Catania

Historical Notes

Catania is the second largest Sicilian city, it was destroyed by catastrophic earthquakes in 1169 and 1693 and by several volcanic eruptions from the Mount Etna that is visible from all the city, the most violent eruption was 1669.

Catania was founded in the 8th century BC by Chalcidians Greeks coming from Giardini Naxos. In 1434 was a really important city because of the first university of Sicily has been built in this city. During the 14th century and into the Renaissance period, Catania was one of Italy’s most important cultural, artistic and political centres, for this reason it become the adoptive homeland of some of Italy’s most famous artists and writers.

The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy. The old town of Catania is one of the biggest examples of baroque architecture in Italy and it is protected by UNESCO.

Catania is located on the east coast of Sicily, at the foot of Mount Etna that gives name to the giant volcano. The location of Catania at the foot of Mount Etna has been both a curse and a blessing in fact violent outbursts of the volcano throughout history have destroyed large parts of the city, but it is important to underline how the volcanic ashes made the ground fertile, especially suited for the growth of vines.

As the entire island, also Catania has been colonised by different countries and cultures during its history. Great population passed from the island and multiple cultures raised empires here. Examples of that were Greeks, Normans, Arabs and Romans until Spanish.

In 1860 Giuseppe Garibaldi’s expedition of the Thousand conquered Sicily for Piedmont from the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Since the following year Catania was part of the newly unified Italy, whose history it shares since then.

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What to see

  • Basilica Cattedrale Sant’Agata
  • The Castle of Ursino
  • The Volcano Etna
  • The Benedictine Monastery
  • The main square of Catania, “Piazza Duomo”.
  • The Church of Saint Nicolò D’Arena.
  • The Roman Theatre.
  • The gate of the city, “Porta Garibadi”.
  • Aci Castello
  • Taormina a wonderful traditional city really close by Catania.

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