VISITING THE INNER-CITY
Catania, a vivacious city located at the foot of Mount Etna, has been repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt in the aftermath of devastating earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The city boasts a beautiful baroque city center that has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Catania is often referred to as “La città nera” (the dark city), due to fact that lava stone used as the primary building material in both the city’s buildings and streets. The city was founded in 729 BC by the Calcidesi (an ancient Greek civilization) and still reaps the rewards of having had a glorious past; the proof of this impressive past is present in the city’s extensive artistic, architectural and cultural heritage. Under the rule of The King of Aragón, Catania was also the capital of the Kingdom of Sicily. Today, Catania is famous for its bustling nightlife. Cafés and clubs are full of students and oftentimes have live music. Generally, bars are open until 3am. The liveliest areas are: Piazza Bellini, Via Santa Filomena, Via Penninello, Via Montesano, San Giovanni Li Cuti (a waterfront neighborhood of Catania), and the long Playa beach.
The majestic square, constructed in lava stone, was built in the 18th Century by Vaccarini, and has magnificent monuments including: the Amenano Fountain (which pays homage to the river on whose banks the Greeks founded the city of Katane); the Cathedral of Saint Agatha, whose extraordinary festival is held on the 5th of February; and at the center of the square is the “liotru” elephant statute made of lava stone, which acts as a base to an Egyptian obelisk. Legend has it that the statute was used by the magician Eliodoro to defend the city from the dangers of the volcano. Today, the elephant is the symbol of the city.
PESCHERIA - FISH MASKET
Every weekday morning, located just behind the Piazza Duomo, there is an animated, picturesque, and vibrant fish market.
Originally surrounded by the sea, the Ursino Castle later became landlocked following the eruption of Mount Etna in 1693. Today, the castle houses the Museo Civico, which has the prestigious archeological collection once owned by the Biscari Princes.
Via Etnea is the main artery of the city, lined with Baroque buildings and cafes, and from where you can admire the view of the volcano. If you follow the street in a northerly direction, you will reach the University Square, Palazzo di Sangiuliano, the Collegiata Church, the ruins of an ancient Roman amphitheater, and the magnificent gardens of Villa Bellini.
Uzeda is a historic gate from the 17th Century that linked the city to the port.
The magnificent Bellini Theater, which is the main theater of the city, is dedicated to Vincenzo Bellini, the author of various operas including: La Sonnambula, Norma, and I Puritani.
Once the home of Vincenzo Bellini, a famous composer from Catania, this building is now a museum that houses an extensive collection of sheet music and memorabilia belonging to the musician.
GIOVANNI VERGA'S HOUSE
Inside the 13th century building that was Giovanni Verga’s house you can find furniture, books, and portraits of the famous realist author.
This group of buildings that once were sulfur refineries now houses a contemporary cultural center, which includes both the Museum of the Allied Landing in Sicily and the Museum of Film.
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