For me, this is the most awesome city in Sicily and also the most baroque and decorated in its monuments, palaces, churches and streets. I am introducing Catania to you, the chief town of the namesake province. Catania rises in the East area of Sicily, a bit of under Messina, attached to the coast of the Ionio sea. Surmounted by the highest volcano in Europe: Etna, Catania and its surrounding towns shape the notorious district of the lava, also called in the Italian language. Il distretto della lava o distretto dell’Etna.
Catania deserves to be seen and visited on the spot because it is a real spectacle of architecture and art. This city, indeed, is also very mysterious and ominous because contains well two cities: the ancient Catania and the modern Catania. The first one is the ancient Greek and Roman city also buried at the center of the city, just near the Cappuccini street. There is an underground and hidden city surrounded by an iron gate nearby the road. It is also said that this buried city hides a sort of labyrinth that seems endless. The modern Catania is, instead, the city that you can also see today, That is the city rebuilt after the two violent seisms occurred in 1669 (because of an Etna eruption) and 1693.
After these earthquakes, Catania was fully razed to the ground and rebuilt following Baroque architectural style, as it was wanted by Popes Urban III, Innocent X and Alexander VII. Baroque monuments are characterized by wide facades, round columns and arched ceiling. Among these, the most important is the cathedral of S. Agata (see the image), the patroness of the city. The most important However, this city also keeps several monuments result of various dominances, among these, Normans and Arabs. In the Middle Age, indeed, during the government of a bishop, it was built Castello Ursino ( see the image) and after the kingdom of Aragona, it was founded the oldest university in the island: the Siciliae Studium Generale. Another notorious monument is called Uzeda Gate (Porta Uzeda in Italian) is dedicated to Uzeda duke that ruled Catania from 1687 to 1696. Uzeda gate links the Duomo square with Dusmet street and it is placed in the heart of the eighteenth – century city of Catania. Uzeda gate represents the south exit of the Duomo square.
Inside this square you can also see the Elephant Palace that is the seat of Catania’s government and its fountain also called Liotru( see the image) That is always a baroque palace built in 1696 soon after the earthquake of 1693. At the end of XIX century, the palace was added an honor stairway designed by Polish architect Stefano Ittar. This architectural style is more attractive and evocative. But Catania is much more: its coasts, its admirable port, its sea, its volcano, its large park ( see the image). With its 27 towns of the metropolitan areas, Catania offers spectacular views and an unforgettable travel experience. I’ll speak in other articles about these towns.
Among these: Nicolosi, Tremestieri, Zafferana Etna, Acireale, Acitrezza, Acicastello and many others. The province ( or district) of Catania has 58 towns overall, but only those that are included in the district of the Etna are relevant to tourism and deserves to be seen. In Catania, climate is mild for all year and you can visit this city at anytime ( find hotels here). In the summer, you can enjoy the hot sun, the striking cliff and dive into a shining sea. In the winter, you can admire the snowed tip of the Etna volcano and visit many lava stone chalets where you can also warm up in front of a fireplace and eat tasty Sicilian food.