Palazzo della Cultura is the 15th century 'Palazzo Platomone' converted into a convent (Convento San Placido) in the 1700s and now one of Catania's most beautiful cultural spaces. Even though I have walked by this structure unknowingly many times in the past, it wasn't until a friend and relatively new resident to the area mentioned it to me (thank you Lucia!) that I realized this was a place worth entering. According to long time residents of Catania, the palazzo has been used for concerts and conferences for years. But based on my recent visit, there are no signs of concerts (except for a decaying wooden stage in the outside courtyard and a covered piano in the corner of one of the many rooms) but a series of high -ceilinged rooms on the ground floor dedicated to rotating art installations, and a second space upstairs that now houses an insect exhibit. As with many of the hidden jewels of Catania we wondered why this institute is not better publicized, or maybe it is us who are not reading enough of the local newspaper to find out what is going on in the city. In any case, a visit to the insect exhibit, which will be up until the end of November, is a great outing for children of all ages, and you won't have to pay a penny to see the shows and wander the halls of the building. If you are lucky and find a nice guard like we did, you may even get to experience walking down the long corridors lined with the nun's former cells, some of which are now office spaces, as well as view the terrace originally reached by a narrow, spiraling stair case, where the nuns hung their laundry to dry. In the outside courtyard the remains of a Norman building which once stood here is also visible, as well as a glass covered section of the floor that preserves a portion of the original tiled floors. And most startling of all is that the peace and tranquility one normally associates with a convent still fills the walls of the building, so much so that when you finish your visit and step back out into the street you will be surprised to find that you really are in the middle of Catania's bustling historic center.