If Catania doesn’t sound like the ideal city to spend your Christmas break, maybe you’ll change your mind once you’ve read this article!
We often just associate Sicily with idyllic beaches and year-round sun, so you’ll be surprised to know that it also snows here and that Sicily also has magical places where you can celebrate the best season of the year: Christmas.
Here are some suggestions for spending Christmas Time in Sicily, both in and around the city of Catania.
Explore the streets of Catania’s old town, with its Christmas markets and events
From the end of November until mid-January, Catania dons all its finery to celebrate Christmas in style.
The centre’s streets are brimming with Christmas spirit, adorned with lights, decorations and stalls offering the best Sicilian delicacies and gift options crafted by local artisans. There are two key events to look out for:
- The Christmas Market (organised by Associazione del fare), held in the courtyard of Palazzo Minoriti, which turns into a Christmas hamlet for the occasion. You’ll find plenty of local gift ideas here (e.g. Sicilian puppets and jewellery made from lava stone).
- The Christmas Village (organised by Le Pulci di Città) which is generally situated in piazza Università, right in the heart of the old town. The piazza becomes an actual Christmas village, with wooden stalls, a huge Christmas tree in the middle and Father Christmas’s house, designed especially for the children. There are also creative workshops for the littluns, and juggling displays and music.
The dates for Catania’s Christmas events have not been confirmed yet, so make sure you check the associations’ websites for opening times and the full programmes.
A trip to the theatre for the Cirque du Soleil Christmas Gala
The Cirque du Soleil is coming to Catania, to the Teatro Metropolitan from 23 to 26 December 2022, with an amazing Christmas show. You can watch top Cirque du Soleil performers from all over the world on 23 December at 21:30, on 25 December at 17:30 and 21:30 and on 26 December at 17:30.
For the younger ones I can also recommend the show performed by Carolina (the well-known TV presenter so loved by children), entitled “Un Natale Favoloso” (A Fabulous Christmas), showing on 29 December, also at the Teatro Metropolitan.
For more information: Teatro Metropolitan.
Enjoy a Bridgerton-style Christmas at Palazzo Biscari
If you like stately homes like those in Bridgerton, then don’t miss the Magical Christmas event being held on 16/17/18 December at Palazzo Biscari in Catania. There will be a gift market and plenty of surprises in store for those who love Christmas, of course, but with a touch of elegance.
Palazzo Biscari is in fact one of Catania’s most important stately homes, with frescoed rooms full of charm and elegance. One of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in the city of Catania.
Visit the Nativity scene in the cave at Acireale
If you like a Nativity scene, then visiting this one is an absolute must. It’s incredibly charming, as it’s set inside a volcanic cave.
Just a few kilometres outside of Catania, in the village of Santa Maria la Scala (Acireale), there’s a small church called Santa Maria della Neve, known locally as “A Rutta” (the cave). This little church houses Acireale’s 18th century Nativity scene. The volcanic cave is very reminiscent of the Bethlehem Cave, and so in 1741 a priest decided to set up a life-size Nativity scene inside it.
You can visit the Nativity scene from 1 to 24 December and can call the Chiesa Santa Maria della Neve on (+39)3358434776 for further details.
Have fun in the snow on Mount Etna
Can you really ski in Sicily? Does it really snow there? It may seem strange but the answer is yes! And what’s more, not only can you ski on the slopes, but while doing it you can look down at the sea from Europe’s highest active volcano!
The best pistes on Etna are on the north side of the volcano, in the area of Piano Provenzana.
The ski slopes in Piano Provenzana are equipped with three ski lifts, serving four red runs and two blue runs. The ski resort has restaurants, refuges where you can also stay overnight, and shops where you can hire snow and ski equipment.
N.B.: the ski slopes may not necessarily be open in time for Christmas, so please check this website.
Non-skiers can also spend a day in the snow by starting in Nicolosi and then making their way to the Rifugio Sapienza. This refuge offers catering services and treks for you to enjoy a wonderful winter day, even in Sicily.
In Nicolosi there’s also a shop where it’s Christmas all year round! The Christmas shop is called ”L’Antico e il Nuovo”, and sells all kinds of gift ideas and decorations for a fairytale Christmas.
Visit the Nativity scenes in Caltagirone
The Nativity scenes in Caltagirone are famous throughout Italy for their special features and beauty. You can visit the scenes this year from 1 December 2022 until 15 January 2023. The 30 Caltagirone Artistic Nativity Scenes depict rural scenes from everyday life.
They are generally made from a whole range of different materials such as salt, lava stone from Etna, pasta and also cotton, marble, aluminium foil, and even cross-stitch embroidery.
The town’s streets are festively dressed and are bustling with markets, tastings of local products and museums. A unique opportunity to discover this magical atmosphere and treat someone (or yourself) to a lovely ceramic gift from Caltagirone.
For more information on the Caltagirone Nativity Scenes, visit the official website.
The question now is: do you still think that Catania isn’t worth visiting at Christmas? I hope I’ve opened your eyes and you add it to your wish list! All you need to do now is book your flight with Volotea and come and enjoy the Christmas season in and around Catania!