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—  Comune  —
Comune di Catania
A collage of Catania.


Coat of arms
Catania is located in Italy
Location of Catania in Italy
Coordinates: 37°30′0″N 15°5′25″E / 37.5°N 15.09028°E / 37.5; 15.09028Coordinates: 37°30′0″N 15°5′25″E / 37.5°N 15.09028°E / 37.5; 15.09028
Country Italy
Region Sicily
Province Catania (CT)
Frazioni San Giovanni Galermo
 - Mayor Raffaele Stancanelli
 - Total 180.88 km2 (69.8 sq mi)
Elevation 7 m (23 ft)
Population (31 March 2009)
 - Total 296,303
 Density 1,638.1/km2 (4,242.7/sq mi)
 - Demonym Catanesi
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 95100
Dialing code 095
Patron saint St. Agatha
Saint day February 5
Website Official website
u Liotru, symbol of Catania
Giovanni Battista Vaccarini's Duomo façade (1736) is an example of the city's Sicilian Baroque architecture.
Piazza Duomo (Cathedral Square).
Catania on XVI century

Catania About this sound listen (pronounced [kaˈta(ː)nja], Greek: ΚατάνηKatáni; Latin: Catăna and Catĭna[1]) is an Italian city on the east coast of Sicily facing the Ionian Sea, between Messina and Syracuse. It is the capital of the eponymous province, and with 298,957 inhabitants[2] (752,895 in the Metropolitan Area)[2] it is the second-largest city in Sicily and the tenth in Italy. The Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Normans, the Byzantines, the Swabians and the Aragons all met and clashed here, leaving profound traces of their cultures.



Siculian prehistory

The ancient indigenous population of Sicels named their villages after geographical attributes of the locations. The Siculian word "Katane" means "grater, flaying knife, skinning place" or a "crude tool apt to pare". This name was adopted by Greek colonists. Other translations for the name are "harsh lands," "uneven ground," "sharp stones," and "rugged or rough soil".

Such last variety of senses is easily justifiable since in the centuries the Metropolis of Etna has always been rebuilt and set inside its typical black lavic landscape.[3]

Chalcidian colony of the Sicilian Naxos

Around 729 BC, the archaic village of Katane became the Chalcidian colony of Katánē where all the native population was bound to be rapidly assimilated and Hellenized. The Naxian founders, coming from the near coast, later make use of the primal autochthonal name for their new settlement along the River Amenanus.

Roman Empire

Around 263 BC, the Etnean Decuman City was far-famed as Catĭna and Catăna.

The former has been primarily utilized for a supposed assonance with "catina", namely the Latin feminization of the vocable "catinus".[4]

Catinus hides, in fact, two main values: "a gulf, a basin, a bay" and "a bowl, a vessel, a trough".

Both explications may be admissible thanks to the city’s distinctive trait and topography. Catania has constantly abutted on the waters of its vast homonymous Gulf, and besides she has always been reconstructed without having to fear of growing on the blackish asperities of the acuminate slopes of Etna.

Saracenic Denominations

Around 900 AD, the Saracenic Dominance gave rise to Balad-Al-Fil and Medinat-Al-Fil, the two official Catania's Arabic appellatives. The first translates "The Village or The Country of the Elephant" and the second means "The City of the Elephant".[5]

The Elephant is the lavic one of Piazza Duomo’s Fountain, probably just a prehistorical sculpture reforged in Byzantine Era, an idolatrised talisman that was reputed capable to protect the city from any sort of enemies and powerful enough to keep away misfortune, plagues or natural calamities.

The Muslim Conquerors accepted this pachydermical protection deciding to name after it the vanquished town. Today's name stems from an Arab toponym. Qatanyiah are literally "the leguminous plants" (in Arab Qataniyy), whose feminized collective suffix is yiah.[6] Pulses like lentils, beans, peas, broad beans and lupins were chiefly cultivated in the Catanian Plain before the arrival of Aghlabites' soldiery from Tunisia.

Afterwards, many Islamic agronomists will be the principal boosters and those who overcropped the citruses orchards in the greater part of Sicily's ploughlands.

Lastly, Wadi Musa intends the River or the Valley of Moses that is to say the sometime Arab name of the Symaethus River, but this denomination was rarely associated to pinpoint the seat of the then Emirate of Catania.[6][7][8]


Catania is located on the east coast of the island, at the foot of the active volcano Mount Etna.

The position of Catania at the foot of Mount Etna was the source, as Strabo remarks, both of benefits and evils to the city. For on the one hand, the violent outbursts of the volcano from time to time desolated great parts of its territory; on the other, the volcanic ashes produced a soil of great fertility, adapted especially for the growth of vines. (Strab. vi. p. 269.)

Under the city run the river Amenano, visible in just one point, south of Piazza Duomo and the river Longane or Lognina.[9]



All ancient authors agree in representing Catania as a Greek colony named Κατάνη (Katánē—see also List of traditional Greek place names) of Chalcidic origin, but founded immediately from the neighboring city of Naxos, under the guidance of a leader named Euarchos (Euarchus).

The exact date of its foundation is not recorded, but it appears from Thucydides to have followed shortly after that of Leontini (modern Lentini), which he places in the fifth year after Syracuse, or 730 BC.[10]

Greek Sicily

The only event of its early history which has been transmitted to us is the legislation of Charondas, and even of this the date is wholly uncertain.

But from the fact that his legislation was extended to the other Chalcidic cities, not only of Sicily, but of Magna Graecia also, as well as to his own country,[11] it is evident that Catania continued in intimate relations with these kindred cities.

