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Catania is the second largest city of Sicily and is the capital of the province which bears its name. With 306,000 inhabitants, it has the second highest population density on the island.
It is located at 37° 31′N 15° 04′E on the east coast of the island, half way between Messina and Syracuse and is at the foot of the active volcano Mount Etna.
Catania was founded in the 8th century BC by Greek colonizers from Chalcis in Euboea led by Evarco. Once called Ætna, after the volcano (480–461 BC), it has also been known as Katane. It was extensively destroyed by earthquakes in 1169 and 1693, and by lava flows which ran over and around it into the sea.
- The first Sicilian university was founded there in 1434.
- The city’s patronal saint is Saint Agata.
The city has been buried by lava a total of seven times in recorded history, and in layers under the present day city are the Roman city that preceded it, and the Greek city before that. Today, the tops of the immense Greek and Roman amphitheaters are at street level and in several places the adventurous can descend into the numerous and uncharted tunnels under the city. Although, the perils of finding pockets of poisonous gas or unwelcomed people make this highly inadvisable.
Giovanni Battista Vaccarini‘s principal façade of 1736 is an example of the city’s Sicilian Baroque. Under the city runs the river Amenano, visible in just one point: the south side of Piazza Duomo.
It has a commercial seaport in the city, an international airport (Catania Fontanarossa) in the south, a central train station (Catania Centrale) on the main lines Messina-Syracuse, Catania-Gela and Catania-Palermo, as well as the privately-owned, small-gauge Circumetnea railway. This runs for 110 km from Catania round the base of Mount Etna, attaining the height of 976 m above sea level before descending to rejoin the coast at Giarre-Riposto to the North. In the late 1990s the first line of an underground railway was built, but never completed, extending the Circumetnea from its stop on the north side of town to the Central Railway Station in the southeast.
In the late 1980s and 1990s Catania had a unique popular music scene with local radio stations. As a result of these idiosyncratic and regional radio stations, Catania boasted a youth culture in which indie pop and indie rock from lesser known international bands thrived. As a result of the eclectic taste in it hese sorts of music, Catania has become the birthplace of a number of dynamic and unusual independent music record labels.
Catania is also the home of Amatori Catania rugby union team, and Calcio Catania football team.
How to get there
Catania is home to Sicily’s main airport, and scheduled and charter planes arrive from destinations throughout Italy and Europe. From the airport, there are 1/2 hourly buses to Catania’s bus station.
Frequent buses run to Taormina, Messina, Enna, Caltanissetta and Siracusa. Less frequent buses run to local destinations, Naples, Rome etc. The main bus station is opposite the railway station and a 10 minute walk from the city center.
Frequent trains run up the east coast to and from Taormina (but the station is a long walk below the town) and Messina, then on to Naples and Rome etc. Trains also run to Enna, Palermo (slower than the buses) and Syracuse. A scenic route runs inland to Caltagirone and Gela. The railway station is 10 minutes walk from the city center.
Sights & Activities
Opera: Catania is the birthplace of the composer Vincenzo Bellini (1801). An opera house, the Teatro Massimo Bellini is named after him and a museum exists on the site of his birth. The city’s monuments also include:
The Piazza del Duomo is attractive, lively and contains the Elephant Fountain – the symbol of the city.
The adjacent Cathedral (Duomo) is imposing and worth a visit.
The food and fish markets just below the Piazza del Duomo are a lively and colourful place to visit.
Via Etnea – the main shopping street, north of the Piazza del Duomo has most of the city’s imposing building and is busy throughout the day and evening.
This restaurant is located right in the heart of the town.
Address: via Finocchiaro Aprile 110 – 95129 Catania
Tel.: (095) 747 07 02
Piazza Giovanni Verga
Tel.: (090) 095 27 61 17
La Cantina Trattoria Siciliana
Piazza Roma, 8
Tel.: (095) 95 44 38
Spring and fall are the best seasons to visit Catania. July and August are the warmest months with temperature up to 104° F. For more information, visit the Weather page.
Note: This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article “Metasyntactic variable” and Creative Commons by Commons Deed. This information was accurate when it was posted, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses/establishments in question before planning your trip.