Monday, 1 October 2012

CATANIA -ITALY-CHARMING BAROQUE DAUGHTER OF THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA AND VULCAN ETNA.



 Catania,is Sicily's second city for number of inhabitants after Palermo,but with an urban agglomeration among the first in Italy.City of legends,Greek Mythology Gods,Cyclops,sailors and artists Catania is still one of the landmarks of the Mediterranean culture and tradition.This lively and cheerful,and at the same time proud, baroque,it presents the visitor with its fascinating mix of colours and architecture,with its varied landscape,surrounded by the Etna and the marvellous Sicilian sea.

Overlooking the Mediterranean Ionian Sea,dominated by Mount Etna,the "Monte dei Monti"(the mountain of the mountains"as the  Arabs called it).Catania is an important industrial and commercial centre,rich in ancient ruins,a bustling port,characterised by the Baroque style monuments and built entirely of lava rock,featuring buildings with its colour.The surrounding country, made more fertile by volcanic eruptions,is grown mostly in citrus gardens.The link between the city and the Vulcan is also visible in the buildings,many of which are built of lava stone.With the metropolitan area the city reaches 580,000 inhabitants,Catania is a significant economic center and a university city is culturally very active.Catania is famous  for its unique baroque architecture and its unique urban footprint,the centre of town is Unesco World Heritage Site,along with all the Noto Valley.

Originally the area was inhabited by the the"Sicani"the ancestral of current Sicilians,population coming from central and southern Italian peninsula during the Bronze Age.Famous Greeek Historian Thucydides tells that the town name of "Katane" means"flaying knife or grater,"and refers to the rough and bristling lava land on which it stands the current city.Catania was founded in 729 BC by a colony of Greeks from Chalcis,sailed from Naxos five years after the foundation of the city of Siracusa.Catania in that period hosted prominent Greek philosophers and writers such as Xenophanes,Ibycus and Stesichorus and was one of the most important cultural centres of "Megae Hellas"the "Magna Greece.In 476,Ierone of Syracuse deported the inhabitants and replaced them with others.The city's name was changed to Aitna"in relation with the Etna.Dead Ierone,Ducezio and Syracusans forced the inhabitants to move on the slopes of the Etna.Catania recovered well from 461 its name and its ancient inhabitants.In the war between Athens and Syracuse,Catania sided with Athens.Attacked from Syracuse was saved from the invasion of Sicily in 409 by Carthage.In 403 B.C.Dionysius of Syracuse reconquered the city and sold as slaves many the inhabitants.The 345 is the tyrant of the Sabellian Mamerco Catania,the first allied himself with Timoleon,then with Carthage."Katane"in 263 BC was conquered by the Romans during the Second Punic War and renamed "Catina".After the Roman conquest of the island,town and country are in a position of great ruin and devastation,thus requiring a brisk and impressive reconstruction.The"Pax Romana"arose immediately and with that effect "Catina",became,both in Republican than in the Imperial,a town rich and prosperous.Since then the city was part of those subject to paying a tax to Rome called "Civitas decumana".In the 1st century BC the area underwent several eruptions of Mount Etna,was also devastated by Catania suffered the Imperial war between Octavian and Sextus Pompeus.But even in the Augustan period begins social and economic recovery.In 21 BC Catania was elevated to the rank of "Colonia Romana",and acquired importance and wealth. Christianity will spread rapidly among his martyrs during the persecutions of Decius and Diocletian,excel Agatha, Patron Saint of the city and Sant'Euplio.
The barbarian invasions began with the Vandals and continue with the Heruli,the Ostrogoths and the first struggles with the Byzantines.

Belisario occupies Sicily in 535,is was occupied in 550 by Totila, but in 552,with the death of Totila,Sicily back under Byzantine control in555.Catania will remain until the Moorish conquest in the 9th century.The Hauteville Normans set foot in Sicily in 1060: conquered Palermo and other cities,taking possession of Catania in 1072.The Swabians Hohenstaufen,in Sicily came to power through the marriage of Constance De Hauteville,daughter of Roger II and Henry VI of Swabia,son of Frederik Redbeard.Dead William III,Henry VI claimed southern Italy and Sicily.At the end of the Hohenstaufen dynasty,in 1266 Sicily was assigned by the Pope,who considered the island patrimony of the Church,to Charles of Anjou, but the Angevin was short-lived.In 1282 the riots known as the "Sicilian Vespers"ended the Angevin island domination.The Aragonese fleet was soon in Sicily.The occupation of the city by Pedro of Aragon led off the domination of the Aragonese in Sicily from 1282 to 1410.Catania was the seat of the coronation of Aragonese King with the name of Peter I of Sicily and acquired a position of privilege during the 14th century.Catania was often chosen as the seat of Parliament and home of the Royal family.

