Catania On a Rainy Day: 8 Things To Do
Rainy days in Catania are not common from spring through to fall. If you're visiting this Sicilian city in the coldest months of winter, when the average temperature drops below 45°F (7°C), you may well wake up to find your hike up Mount Etna canceled because it's raining.
While it will be hard not to be disappointed that your Mount Etna excursion has been canceled, you can always reschedule your volcano tourism for another day when the sun decides to peep through the low cloud coverage and the trails haven't been converted into mudslides.
It's not difficult to find something to do on rainy days in Catania, so don't stay in your hotel room sulking. Leap out of bed, put your positive hat on and a waterproof jacket as well, and head out into the city to discover things you might otherwise not have included in your itinerary.
No, you won't have to spend the entire day hiding from the rain in Catania Cathedral or just dash across the Piazza del Duomo as you head for the nearest coffee shop. Although neither of those things constitutes a bad plan, Catania is the second biggest city in Sicily, so there's more to do on a rainy day here than that.
If you've somehow managed to get stuck with your bags when you visit Catania, don't let lugging them around with you spoil your day. Drop them at a Bounce luggage storage in Catania and it'll be problem solved. Bounce luggage lockers are a safe and economical solution to bag storage in Catania, so don't hesitate to use them. Once you've deposited your bags, you'll literally feel as if a weight has been lifted off your shoulders, and you'll be able to sidestep any puddles you come across with a spring in your step.
What Is There To Do In Catania On A Rainy Day
Start The Day Right
When your hike up Mount Etna isn't going to happen because it's raining, compensate by spoiling yourself with a great breakfast. Head for the Piazza del Duomo for it, and once you've finished, you'll be in the right place to find something else to do close by.
Go to the Caffe del Duomo, which is right on the Piazza del Duomo, and even though it's raining, you'll still be able to have your colazione al fresco as the terrace is covered with a canopy. In this Catania cafe, you can go healthy or indulge your sweet tooth.
In Caffe del Duomo, they make smoothies from scratch using the ingredients you choose from a selection of fresh fruit and veggies, or you can opt for an espresso that will put you on a caffeine high for the rest of the morning. What they offer is endless, but think savory pastries, arancini, croissants, toasted sandwiches, and several types of Sicilian cannoli, as well as plenty of other cakes that will have you drooling.
This is an all-day, all-night place, so if you are late up and want some of the best brunch in Catania, you can always tuck into a plate of pasta, some frittata, or a pizza instead. Even if the rain hasn't let up by the time you've licked the crumbs off your plate, you'll be right by the cathedral if you want to go there or a five-minute walk from the Ursino Castle if you choose to visit there instead.
Don’t be fooled by the huge displays of fruit wrapped in cellophane. They’re not real fruit but hand-crafted marzipan sweets.
Make The Day Historic
One of the main attractions in Catania is the Castello Ursino or, in English, Ursino Castle, and it's within easy walking distance from the Piazza Duomo if you take the Via Zappala-Gemelli.
Ursino Castle looms over the Piazza Federico di Svevia and is a monumental testimony to the construction talents of the 13th-century Sicilian builders. It hasn't fallen down in the 800 years it’s been standing and doesn't look as if it's likely to any time soon.
The castle has served as everything from a defense fortress to a royal palace and now houses the Museo Civico, which is one of the best museums in Catania. While the courtyard is open-air, the rest of it isn't, and if the rain continues, you can always skip going onto the ramparts to see the view.
The Museo Civico takes up two floors of the castle, and they're full of interesting treasures like ancient sculptures, a wide variety of artifacts, and large collections of paintings. It'll take at least three hours to go around it all, so it fills the time on a rainy morning nicely.
Go To Church
If you decide to head in the direction of Catania Cathedral rather than Ursino Castle, you'll only have a short dash across the square from the Caffe del Duomo to get there.
The first cathedral built on the site in the late 11th century was destroyed by the rumblings and eruptions of Mount Etna, and another followed the same fate in the 17th century. The current cathedral structure mostly dates from the 18th century, so it isn't quite as old as you might expect.
Internally, the cathedral displays some interesting architectural features, and several tombs, paintings, and frescoes are worth viewing. Still, all in all, a visit here won't take you much longer than an hour and a half at most.
If Mount Etna suddenly decides to do her thing or her grumbling causes an earthquake, don't head to the cathedral for sanctuary. History has frequently shown it's not the right place to hide unless you're happy to be buried in the ruins.
Right next to Catania Cathedral is a fascinating underground archaeological museum called the Terme Achilliane. You may find it decidedly more interesting than the fresco of Mount Etna erupting displayed in the cathedral.
