursion operates by coach, train and on foot. There is approximately 1½ hours of walking on this tour.

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