Disputes between Aragonese and Angevins last long:they will end with the peace of Catania signed in 1372,Frederick III of Aragon,the Simple. Frederick left the kingdom to the minor daughter Mary,flanked by four vicars:Alagona Artale,Guglielmo Perrotta,Francesco Ventimiglia and Manfredi Chiaramonte.The vicars were soon at odds over who should marry Mary.The kidnapping of the young,accomplished by Guglielmo Raimondo Moncada,brought down the projects the Grand Justiciary of the kingdom and allowed the marriage of the Queen with Martin De Monteblanc.After the death of Mary in 1402,King Martin married Blanca,heir to the throne of Navarre,who chose to settle in Catania with the court.But Martin died in Cagliari in 1409 at the age of 33 years old and he was succeeded by his father Martin Duke of Monteblanc but died the following year.Blanca of Navarra had to defend her throne from the mire of the Grand Justiciary Bernardo Caprera,Count of Modica, but with the election of King Ferdinand I of Aragon,Catalonia,Valencia and Sicily was declared a province of the kingdom.Sicily is thus no longer a kingdom, but only one province and will be until the Bourbon rule.The successor of Ferdinand I,Alfonso the Magnanimous,met on May 25,1416,in the hall of the Parliaments of "Castello Ursino" all the barons and prelates of the island for the oath of allegiance to the Sovereign and up to 30 August there took place the last acts of political life that saw Catania capital city of the kingdom.The Sicily passing between the Spanish possessions overseas and will be governed by a viceroy who depart for ever the direct management of the sovereign political and economic. Catania continued to be favoured by the Spanish monarchs,but the people took part in the revolt against Ugo De Moncada in 1516.The riots of 1647,out of hatred for a government policy fiscals.A large lava flow, whose effusive vents were opened at low altitude in the Municipality of Nicolosi,invested in 1669 on the west and south of the city.The damage to the countryside,roads, and defence were very serious damaged,the walls of the city's defence failed to prevent,for the most part,that the lava entered in the town.22 years later,in 1693, another disaster struck Catania.A violent earthquake shook the entire eastern Sicily,but most damage is recorded in the Etnea area.After the earthquake of 1693,began the period of reconstruction and the town grew up to occupy one of the first places in the Italian trade.In 1820, Catania did not adhere to the independence movement and was part of the constitutional Neapolitans in 1837 participated in the riots,and in 1848 was at the forefront of the movement for autonomy.In August 1862 Giuseppe Garibaldi established the organisations centre of the expedition ended at Aspromonte.During the 2nd World War,after the Anglo-American landing in Sicily on July 9, 1943,the Germans,after locking the General Montgomery on the bridge "Primosole Simeto" outflanking manoeuvre to escape the Anglo-Americans,long persisted in defence of Catania,who evacuated only on August 5.

The civic symbol of Catania is the elephant, which,according to an ancient legend,freed Catania area from all vermin.The same legend of the Cyclops comes from prehistoric dwarf elephants of Sicily, because the hole in the centre of their skulls was interpreted not as the hole in the trunk,but as the orbit of the one eye of the mythical Cyclops.The main surprise of this city is the fact that it still exists.Indeed, no other city was destroyed and rebuilt nine times,and always in the same place as before.Under the arch of Porta Ferdinanda dated 18th century today "Porta Garibaldi",just down the same street,is carved with a phoenix, the mythical bird reborn from its ashes,under which reads "Melior de cinere surge","rise again more beautiful from my ashes.The historic centre of Catania is perfectly reproduced in the centre of the Australian city of Adelaide.This is because the planner Englishman William Light,who visited Catania in 1821,was responsible for drawing up the plan of Adelaide in 1836.


Catania is a very lively city,The food and fish markets just below the "Piazza del Duomo"(Cathedral Square) is alively and colorful place to visit.This fish market among the most active and exotic of Sicily and has been described by the famous British chef Rick Stein as the best fish market in the world,it is open from Monday to Saturday every morning.The Main street,"Via Etnea"is the equivalent of the "Ramblas" in Barcelona,while "Piazza Stesicoro" Stesichorus,is the original center of the city,with the ruins of the Roman amphitheater in size second only to the Colosseum in Rome.The "Teatro Massimo Bellini" dated 19th century,is a meeting point for young and adult of the city,also because of its neighborhood is the nightlife center of Catania.

The famous "Piazza del Duomo",(Cathedral square)is the main stage of Baroque Catania,completely rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1693.There stands the Cathedral.It was built between the 11th and 12th century.The Cathedral of Catania is dedicated to Sant´Agata (St.Agathe),was built during Normans occupation between 1070 and 1093 over the Roman ruins of the "Bagni di Achille"the famous "Achellliane Baths".The main facade is dated 18th century built by architect Vaccarini and on the left side you can admire a marble portal dated 1557.As the original building retains the strict Norman apses and transept.In the majestic interior with three naves,you can recognise three parts:the original one,the "Norman",in the apse and two side chapels,the"Swabian"in the bases of some columns,visible after excavation in the floor of the entrance and in the towers,now incorporated into the facade and finally the "Baroque",consisting of three naves by architect Girolamo Palazzotto and the facade by Vaccarini.

In the 14th century on the left side of the cathedral was built,by Simone Vesco,a huge tower,70 meters high,but it was destroyed by the earthquake of 1693,which remained intact only the transept with three apses and the sacristy with the side chapels Between 1733 and 1761 were carried out restoration work by the architect Vaccarini,who produced the main facade.Inside the Cathedral there are in addition to the valuable chapel of St.Agata,the tombs of the kings of Aragon and the tomb of the famous composer Vincenzo Bellini.


