Catania is the capital of the province of the same name, a major commercial and tourist center on the island of Sicily. The port city, washed by the waters of the Ionian Sea, perched on the slope of the active volcano Etna, which periodically recalls its existence by emissions of lava and ash. Such a dangerous neighborhood does not bother either local residents or tourists who come for new experiences for a long time. They believe that their protection Holy Agatha is the patroness of Catania. In her honor, every year on February 5, festive processions are held in the streets.
In Sicily, the sun shines more than 2,500 hours a year. This is an absolute record for Italy. The mild and warm climate provides hot summers. Peak temperatures occur in July and August. The thermometer column shows + 30C. The swimming season starts in early May and ends in October. Water temperature reaches 24C. Comfortable autumn flows into the warm and rainy winter. The coldest month is January. The air warms up to only 15C.
The city was founded by Greek colonists in 729 BC. Before the First Punic War, it was under the control of Syracuse, and in 263 it passed to the Romans, who left behind a rich architectural heritage: theater, forum, plumbing, odeon and circus. Catania was ruled by the Byzantines, Arabs, and even the Normans. In the 14th century, the island finally passed to Italy. The city survived 4 devastating earthquakes and 3 major volcanic eruptions that covered the streets and squares with a thick layer of lava. Catania changed shape several times. The final one was formed in the 18th century thanks to the architect Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. The building began to be carried out according to the plan, there were flat straight streets leading to wide areas. Most of the buildings are made of black lava and basalt. Nature gave such building material in abundance. There was a unique architectural image, which was called “Sicilian Baroque.”
What to see
All iconic sights are located compactly. They can be safely examined in 1-2 days.
Acquaintance with sunny Catania is customary to begin with Cathedral Square. In the center of the architectural complex rises the Fountain with a black elephant – a visiting card of the city. The fountain of the work of Vaccarini is a black basalt elephant with an Egyptian obelisk on its back and a cross crowning the composition.
The city hall is located on the left side, it is secretly called the “Elephant Palace”, and on the right – the Seminary Palace, built in the 18th century.
The Cathedral of St. Agatha, or the Duomo, is considered the most important. Its first version was destroyed by an earthquake in 1169, the second stood for more than 500 years and also collapsed during another natural disaster. The current building of the cathedral was erected in 1711. Its marble facade is decorated with many statues, and the main entrance is decorated with carved wooden panels that tell about the difficult life of St. Agatha. The octagonal dome is an original architectural solution. Inside is the grave of the famous composer Vincenzo Bellini.
There are 3 more churches dedicated to Saint Agatha in the city.
Ursino fortress was built 1239-1250gg. by order of King Frederick II of Hohenstaufen. Initially, towers, wings and walls stood at the very edge of the sea in order to quickly repel the enemy’s attacks, giving him no chance to enter Sicilian land. However, the eruption of Etna in 1669. changed the whole concept. Lava extended the shore by many meters.
The Bonayuto Chapel is one of the few Byzantine structures that have survived to this day. It is made in the shape of a classic Greek cross.
The collegiate basilica is a striking example of Sicilian baroque. Columns reliably hold openwork balustrade. On the second level there is a small door and statues of 4 saints: Apollonia, Agatha, Peter and Paul. A small bell tower crowns the construction. The interior of the basilica is decorated with frescoes depicting the Virgin Mary and the angels.
The Roman amphitheater is located in Piazza Stesicoro. Once the building accommodated 16,000 spectators – an unprecedented achievement for ancient times. Now from the amphitheater there are only fragments that speak of its former greatness. Some of the stones were used to build the city wall, and the other became the building material for the Cathedral.
Italian cuisine is one of the most delicious in the world. You should get to know her better in local cafes and restaurants.
In Catania, 60 km of beaches for every taste. They start at La Playa and end at Pozzillo. There are paid and free zones. Black beaches, which appeared due to the activities of Etna, are considered the highlight of the island.