Elegant fountains, a superb cathedral and fine shopping and dining make Catania’s main square a great place to spend some time.
Sit by the sculptural fountains, gaze at fine Baroque architecture and shop in the boutique stores around the stunning Piazza del Duomo. Come in the evening to dine in the square’s classy restaurants or take a romantic stroll past the cathedral.
Start at the eastern side of the square next to the cathedral for which it is named. On the exterior you will notice two very distinct architectural styles. The columns on the lower level date back to the original Norman structure, while the rest of the façade is a result of a Baroque-style repair in the 18th century.
Many of the square’s other monuments date from a similar time. Move toward the center of the square to view the magnificent elephant fountain. The giant animal is made of lava stone and was constructed under the guidance of Catanian architect, Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. Look carefully at the obelisk that sits on the elephant’s back to see ancient hieroglyphics from its exportation location of Egypt.
Stroll to the south side of the piazza to view the equally impressive Amenano Fountain. The site of the fountain is significant, as it stands above where the Amenamo River once flowed. Like much of the original square, the river passage was destroyed when Mount Etna erupted in the 17th century and is now concealed underground.
In the streets around the piazza, explore winding cobblestone lanes hiding boutique stores where you can purchase the latest Italian high-fashion clothing. Once you’ve finished shopping, treat yourself to a sumptuous lunch of homemade pasta or pizza from a local restaurant.
Be sure to stroll through the square at night, when the cathedral, fountains and palaces are softly lit, giving the area a romantic feel.
Piazza del Duomo is located in central Catania. It is walking distance from most of the city’s other major sights, although several bus services run through the day and stop nearby.