The theme of the martyrdom of St.Agata is linked to the cult of the Holy Catania mistress,just inside the cathedral,explodes in moments of faith and traditions,the shrine of St. Agata houses the relics of the Saint and the treasure.At its side stands the 18th century "Seminario dei Clerici"an ancient clerical seminary built in the 16th century but it was destroyed by the earthquake of 1693.Rebuilt in the early 18th century,was subsequently amended.The large building has an elegant facade,enriched by the contrast of white on a dark background pilasters.Today it houses the Diocesan Museum of Catania.

On the northern side of the square is"Palazzo Municipale"the Town Hall.It was built in the late 17th century to replace the existing medieval Loggia,destroyed by the earthquake and completed in 1714 by a beautiful courtyard.A great work is of course the "Forum Vaccarini",who,in 1735,stepped in,raising the ornate grandstand and changing the elevation of the plant.

The famous "Statua dell´Elefante" the statue of the Elephant,is at the centre of of the square,and the symbol of the city too.Catania inhabitants affectionately call it "U Liotru"(dialect version of the name of Heliodorus or Diodorus,the legendary Byzantine necromancer).The "Liotru" consists of a sculpted base that holds the lava statue of the elephant,from the Roman period,which in turn brings back an Egyptian obelisk in granite 3 meters high.And why this Elephant...The statue of the Elephant was designed in 1736 by Vaccarini,who used to achieve several things: the depiction of an elephant in the Vulcan Etna lava,probably Roman from Chartagine,an Egyptian obelisk,stained with hieroglyphics at the top,the traditional religious symbol of St.Agata,the Saint Patron of Catania and other symbols such as the tablet, the cross,the lily and the palm.The Elephant probably linked to  Eastern cults practised in the city in the classical age and legend said,it have been ridden by the sorcerer Heliodorus.There are anyway other historical hypotheses about this Elephant one is by the historian Pietro Carrera,explaining it is as a symbol of military victory of Catania on the Libyans,another one is by the Arab geographer Al Idrisi in the 12th century, according to which the elephant is a magical statue built in Byzantine times to remove offences from Catania Etna.The Elephant statue can be considered a nice quote from similar works by Bernini in Rome.

Next"Piazza Duomo "at the east side,is"Via Vittorio Emanuele",one of the most important Catania streets with Via Etnea where you can admire the "Chiesa di Sant´Ágata"(Church of St.Agatha).The Church of St.Agatha, with its imposing dome,the curved facade and the superb side elevation,is undoubtedly one of the most important Vaccarini masterpieces.The interior end of marble altars decorated floors in yellow,in contrast with the white stucco of the walls.A curiosity..The real and original name of the church is "Sant´Agata alle Carceri"translated is "Sant'Agata in Prison".It is so named because it sits where it was the Holy Roman prison where Agata was imprisoned before her martyrdom.The feast of St.Agatha is one of the most popular around the world and the Patron Saint Agatha is definitely the most loved by its devotees and charm, however,trace the origins of some aspects that relate to the cult of Isis.It seems that once the ferculum had the shape of the prow of a boat,in memory of the one on which he embarked in search of the Nile,beloved by Isis Osiris,slain and dismembered in September envy brother's wife on board a ship combed the banks of the Nile, until she could find all the pieces of her husband's body and bring it to life.Always dedicated to Isis is the obelisk,an octagonal stone placed on the rump of the elephant in "Piazza Duomo",and it seems that the Cathedral was built on the site where once stood a temple dedicated to the Egyptian goddess,of which however are not never been found to contain.Other traces of the cult of Isis are evident in the many existing holidays in Sicily where the patron saint is carried in procession on a ferculum.Evident traces of the cult of Isis are in the name itself, whose etymology seems more likely Isidis Polis, or "City of Isis".

Walking along "Via Vittorio Emanuele on the left side you can admire"Teatro Massimo Bellini"it is another landmark of Catania.It is the Opera House opened in 1890.Located in the historic center of Catania,in the middle of two important avenues,"Via Vittorio Emanuele" and "Via Antonio da Sangiuliano".The Theatre is dedicated to the famous composer Vincenzo Bellini,it is the largest and most important theater in the city and the most important in the Southern Italy after the Teatro San Carlo of Napoli.It was built by architect Carlo Sada and inaugurated on May 31,1890 with a performance of Bellini with his masterpiece"Norma".The theater has a hall,with perfect acoustics,an orchestra of 105 items,a chorus of 84 elements and relies on the Professionalism of a large group of designers who have made significant preparations.The theatre has been treated by such important directors such as Luchino Visconti,Giorgio Strehler and Franco Zeffirelli.

Coming back towards the Cathedral,is "Porta di Uzeda"a splendid Baroque gate,built in the 16th century walls.It is located at the end of "Via Etnea"and it was the ancient gate of the city access linking the city center to the port.Built for beautification,"Porta Uzeda" has never been part of the defensive system of Catania.It was so named in honor of the viceroy of Napoli Giovanni Francesco Trapani,the Duke of Uzeda.Here you can admire the ramparts of ancient "sea facade"of the "Palazzo Arcivescovile" the Archbishop's Palace.

