On the eastern coast of Sicily, is the gorgeous historical town of Catania. This beautiful city is lovely in its own right, but is made even more stunning with the nearby majestic Mount Etna and the large blue expanse of the Ionian Sea. Perhaps the only thing more fabulous than the natural scenery here is the cuisine. When making plans for a vacation to Italy, do not miss the sights, sounds, and flavors of this charming town.

The cuisine in Catania is accented with a special Sicilian flair that makes dining here a treat. The nearby volcano of Mount Etna is Catania’s secret ingredient when it comes to the city’s mouthwatering food and wine. Mount Etna is an active volcano and its previous eruptions have over time yielded a unique mineral rich soil that is said to make local wine and agriculture simply a step above the rest.

When traveling to Italy, and Sicily in particular, make time to sit at the dinner table in the company of good friends and family. Meals in Catania and the rest of Italy can last two hours or longer as dinner guests linger over several delicious courses and toast to enjoying the present moment.


As in most places in Italy, a common appetizer in Catania consists of cured meats and cheeses that showcase unique Sicilian flavors. Freshly baked bread warm from the oven is a perfect complement to this menu item.

Another popular appetizer item in Catania is an assortment of vegetables known as caponata. This dish made with a sweet and sour sauce is characteristic of Sicilian cuisine. Though it can be found throughout the island, many places have their own unique spin on the dish. In Catania, caponata consists mostly of eggplants and tomatoes served with olives, capers, pine nuts, and basil.


The first course of pasta is a staple in Catania, just like in the rest of Italy. There are several different varieties that can depend on the type of pasta, sauce, and accent used. That said, the locals and visitors of Catania have a few favorites.

One of the most often ordered first courses in Catania is pasta alla norma. This pasta dish is generally made with a short pasta shape and a combination of fried eggplant and tomato sauce that is usually topped with ricotta salata. The dish is named after Catania native Vincenzo Bellini’s opera entitled Norma.

Pasta al pesto di pistacchi is another popular favorite. This dish can be made with a long pasta shape. The pesto sauce for this particular first course generally made in Catania features pistachios in addition to the other traditional pesto ingredients.

Pasta con le sarde is another pasta variation often found on dinner tables around the city. This dish is usually a combination of pasta, sardines, breadcrumbs saffron, fennel, and pine nuts. Some variations of this first course may be topped with a generous sprinkle of raisins.

Locals also enjoy pasta chi masculuna, which is made with anchovies sauteed in garlic and fennel.


With Catania’s close proximity to the marine life rich waters of the Ionian Sea, it is no surprise that many of the city’s second course dishes feature seafood. Fish and shellfish can be served in a variety of different ways such as baked, grilled, or in some cases raw. These dishes can be served alone or may be served with vegetables. Seafood is such a large part of the cuisine here, many open-air seafood markets can be found along the streets of Catania.

Perhaps the most characteristic seafood dish in Catania and other parts of Sicily is sarde a beccafico. The dish consists of fried sardines filled with caciocavallo cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, and pine nuts.

Another seafood dish not to be missed is called involtini di pesce spada. The dish consists of rolled pieces of swordfish that are stuffed with capers, olives, breadcrumbs, and tomatoes.

Horse meat is widely accepted as both a second course and street food in Catania. When served as second course, horse steak is typically grilled and seasoned with herbs and the savory flavors of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Scacciata, a savory pastry stuffed with onions, potatoes, sausage, tuma cheese, anchovies, broccoli, and cauliflower, is a second course staple during the Christmas season in Catania.


Two characteristic side dishes in Catania include rocculi affucati, which is stewed broccoli, and bastaddi affucati, which is stewed cauliflower.


Particularly with Catania’s warm Mediterranean temperatures, it is tradition that many locals and visitors alike stroll the city streets during the day for sightseeing and in the evening for socializing and the passeggiata.

One of the most popular options when it comes to street food in Catania is horse meat. The meat is usually cooked over the coals and then served warm. While it is considered primarily a street food, some versions of horse meat such as steaks can also be ordered in local restaurants.

Arancino is another favorite street food in Catania. This savory treat is a rice ball that is stuffed and then breaded and fried. The stuffing of the arancino can change from place to place in Sicily, but in Catania it is most often stuffed with ragù and peas though arancino alla norma, which is stuffed with eggplants, is native to the city. Additionally, in other parts of Sicily the arancino is typically round, but in Catania it features a cone shape that is reminiscent of Mount Etna.

Cipollina, which means little onion, can also be found sold on the streets of Catania. This puff pastry is often heartily filled with prosciutto cotto, mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, and of course onions.


On average, Italian desserts are a fabulous treat, but there is something decidedly enticing about the desserts of Catania (and the rest of Sicily, of course).

Granita is a frozen dessert made with flavored ice, only it has a more decadent taste than one would expect. Granita is sold at a variety of shops and restaurants throughout Sicily. Flavors that are common in Catania include pistachio, almond, mulberry, strawberry, and peach.

A traditional sweet of the city and region is cannoli. Theses thin, cylindrical wafers are filled with sweet ricotta cream and can be accented with chocolate bits, nuts, or even candied fruit.

Another favorite treat that is possibly the sweetest of all is cassata siciliana. This decadent sponge cake is usually soaked in liqueur and then layered with sweet ricotta. For an extra layer of decadence, it is then covered in almond paste and icing before being topped with flavors such as candied fruits.

A dessert with a slightly lesser level of intensity is the Sicilian brioche, a sweet, doughy pastry. The pastry can be enjoyed alone, though locals usually choose to pair it with a granita for the perfect breakfast or snack.


Most wine connoisseurs will tell you that there is just something special about the wine from Catania. Many believe that the city’s close proximity to Mount Etna and the minerals that formed from old lava flows have enriched the soil giving the grapes grown in the vineyards a one-of-a-kind in taste.

The main types of wine made here include Etna D.O.C. Bianco of which more than half is from Carricante grapes. Etna D.O.C. Bianco Superiore generally consists of almost three quarters of Carricante grapes. Etna D.O.C. Rosso and Rosato usually consist of more than three quarters Nerello Mascalese grapes. Etna D.O.C. Spumante is typically from a smaller percentage of Nerello Mascalese grapes.

Regardless of which of these wines you choose, it is almost impossible to make a bad selection.

Pack your bags and book your plane ticket for the Italy vacation of a lifetime here on the eastern shore of Sicily in the enchanting city of Catania. A variety of culinary delights await including caponata, pasta alla norma, arancini, granite, and much more.

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