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October 16, 2021

Discovering Catania

The spectacle of Etna, the artistic beauties and the great importance on an economic and industrial level. Cataniacan be summarized as follows: among the prominent cities not only in Sicily, but also in the whole of southern Italy.

A bit of history

Although there are evidence of settlements in the area of today’s Catania starting from the Neolithic, the actual foundation of the city is later. We are between 729 and 728 BC, when the Greek colonists from Naxos founded Kατάvη (ancient name of Catania). After a flourishing period during the 5th century BC, the city was conquered by the Syracusans in 403 BC. and had a phase of decline until the conquest by the Romans (when it became one of the most important centers of the empire).

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Catania underwent transformations by the various populations that occupied Sicily. Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths, was responsible for rebuilding the city walls. Later there was control first by the Byzantines, then by the Muslims and Normans, with the latter giving back to Catania the status of bishopric. Then there was the long domination of the Swabians and, when Sicily lost its independence, the city passed under Spanish, Savoy and Bourbon control.

1622 was an important date, given that Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia – viceroy of Sicily – assigned to the Catania Senate functions equal to those of Palermo and Messina and gave the city a certain autonomy. Then there were two natural disasters (the eruption of Etna in 1669 and the earthquake in the Val di Noto in 1693) which led to the almost total destruction of the city (rebuilt in Baroque style).

In 1849, during the Bourbon reconquest of Sicily, the city suffered heavy destruction until 7 April, when it was occupied by the troops of Ferdinand II under the command of Carlo Filangieri, prince of Satriano. In 1860 Catania became part of the Kingdom of Italy; since then it has been one of the main Italian municipalities, the capital of its metropolitan city.

Places not to be missed

Among the many beauties that Catania offers there is certainly the Cathedral of Sant’Agata, patron saint of the city. Built on the remains of ancient baths, it has been rebuilt several times due to the numerous earthquakes that have characterized the city. The facade is made entirely of Carrara marble, with grafting of columns from the ancient Roman theater. The statues of Sant’Agata are distributed on all orders. Behind a gate is the chapel of Sant’Agata, with the room that contains relics.

In terms of religious buildings, the Benedictine Monastery (one of the largest monastic complexes in Europe) should also be mentioned. It is currently home to the University’s Department of Human Sciences and, thanks to a guided tour, you can learn about the 500 years of life of this place.

Of course, you cannot miss an excursion to Etna, the most active volcano in Europe. You can visit the Valle del Bove, as well as the numerous caves used since ancient times as shelters. You can also take a more comfortable panoramic tour with the Circumetnea Railway, which runs around the lower ring of the volcano.

What to do during your stay in Catania

When you arrive in Catania, it is definitely recommended to pass by Piazza del Duomo. Obviously you immediately notice the fountain with “O Liotru”, the elephant symbol of the city which, according to legend, protects it from the eruptions of Etna. Also present in the square are theTown Hall (also called Palazzo degli Elefanti), the Palazzo dei Clierici and the aforementioned Cathedral of Sant’Agata.

To get to know the more rustic and popular soul of Catania, you need to take a tour of its markets. Among these are the Pescheria and the Flea Market, both very chaotic and characteristic. Finally, to admire the baroque style that characterizes most of the buildings in Catania, the recommended way to go is Via Etnea.

Typical Catania cuisine

Like any self-respecting Sicilian city, Catania also has arancinamong its typical dishes. Instead, the rice crispelle (fried sweets that are usually prepared on the occasion of St. Joseph) are more rooted in the Catania culinary tradition. Among the desserts of the area, cassatelle and almond desserts stand out.

There are many restaurants to try to fully enjoy Canadian cuisine. Among these: Catania Ruffiana, La Pentolaccia and Guardino di Bacco.

Beaches of the Catania coast

In a hypothetical challenge between the best cities in Sicily, Catania has a lot to offer even in terms of beaches. The most famous is undoubtedly the Playa, 18 kilometers long where stretches of free beach alternate with others equipped with every type of service. Among the other coasts of the Catania area, worth mentioning is the Riviera dei Ciclopi near Aci Trezza with its black stacks that emerge from the water.

How to come in Catania

Catania boasts the sixth Italian airport by number of passengers. It can also be reached by ship, through its important port. Instead, opting for the car, you can reach it from Palermo via the A19 motorway and from Messina via the A18.

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