Just beyond this Palace you can admire another beautiful palace,"Palazzo Biscari".The Palace is one of the finest examples of civil architecture in Catania and Sicily.Walking along "Via Dusmet" and crossing "Piazza Mazzini",the square adjacent to Piazza Duomo is "Via Garibaldi".Via Garibaldi begins in Piazza Duomo and heads,straight west.This area is one of the most lively and animated street of Catania,it is also very famous for the "Fontana dell´Amenano"The fountain,built in 1837 in Carrara marble,representing the river amenities such as a young man holding a cornucopia from which flows the water that is poured into a tank from the edge rounded.The water overflowing from this tank,produces a waterfall effect that gives the feeling of a sheet.Hence the Catania people way of saying "acqua a linzolu"(water and sheet) to indicate the fountain.The water that falls from the tank flows into the river below, which flows to a level of about two meters below the square.This is now the only point from which you can see the river throughout its course as it is buried.

Behind the fountain,a stone staircase leads to the lava Fish ancient market town which,together with the "Vucciria" of Palermo are among the more attractive of the two Sicilian towns folk.The picturesque "Pischiria" is the fish market of Catania.You will be immersed in a noisy,colourful and lively atmosphere.
"A Peschiria" is where sales follow the ritual with the usual bargaining on prices and "abbanniate"a magnify their wares shouting in dialect.Among other things, wandering through the market stalls, you can enjoy the fantastic snacks local,focacce the buns,filled with vegetables and cheese or meat, the "Sicilian" pizza that are fried,stuffed with cheese and anchovies.Catania is very famous for its "Spadare" and "Tonnare"fishing swordfish in sicilian is "A spadara" is the fish of swordfish while"A tonnara"is the fish of tuna.You can find in the market fresh tuna and swordfish,but also a lot of seafood,clams,mussels,octopus,squids and so on.The "Pescheria" fish market,sparkling water and silvery fish scales,was chosen by director Margarethe Von Trotta's film some scenes for "Gli anni di piombo (The Years of Lead).

In "Via Sant´Anna" very close to "Via Garibaldi",is "Casa Giovanni Verga".This 18th century building was the house of the famous Sicilian writer,who spent his childhood and the last years of his life, dying in 1922.The building now houses the Regional Museum.The original rooms were maintained.The library visit is available on request and it contains memorabilia and about two thousand volumes of the writer.Giovanni Verga,the realist writer and author of the unforgettable "Malavoglia","Mastro Don Gesualdo",was born in Catania in 1840 from a family of noble origins and liberal traditions..His story was first written down in the "Cavalleria Rusticana" by Pietro Mascagni's opera and then cinematically starring Eleonora Duse.From his novel The Malavoglia the director Luchino Visconti took the earth trembles, and the novel,which had already resulted in a film by Zeffirelli,has recently inspired "La Lupa",a movie with Raoul Bova and Monica Guerritore.

In the Western point of "Via Garibaldi"the road is closed from "Porta Garibaldi"in the past called "Porta Ferdinandea".It is a triumphal arch erected for the marriage of Ferdinand IV of Sicily and Maria Carolina of Austria.Here you can see another Catania symbol is perhaps the most fascinating and the one that represents the city of Catania,the "Fenice"the Phoenix.It is sculpted under the arch of the Gate King Ferdinand and it is accompanied by the words: "Melior de Cinerea surge",which means "reborn from my ashes more beautiful""The Phoenix,the mythical bird rising from its ashes is the true symbol of this city destroyed by 7 times and 7 times rebuilt in the same spot as before.Someone in the past said about Catania :"The main surprise of this city is that it still exists".

From here you can reach "Piazza Federico di Svevia"(Frederick of Swabia Square),where you can admire "Castello Ursino".Ursino Castle is an imposing square building with circular towers at the corners and a couple of meters thick walls.The name "Ursino"comes from the Latin "Castrum sinus",the castle of the beaches.Originally it stood high above the sea,but as a result of the lava flow caused by the eruption of Mount Etna in 1669 it is now some hundreds of metres from the coast.Ursino Castle,a stern, massive construction,was built between 1239 and 1250 by architect Riccardo di Lentini,by order of Frederick II of Swabia on a stretch of high land surrounded by the sea.The Emperor loved precise geometric shapes and this is a very good example,with its square plan,its four great circular towers measuring 10 metres in diameter at each corner,and its semicylindrical turrets halfway along each side.In "Catanese" dialect the castle is called "Castrussinu"in the collective imagination round the ramparts are the strength and the courage of the cruel "Giganti Ursini"(Ursini Giants)legendary warriors defeated by Roger II and guarding the city.A Catania legend says,were the Giants,or it was the"Pentalpha",a mysterious esoteric symbol,engraved at the entrance of the castle to save the King from the eruption in 1669 buried 2 kms of the beach front.Currently,the massive square building is home of the prestigious "Museo Civico"housing rich and important archaeological remains of the ancient town,from the collections of the Prince of Biscari and private donations.The museum was created in 1934 by the union of several collections and it houses objects from Biscari Museum but also objects joined by the Benedictine monks and donations of the Duke Asmundo Zappalà. The archaeological collection includes Greek sculptures from the 4th and 6th centuries B.C,Roman inscriptions,mosaics,Etruscan and Roman bronzes and an important collection of ancient vases.Further more the collection includes objects from the early Christian catacombs and medieval sculptures.Of note is also the collection of paintings,showing important works from the Byzantine art to the Sicilian painters of the 19th and 20th centuries and a very interesting numismatic collection too.