The Terme Achilliane, or Achillian Baths, are what remains of what was once a large underground thermal spa built in the 4th century by the Romans. The impressive subterranean structure is accessed via a tunnel that leads into the main area, which has many columns and arches. While it's no longer deluxe, it's not hard to imagine just how luxurious a bathing spot it would have been in the times of the ancient Romans.
The Terme Achilliane is open for viewing from 9 am until 1 pm most days. It also opens to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 pm to 5:30 pm. There's no organized guided tour of the baths, you just walk around at your own pace.
Shop Until You Drop
When the weather forecast says rain is on the way, a walking tour of Catania's top attractions is not on the cards. But, you can always resort to shopping. Going shopping in Catania on rainy days means skipping the Corso Italia and heading instead to one of the indoor commercial centers like the Porte di Catania, one of the best malls in town.
The Porte di Catania is a massive covered mall on the Via Gelso Bianco in Catania that's open seven days a week for twelve hours straight, from 9 am to 9 pm. It's an absolute labyrinth where you can wander around for hours and still not see the same shop twice.
In the Porte di Catania, there's just about every store imaginable, from footwear shops like Adidas and Bata to clothes shops like Guess and the Italian version of Primark to sports stores like Decathlon. The center also houses a huge food hall with a wide variety of eateries, so if you need to recharge your energy levels, there's no shortage of places to do it.
If you woke up on a rainy morning and decided to visit the Palazzo Biscari in Catania, you will need to arrive at a certain time as the palace can only be seen on a guided tour.
The Palazzo Biscari is an elaborate structure that stands on the Via Museo Biscari, which is less than a five-minute walk from the Piazza Duomo. The Palazzo Biscari has an internal elaborateness that is, in turn, incredible and enough to make your eyes water.
To visit the Palazzo Biscari and take the tour in English, you will need to arrive a few minutes before 10:30 am, 11:30 am, or 12:30 pm Mondays to Saturdays or on Sundays at ten minutes before 11 am. There is only one tour on Sunday, and a minimal charge of ten euros is applied. The rest of the week is free.
Occasionally, some tour times may be changed or canceled if special events are held at the palace.
Make Lunch A Special Occasion
Rainy days are ideal for finding a good restaurant and taking your time over a leisurely lunch before heading back to your hotel to sleep it off with a long siesta.
Sicily is an island and Catania a port city, so as the old saying goes: when in Rome, do as the Romans do and eat seafood. Catania has some excellent seafood restaurants, so below, you'll find the details of a couple you may want to try.
Il Gambero Pazzo
Il Gambero Pazzo has a reputation for being one of the best seafood restaurants in Catania, and it's a well-deserved reputation. Il Gambero Pazzo is located on the Via Vela, which is under a ten-minute walk from the Piazza Duomo. The premises are delightfully rustic, and so is the food. Here you can linger over a mixed seafood spaghetti with prawns, clams and fish, or a seafood risotto that truly merits not being rushed.
Chef Dede on the Via Guglielmo Oberdan is the complete opposite of traditional. The premises have a contemporary style, and the food is prepared following modern culinary tendencies. If the inclement weather and lower-than-average temperature call for soup, try the almond and clam bisque with basil. If soup is not required, take your time over the tasting menu and savor delicious dishes like fish filets with pistachio crust or the seafood carpaccio. One taste of either, and you'll forget about the rain.
If you and your traveling companions are animal lovers rather than eaters, and not into seafood or meat, you can read our guide to the best vegetarian restaurants in Catania.
Go Movie Mad
Catania is in no way a rival to Cannes, but it's a city that truly appreciates films and the movie industry. While you might not be here to attend the Catania Film Festival at the end of November, you can still catch a movie.
The UCI Cinema complex on Contrada Cubba Marletta reserves two screens for the daily showing of recent releases, either dubbed in English or with English subtitles.
The cinema is about a 15-minute taxi ride from Catania center, but as there are two screens, you can have a double whammy film afternoon, making it well worth the taxi fare. Films frequently change, so check what's on before you go on the UCI Cinemas official website. And yes, before you ask, they sell popcorn, nachos with cheese, hotdogs, and pizza, plus the usual choice of soft drinks.
Catania is a Sicilian city you can enjoy no matter what the weather throws at you. Rainy days in Catania are made for taking lentamente, slowly, so forget rushing from a historic monastery to an ornate palace or through a museum, relax. Have a great breakfast, do some indoor sightseeing, eat a good lunch, take a siesta, then binge-watch a couple of movies. Mount Etna won't move overnight, and with any luck, all the day trips up to the peak, whether hiking or in a jeep, and all the other exciting outdoor activities will resume as soon as the rain stops.