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The city of Catania

Catania is the capital of the same province and the second largest city on Sicily with the population of 350,000 people. Catania became the second largest city of Sicily in the 18th century, when made Messina the third one. Nowadays the main traffic centers of Sicily are located here – the seaport and the airport, which refers to 10 largest airports in Italy.

Catania is a hot city. Those who come here on holidays or on an excursion should be ready for the fact the average temperature here is about 40˚C in summer.

Catania is one of the cities of the famous Sicilian Baroque. It belongs to the historical region of Val di Noto that is designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Site. Val di Noto includes several large and not very big cities of Southeast Sicily that are united by one common feature – all the old buildings in Late Baroque style were built immediately after the destructive earthquake of 1693 that occurred here.

Baroque in Catania is presented in a rather luxurious way. To get to know it better you can start with the central square Piazza del Duomo that is mainly surrounded by elegant constructions of the early 18th century. On this square is located the main temple of the city – the Cathedral of St Agatha or just Duomo. The cathedral was founded in the 11th century, but it didn’t preserve in its original form as it was completely rebuilt after the earthquake. The facade of the cathedral presents a great architectural masterpiece, authored by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. By the way, Vaccarini created the image not only of renovated Duomo but of the majority of the buildings on the square.

In the very centre of Piazza del Duomo is located the Elephant Fountain. The strong animal made of black clinker with the obelisk on its back became the symbol of Catania long time ago. Beside the fountain and cathedral on Piazza del Duomo you will also see the scenic St. Agatha’s Abbey, one more fountain - the Amenano Fountain and Palazzo Senatorio where the city hall is located.

Of course, Baroque of Catania is not confined to the city square only. There is the entire neighborhood here – the Western District. It is a kind of an architectural reserve or, if you like, a museum. Its galleries are the streets of Via Vittorio, Via Etnea and Via Crociferi as well as Piazza S. Francesco.

In addition to Baroque there are many other things that are worth seeing in Catania. The city itself was founded by the ancient Greeks. There were left very few things that remind us of the first civilizations. And the ruins of the ancient theatre are such a thing. Long time ago this impressive arena could receive 7,000 spectators. It was created in the times of the Roman Empire, although there are some assumptions that the theatre was founded by the Hellenes. Near the theatre you will see Odeon. It was built a bit later. It looks nice but without magnitude. It was likely used for chamber music performances. It was the so-called “ancient VIP-zone”.

From the early Middle Ages Catania got the Ursino Castle built in the 13th century. It is located on Piazza Federico di Svevia. Today it is a museum.

Catania is the home of such great Italian creators of the Renaissance era as the composer Vincenzo Bellini and the writer Giovanni Verga. The first one is especially honored in Catania. The Museo Belliniano belongs to one of the main sights of Catania. The luxurious Teatro Bellini also refers to this list. Its acoustics is considered to be the best one among the opera theatres of the world.

There is one more wonderful place in the city that is called Bellinini but it doesn’t refer to the great musician. This is Villa Bellini - a picturesque park with palms, oleanders and thousands of other exotic plants. At the top of the park hill there is a small cozy observation pavilion. There opens a breathtaking view on the neighborhood of Catania and Etna. Not far from the park there are several dignified hotels of Catania.

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