The "Chiesa di San Niccoló"the Church of St. Nicholas,is located in "Piazza Dante" at the end of "Via da Sangiuliano.It is one of the largest churches in Sicily in size.It was built in 1558,later,the church had a very sad and unlucky destiny.It was destroyed by the Etna eruption of 1669 and the subsequent earthquake in 1693.The reconstruction work,undertaken in the 18th century but unfortunately it was never completed.Actually, the suggestion of the site and is in part to two its own incompleteness.In Catania it named "A bedda ncompleta" it means "the beautiful incomplete".The facade,though unfinished,is evocative of the grandeur of the columns.The interior is really impressive.It is a Basilica divided into three aisles by massive transept pilasters.Inside the church preserves one of the largest existing organ built by Donato Del Piano.In the presbytery you can admire a chorus dated 18th century.The great dome is accessible to the public and you can enjoy from its summit a beautiful view of Catania.The Church of St.Nicholas was the place of a movie "Il matrimonio del bell´Antonio"performed by the great actors Marcello Mastroianni and Claudia Cardinale.


Coming back to the nearest "Via Via Vittorio Emanuele"is the entrance to the ancient Roman Theater.The theater is fully inserted between the buildings of"Piazza San Francesco" and "Via Vittorio Emanuele".This theatre is supposed to be of Greek origin dated 5th century BC,but the structures have all been rebuilt in Roman times.How auditorium,took advantage of the slopes of the on the "katané Acropolis",the ancient citadel.The steps were built with limestone blocks,divided into nine wedges,while the corridors were built with lava rock.Remain in the corridors again,the central part of the auditorium and the orchestra,paved in marble.Passing through the auditorium is reached near the "Odeon",very similar to the Taormina and Athens Odeon which effectively was used for testing for choirs and music competitions.

"Piazza San Francesco d'Assisi",is the place where you can visit the famous "Museo Belliniano" the Bellini Museum.It was established in the birthplace of the composer Vincenzo Bellini.Some objects are preserved inside belonged to the life of the musician,such as letters,paintings,documents and a collection of autograph scores photographs,further more the museum hosts scores of Italian and foreign musicians from the 18th to the 19th century.

Next to "Museo Belliniano" another important Catania museum the "Museo Emilio Greco".It was Inaugurated in 1994,here you can find a collection of  graphic works consisting of about 150 works,such as lithographs, etchings and sculptures arranged in chronological order.

Do not miss a visit to the "Chiesa di San Francesco D´Assisi" the Church of St.Francis of Assisi.The church is a great example of late baroque in Catania.The facade is built on two levels,by semi-tripartite.The interior has three naves,whose side domes and lanterns and preserves works of the 17th and 18th century,including an immaculate virgin wooden of the 18th century.

"Via dei Crociferi"is another symbol of Catania,it is also called "La Via Barocca",the Baroque street,for its several palaces,buildings and churches in baroque style."Via Cruciferi",drawn after the earthquake of 1693,its name "Cruciferi"to the church of "San Camillo dei Padri Cruciferi" the church of St.Camillus of Fathers Crociferi,which is at the end of the road.Already in ancient times it was enriched by beautiful buildings and churches,they were built by the most influential and noble Catania families and soon became the center of city life.After the earthquake with new civil constructions the road became the symbol of the power of the monastic orders in the 18th century.This area is one of the most splendid examples of Baroque Catania and declared UNESCO site with a lot of Historical monuments.One of them is the "Arco di San Benedetto"the Arch of St. Benedict.A legend says that the arch of St. Benedict was built in one night in the year 1704.Other beautiful buildings are "La grande Badia (the Great Abbey) and the "Badia Piccola" the small Abbey.The "Chiesa di San Francesco Borgia"(the Church of St. Francis Borgia),"Collegio dei Gesuiti" (Jesuit College) the Church of Sangiuliano and naturally the "Convento di San Camillo dei Padri Cruciferi".Via Cruciferi is made more dramatic by the colors of the facades of buildings and railings from the large stairs that link the churches to the road surface.In recent times,some architects designed various solutions to bring it back to the original splendor,for now left without implementation.
Via Crociferi was a backdrop of some famous movies such as film "La sposa bella",(The beautiful bride), with Ava Gardner and Dirk Bogarde and"Paolo il Caldo"(the hot Paul),performed by Giancarlo Giannini.

At the southern end of the road there,built on a staircase just beyond the "Arco di San Benedetto" the great "Chiesa di San Benedetto"the Church of St.Benedict,with end of wooden portal and vestibule adorned with statues.The Church of St. Benedict is present in the film The "Bell'Antonio", and the Benedictine Monastery in the History of a blackcap "Storia di una capinera"(History of a blackcap) directed by Zeffirelli and comes from the homonymous novel by Giovanni Verga.

