Sicily’s second – city of Catania

Catania city view, ©Leandro's World Tour/Flickr

Catania city view, ©Leandro’s World Tour/Flickr

The city of Catania is one of the most important cities of Sicily. This beautiful town being located close to Etna has been damaged several times by earthquakes and lava flows, especially during the 17th century. The city was originally founded by a people called the Siculi and later in 729 BC it was colonized by Greeks from Naxos. In 263 AD Catania has been conquered by the Romans and in time it has become the most prosperous town of Roman Sicily. From the Middle Age onwards Catania was an important port joint but in 1169 a violent earthquake severely damaged it but gradually it was rebuilt and today stands as the second most important city in Sicily.

What the Romans left behind

There are many things to see in Catania and one can never get bored while visiting this beautiful Italian city. The town has two amazing amphitheatres from the Roman era: a smaller one built upon a former Greek theatre located near the Piazza San Francesco d’Assisi, which can be visited by the public; and a larger one situated close to Piazza Stesicoro. Today only a small part of the theatre is visible for most parts of the building are located underground. The theatre reminds of the Colosseum.

Theatre of Catania, ©askii/Flickr

Theatre of Catania, ©askii/Flickr

Ursino Castle

The 14th century castle of Ursino which used to be a fortress before the eruptions of Etna extended the coastline is situated by the Piazza Federico di Svevia. The building of the castle was ordered by Emperor Fredrick II von Hohenstaufen and completed by Richard de Lentina. Today it stands converted as a museum which can be visited by the public.

Ursino Castle, ©grahamc99/Flickr

Ursino Castle, ©grahamc99/Flickr

Remains of the 18th century

Most of the streets and palaces in Catania were built in the 18th century and were painted gray by the volcanic eruptions of Etna. This period was also a time of reconstruction when many noble families who came from the eastern region of Sicily started to build palaces in the city. Since then Palermo and Catania are economic and social rivalry with each other. However the city of Palermo is Sicily’s administrative center Catania is more industrial. Most generally Catania is a less chaotic, cleaner, more open and warmer city than Palermo.

Catania city view, ©Leandro's World Tour/Flickr

Catania city view, ©Leandro’s World Tour/Flickr

Get connected

Catania is a perfect connection location from where you can get about anywhere in Sicily. You can take the bus or the train towards Etna, Palermo, Fontanarossa airport or various cities nearby. There are frequent buses and train departures towards Messina, Taormina or Syracuse and the mainland.

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