Ask for prices (or for the prices menu) before buying something because many shops (and restaurants) could try to charge you more money.. you can say "quanto costa"? (How much does it cost?)
DEFINITELY DON'T TAKE A TAXI if you can, they could ask 50 euros for a couple of km (unless you’re very rich of course ;-) )..
In Sicily few people speak English but almost anyone is willing to give you help by gesture, you can be sure ;-)
Definitely Catania is not dangerous to your life (we still have mafia that try to get public/private money in many illegal ways, but they don’t like to shoot in the streets as in Godfather movies and if you don’t manage lots of money, they do not have an interest in you). BTW, take care and always keep your bag close to you, especially at open markets or at the beach..
If you don't want to get trapped...... Stay 100 Km away from the market. Pickpockets, snatch and grabs, 'Gold sellers' , empty boxes........ you name it...... been there, done that. ONCE IS ENOUGH
Fun Alternatives: If you're there on tour, skip the tour, or play the part as deaf, numb, blind and dumb.
I cannot say enough bad things about McDonald's. I don't know VT's policy on trash-talking multinational corporations so I'll just leave it at that and those of you who agree or diagree with me can do so.
The reason I put McDonald's in the Tourist Traps is because, frankly, if you are in Catania and you go there, you are doing yourself a disservice. You are in a country with an internationally renowned cuisine. You are in the region of the country (the south) that takes cooking the most seriously. And you are in Catania, where the local flavors are intense, diverse, and DELICIOUS. Do yourself a favor and skip McD's and get some real food cooked by real people.
Unique Suggestions: The above excellent advice aside, some of you will still want to know that theCatania McDonald's is in Piazza Stesicoro (southeast corner). If you do go in there, be sure to notice that the space used to be a movie theatre - you can still tell by the layout - and in fact it used to be a porn theatre. Needless to say I think the new tenants are not an improvement.
Get the McPizza and be sure to order a beer - ordering a beer in McDonald's just strikes me as novel.
Fun Alternatives: ANYPLACE ELSE. (I'm beggin' ya).
The telephone booths that dot the city streets are NOT TO BE TRUSTED. If you use one and it works, it was just doing it to lull you into a false sense of security. BE ADVISED.
They eat your money, the operators sometimes answer in FRENCH, the few that take coins don't work and the others that take cards are out of service (quick Italian lesson: fuori servizio = out of service). The headsets are inadequately powered and the booths of course are on the busiest streets, meaning right next to raging traffic - and no doors...
Unique Suggestions: First of all, buy a calling card. You can get them at the Tabbacherie. Unfortunately you have to know where you're calling because the cards are generally sold by destination (i.e., there are international cards, national cards, local cards, Asian cards, North American, etc). The card system is a little less prone to malfunction than the coin phones, and these days there are more and more card phones.
A word about phone numbers: although there IS a system, it's not quite as regular as the U.S. xxx-xxx-xxxx. In Italy there will be a city code of 1, 2, or 3 digits, and then a number from 5 to 8 digits that is the local number.
Fun Alternatives: I was in Italy long enough to buy a cell phone. The normal tourist isn't going to want to do that. If you can mooch of a friend or host do so, although the concept of free long distance is totally foreign so be sure to offer to pay for the call.
Watch out for all the guys who are offering you trips around the island with a ship-its very beautiful, but you better check out the ship first, because you can get a very 'not stable' ship!
We were lucky and you can see some of my friends on the ship enjoying themselves!