Immediately after is the Church of "San Francesco Borgia" with the adjoining the Jesuit College.The church, dating from the late 18th century.It is preceded by a double staircase,the façade has two orders of columns and is surmounted by a dome,the work is by the Jesuit Angelo Italia.Noteworthy is the interior cloister.Take a look in front of the Jesuit College to the "Chiesa di Sangiuliano"the Church of Sangiuliano.This church was designed by architect Vaccarini in the 18th century,very particular is the front facade it is convex,while the dome is an arcade surrounded by a big loggia.The interior houses a wooden crucifix of the 14th century.At the end of the street the "Chiesa di San Camillo dei Padri Cruciferi" mentioned before originally it was the  Monastery of the Fathers of the Church of St. Camillus Cruciferi,impressive is the yellow marble altar.


Very close is the portal of "Villa Cerami",whose courtyard is a bronze of considerable Interest: "La Bagnante"(Te Bather) by Emilio Greco.The Villa was the splendid residence of the Prince of Cerami and of course it is one of the historic and most important buildings of Catania.It was built a few years after the earthquake of 1693.This magnificent Villa built in an elegant Baroque style,however,several times changed in some architectonical details.In the 19th century,architect Carlo Sada transformed the facade and the interior of the building,but the changes made by the removed restorations were when this "Villa" was completed and became part of at the University of Catania in 1957.This building at the beginning of the 20th century was in slow decline,it needed a restoration for that it was purchased by the University of Catania and assigned to the Faculty of Law.In that period it was approved on a restoration project restored the house to the original appearance.The courtyard was honored with a porch,the staircase of Sada,the rooms with original furnishings and the "Sala delle Feste"the Hall of celebrations.

"Via dei Cruciferi"is also famous for a curious legend:"the legend of the horse without head"..This legend was born in Catania in 700.Legend Cruciferi Street and set in once the home of nobles who had their night meetings and love affairs that had to be kept secret.So the rumor that they did wander a horse at night without a head, a voice that intimidated citizenship and prevented people from leaving home once darkness fell. Only a young man made a bet with his friends who would go in the middle of the night, and to prove it, he planted a large nail through the Arc of the Benedictine Nuns.Friends accepted the bet and the young man went at midnight under the arch of the nuns, and planted the nail but did not notice that he have attached to the wall a piece of his cloak, then,when he wanted to get off the scale,was prevented movements and, believing he had been grabbed by the horse without a head,died.While winning the bet,the legend was confirmed.

Coming back to the familiar"Piazza Duomo",in front of the square is "Via Etnea".It is the big avenue crosses the city,this long street is full of shops,archaeological sites,historical and important buildings."Via Etnea" has been for long time the heart of Catania's history,during the Spanish domination,and it was almost destroyed during the volcan Etna eruption in 1669 and later with the earthquake dated 1693.After these two events the town plan was then redesigned and "Via Etnea" became an important point of reference remembering the ancient urbanistic plan of the Greek era during the period of "Megae Hellas" (Magna Greece) and later during the Roman period."Via Etnea" became the ancient "Roman Decumanus" leading  to the "Magnus Teatrus"next to the current Cathedral Square and facing the sea,until to the "Porta di Uzeda".After the 19th century the street became an important social and cultural meeting point.Via Etnea runs straight for about 4 kilometers to the north,it is very busy at all hours of day and night,especially in summer and it boasts impressive monuments.

The first attractions you can admire are "Piazza  Universitá"University Square,and the "Palazzo Sangiuliano".On the left is the beautiful "Collegiata Basilica di Santa Maria" a masterpiece by architects Angelo Italia and Stefano Ittar.Originally the name of this church was "Basilica di Santa Maria dell'Elemosina",it is an ancient Byzantine building,it was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693.The magnificent curved facade is a work by Stefano Ittar it became the religious point of reference for all the noble families of Catania.

Walking along "Via Etnea",you will reach "Piazza Stesicoro".This square is today an animated and lively place of Catania.The square offers a glimpse of the ancient,Roman amphitheater.It was one of the greatest among those known,second only to the Coliseum in Rome and the Arena of Verona.Built in the 2nd century AD during the Roman period,originally it occupied a large area of Catania.
For different reasons and events,it suffered a premature deterioration,during the Longobard rule of Theodoric in the 5th and 6th centuries.Catania inhabitants used the fallen stones for the construction of the defensive walls.At the end of the 11th century,the Count Roger used the amphitheater lava blocks for the construction of the Cathedral.What remained of the monument,adhering to the walls,was partially demolished to prevent enemies from invading the city and he earthquake of 1693 did the rest.Today little remains of the original structure is the lower corridor and part of the time.The coating is made of lava blocks of the examination material and are the capitals,the brick arches and the seats of limestone.Via Etnea inspired the literary characters of Don Giovanni in Sicily,and Vitaliano Brancati filmed on this avenue "A beautiful November".

