It's not difficult to see how Catania's main shopping street got its name – on a clear day you can see Mt Etna rising majestically at the end of it. Via Etnea runs straight from Piazza del Duomo up to the foothills below Etna. Lined with department stores, bars and pavement cafes, it's busy at most times but heaves on Saturday afternoons, when shoppers pile in from the suburbs to strut, schmooze and update their wardrobes.
At its southern end, Piazza dell'Università is an atmospheric spot to take stock over a coffee and cake. On the other side of the square is Palazzo dell'Università, the Vaccarini-designed building that houses the city university. On the eastern flank is another Vaccarini edifice, Palazzo Sangiuliano.
To escape the madding crowds, continue up to the lovely Giardino Bellini where you can relax on a bench in the shady gardens and admire views up to that volcano.