Next to the Post Office building on the left you can admire the beautiful entrance of the "Parco Villa Bellini",for Catania people is a symbol and proud,once but still today this park was called "u labirintu" the "Labyrinth",for its several paths surrounded by palms and mediterranean flora,it was owned until the mid-19th century by the noble family Biscari.
It was opened to the public after several embellishments,including the addition of the scenic bridge near "Via Sant'Euplio",some marble busts and stone statues and the "funtanna di cigni"the pool of swans.Well and now a "sweet break"as Catania people say :"na docce pausa"..In via Etnea at number 302 you can not miss a stop in the famous "Pasticceria Savia"the old and famous Pastry Savia,you are in Sicily, so have here a fresh typical Sicilian Granite or a "cannolu ripienu"(sicilian cannoli filled with cream or other ingredients) or taste the famous "Cassatella di Sant´Agata"(the typical ice cream cake,a derivation of the famous "Cassata Sicula",the "Cassatella" is a typical Catania product or taste the"Arancini" Traditionally the "Arancini"are rice balls,they are shaped like "pear"if the sauce, seasoning,and if the round 'with (butter,pepper,cheese without sauce,if it is eggshaped rice balls stuffed with vegetables or spinach often also mixed rice dough they can be cooked fried or in the oven depending of the Sicilia area,in the Eastern Sicilia here in Catania and Siracusa, more fried than in the oven in the Western or Northern sicily more in the oven.

"Via XX Settembre"is a great place for shopping.The shop"Marella Ferrera" produces original artifacts using the oldest materials provided by nature,such as objects in lava stone,ceramics,stones, papyrus and wax
Not far in "Viale Jonio" if you like antiquities is the shop "Michele La Porta" and if you are fond about ceramic in "Via Teramo" the shop,"Antonio Cannella"offers you a wide range of the famous ceramics of Caltagirone.

"Amuninni a u mare" (let´s go to the sea) is a typical saying in Catania to go to the beach..Crossing "Piazza Europa "(Europe Square) is in the district of "San giovanni Li Cuti" with a splendid view on the mediterranean ionian sea,a nice walk along the promenade sohw you the mediterranean charm of Catania looking at the colorful boats,this place was in the past the fishers district where the fishers left Catania for the "tonnare" and "spadare" going to fish tuna and swordfish far from the coast.The lava rock reef and beach of golden sand,the limit of these two areas is the promenade known affectionately as 'u passiaturi"to Piazza Martiri" Martyrs'Square,hence the Obelisk of St Agatha who crushes the serpent, goes to Central Station.If you prefer the sand further south towards the harbor, where one of the facilities for recreational boats.in Via Dusmet area away from the road that skirts the harbor of the Marina, you come to Piazza Borsellino,from there you will get the beach.Catania has 3 free beaches,the first beach is just past the harbor and from there begin the bathing establishments with the other beaches,the oldest of Catania.


The Feast of S.Agata is an important event in Catania,three days of worship,devotion,folklore and traditions that are not reflected in the world. Only the the feast of Corpus Christi in Cuzco in Peru and  Holy Week of Seville in Spain  'may be compared, in terms of popularity', the celebrations agatini, five centuries always equal.For three days the people swarming in the streets and squares.Devout or curious there are hundreds and hundreds of thousands, even up to one million.

Catania is a city with the highest density of theater in Sicily. Many theater companies that work for both professional and amateur. The most important theater in town is the Teatro Massimo Bellini, built in the style of the Paris Opera,by the architect Carlo Sada in the late nineteenth century and inaugurated in 1890. Today is a traditional opera house, boasts a symphony orchestra and a chorus stable and is home to opera and concert season. For some years now has the room of the Teatro Sangiorgi that is used for chamber music concerts and performances tests.Are also very active in the "Teatro Stabile" which does business in both the theater in which Verga Theater Musco and the Metropolitan Theater, and the Little Theatre. Then there are the Ambassadors Theatre and Erwin Piscator.
Apart Theatres,Catania offers a very vibrant and lively nightlife,"Caffè Concerto",is an entity extending the activities in Catania open spaces and offering live music and multimedia events.
The "Caffé Sikelia", located close to Piazza Stesicoro and Via Etnea is a club with excellent cocktails and music,"The Empire"is very famous fas loung bar and also restaurant,the club offers the opportunity to eat,drink and dance.In "Viale Kennedy" there are many clubs and discos to enjoy Catania by night,such as "La Plaza","Le Capannine","Yazz Club" and "Pegaso Circus".

Catania is also music..The greatest artistic glory of the city of Catania is the composer Vincenzo Bellini was born in this city in 1801 and died at Paris in 1835,the author of several operas,including masterpieces like "Norma","La Sonnambula"and "I Puritani".In the field of classical music, Catania has given birth to other famous composers of the 20th century such asAlfredo Sangiorgi,Aldo Clementi,Francesco Pennisi, Roberto Carnevale and Matteo Musumeci.In the early 70s arose dozens of new songwriters and bands in pop music.The most important is probably Franco Battiato, a popular singer-songwriter born and raised in the province of Catania, whose musical experiments have influenced many other authors.Then came Gianni Bella, Marcella Bella,Umberto Balsamo, Vincenzo Spampinato,Mario Venuti and the Denovo Luca Madonia,Sophomore Attempt,Carmen Consoli,Gerardina Trovato and many others.

The typical cuisine of Catania is linked to the sea,fish,seafood,very typical,is "risotto al nero di seppia"(rice with cuttlefish sauce),"sarde con cipollata"(big sardine with onion slices),"alici con olive"" (blue fish with olives or matined olives),"u timballu cú sardine e mascolini"(a typical timbale with parsley,olive oil,sardines),"parmiggiana di pisci",(it is a pie of swordfish with eggplants,parmesan,olive oil,basil,toamto and eggs),"spaghitti cu gamberi"(spaghetti with shrimps),"fusilli cu pisci spata" (pasta with swordfish sauce),""Ravioli di cernia" (grouper ravioli), "pisci spata cu agrumi"(swordfish with citrus fruits),grilled swordfish,mussels,clams,prawns,but not only fish and seafood you can taste"bucatini o spaghetti alici e mollica" and the famous "Pasta alla Norma" named after the famous Bellini Opera "Norma"it is a succulent delicacy made with eggplant and salt ricotta.Further more thee typical "Cassata","Cassatelle di Sant´Agata" and "Cannoli Siciliani" are desserts known worldwide and the famous "Granita"a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavorings,in particular orange,lemon and mint are them ost famous in Catania.It is tradition in Sicily enjoying the granita with brioche.

The City is also famous for its "Chioschi".The tradition was born in the late 19th century to offer people  refreshing drinks in the summer.The beverage kiosks are unique: there used to be vendors of soft drinks,"Granite""Limonate","Succhi d´Arancia" and the "Zammú"a drinl of anise.This activity has stabilized and strategic places where shady lurking to sell refreshments,the sellers have placed in these special architectures square or circular openings from which similar to windows,you can find many "Chioschi" in all the most important points in Catania,from "Piazza Stesicoro" to "Piazza Duomo",from "Piazza Vittorio Emanuele"to "Via Etnea".

Catania international Airport "Vincenzo Bellini Fontanarossa"s located abot 6 kilometers south of the city.
It is the 6th Italian airport for passenger numbers,but in terms of domestic flights is in the 3rd place,after Rome-Fiumicino Airport and Milan Linate Airport.The airport is a main stop of Southern served by scheduled airlines and low-cost,and has numerous domestic destinations and international flights.The airport is located near the A19 motorway, which links Catania with Palermo through the center of Sicily, while the E45 motorway goes to Syracuse in the south.A bus service provides connections to the center of Catania and the Central Railway Station.The urban orange Buses are managed by the network AMT and reach all areas of the City.The Catania Metro is long about 4 kilometers,managed by "Circumetnea",it consists in 6 stations.

Today,Catania is one of the most important tourist destinations in southern Italy. Fair and baroque days, Catania in the evening turns into a vibrant city,full of interesting proposals to meet the tastes and expectations of all audiences.

A song by Giuseppe Castiglia about Catania (the title is "Fighiozza d´o Patri Eternu" in Sicilian dialect means.. Daughter of Eternal Father) and it says.."Catania è'na pupa,capiddi castani,labbra carnusi e l'occhi ruffiani...é dovve l'alba d'argentu s'ammisca cò mari",distrutta e pì setti voti rinata,non c'entrunu i sordi,non c'entra a furtuna,Catania ndo Munnu ci nnè sulu una..Catania is like a pretty doll with dark brown hair with fleshy lips and pimp lips..It is where the dawn of silver is mixed with the sea..destroyed and reborn seven times,does not matter the money,does not matter the luck,in the World there is only one Catania".


Francesco Mari



RECOMMENDED HOTELS IN CATANIA

MANGANELLI PALACE HOTEL
VILLA DEL BOSCO HOTEL
LIBERTY HOTEL
GRAN HOTEL EXCELSIOR
HOTEL VILLA ROMEO
HOTEL ROYAL
HOTEL ROMANO PALACE
HOTEL LA VILLE
HOTEL NH BELLINI
HOTEL BEST WESTERN MEDITERRANEO  

RECOMMENDED RESTAURANTS IN CATANIA
RISTORANTE AGORA
RISOTRANTE AMBASCIATA DEL MARE
RISTORANTE IL CIRNECO
RISTORANTE IL CUCINIERE
RISTORANTE CICIULENA
RISTORANTE AL CAVALIER ROXY
RISOTRANTE VINERIA PICASSO
RISTORANTE SALE ART CAFÉ
RISTORANTE TAVERNA DEI CONTI
TRATTORIA DON TURIDDU
RISTORANTE PIZZERIA VIA COPPOLA 

RECOMMENDED ETHNIC RESTAURANTS

RISTORANTE LES CREPES (FRENCH CUISINE)
RISTORANTE EN (JAPANESE CUISINE)
RISTORANTE NIEVSKI (GREEK CUISINE)
RISTORANTE THE BANGKOK (THAI CUISINE)
RISTORANTE LA GRANDE MURAGLIA (CHINESE CUISINE)

www.turismo.catania.it
www.regione.sicilia.it
 www.bestofsicily.com
 sicilia.indettaglio.it
 www.provincia.ct.it
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