It seems to have retained its independence till the time of Hieron of Syracuse, but that despot, in 476 BC, expelled all the original inhabitants, whom he established at Leontini, while he repeopled the city with a new body of colonists, amounting, it is said, to not less than 10,000 in number, and consisting partly of Syracusans, partly of Peloponnesians.

He at the same time changed the city's name to Αἴτνη (Aítnē, Aetna or Ætna, after the nearby Mount Etna, an active volcano), and caused himself to be proclaimed the Oekist or founder of the new city. As such he was celebrated by Pindar, and after his death obtained heroic honors from the citizens of his new colony.[12]

But this state of things was of brief duration, and a few years after the death of Hieron and the expulsion of Thrasybulus, the Syracusans combined with Ducetius, king of the Siculi, to expel the newly settled inhabitants of Catania, who were compelled to retire to the fortress of Inessa (to which they gave the name of Aetna), while the old Chalcidic citizens were reinstated in the possession of Catania, 461 BC.[13]

The period which followed the settlement of affairs at this epoch appears to have been one of great prosperity for Catania, as well as for the Sicilian cities in general: however, no details of its history are known till the great Athenian expedition to Sicily (part of the larger Peloponnesian War).

On that occasion the Catanaeans, notwithstanding their Chalcidic connections, at first refused to receive the Athenians into their city: but the latter having effected an entrance, they found themselves compelled to espouse the alliance of the invaders, and Catania became in consequence the headquarters of the Athenian armament throughout the first year of the expedition, and the base of their subsequent operations against Syracuse.[14]

There is no information as to the fate of Catania after the close of this expedition: it is next mentioned in 403 BC, when it fell into the power of Dionysius I of Syracuse, who sold the inhabitants as slaves, and gave up the city to plunder; after which he established there a body of Campanian mercenaries.

These, however, quit it again in 396 BC, and retired to Aetna, on the approach of the great Carthaginian armament under Himilco and Mago. The great sea-fight in which the latter defeated Leptines, the brother of Dionysius, was fought immediately off Catania, and the city apparently fell, in consequence, into the hands of the Carthaginians.[15]

Callippus, the assassin of Dion of Syracuse, when he was expelled from Syracuse, for a time held possession of Catania (Plut. Dion. 58); and when Timoleon landed in Sicily Catania was subject to a despot named Mamercus, who at first joined the Corinthian leader but afterwards abandoned his alliance for that of the Carthaginians, and was in consequence attacked and expelled by Timoleon.[16]

Catania was now restored to liberty, and appears to have continued to retain its independence; during the wars of Agathocles with the Carthaginians, it sided at one time with the former, at others with the latter; and when Pyrrhus landed in Sicily, Catania was the first to open its gates to him, and received him with the greatest magnificence.[17]

Roman rule

In the First Punic War, Catania was one of the first among the cities of Sicily, which made their submission to the Roman Republic, after the first successes of their arms in 263 BC.[18] The expression of Pliny (vii. 60) who represents it as having been taken by Valerius Messalla, is certainly a mistake.

It appears to have continued afterwards steadily to maintain its friendly relations with Rome, and though it did not enjoy the advantages of a confederate city (foederata civitas), like its neighbors Tauromenium (modern Taormina) and Messana (modern Messina), it rose to a position of great prosperity under the Roman rule.

Cicero repeatedly mentions it as, in his time, a wealthy and flourishing city; it retained its ancient municipal institutions, its chief magistrate bearing the title of Proagorus; and appears to have been one of the principal ports of Sicily for the export of corn.[19]

It subsequently suffered severely from the ravages of Sextus Pompeius, and was in consequence one of the cities to which a colony was sent by Augustus; a measure that appears to have in a great degree restored its prosperity, so that in Strabo's time it was one of the few cities in the island that was in a flourishing condition.[20]

It retained its colonial rank, as well as its prosperity, throughout the period of the Roman Empire; so that in the 4th century Ausonius in his Ordo Nobilium Urbium, notices Catania and Syracuse alone among the cities of Sicily.[21]

Locational significance

One of the most serious eruptions of Mount Etna happened in 121 BC, when great part of Catania was overwhelmed by streams of lava, and the hot ashes fell in such quantities in the city itself, as to break in the roofs of the houses.

Catania was in consequence exempted, for 10 years, from its usual contributions to the Roman state. (Oros. v. 13.) The greater part of the broad tract of plain to the southwest of Catania (now called the Piana di Catania, a district of great fertility), appears to have belonged, in ancient times, to Leontini or Centuripa (modern Centuripe), but that portion of it between Catana itself and the mouth of the Symaethus, was annexed to the territory of the latter city, and must have furnished abundant supplies of grain.

The port of Catania also, which was in great part filled up by the eruption of 1669 AD, appears to have been in ancient times much frequented, and was the chief place of export for the corn of the rich neighboring plains. The little river Amenanus, or Amenas, which flowed through the city, was a very small stream, and could never have been navigable.

Catania's Renown in Antiquity

Catania was the birth-place of the philosopher and legislator Charondas; it was also the place of residence of the poet Stesichorus, who died there, and was buried in a magnificent sepulchre outside one of the gates, which derived from thence the name of Porta Stesichoreia. (Suda, under Στησίχορος.)

Xenophanes, the philosopher of Elea, also spent the latter years of his life there,[22] so that it was evidently, at an early period, a place of cultivation and refinement.

The first introduction of dancing to accompany the flute, was also ascribed to Andron, a citizen of Catania (Athen. i. p. 22, c.); and the first sundial that was set up in the Roman forum was carried thither by Valerius Messala from Catania, 263 BC.[23]

But few associations connected with Catania were more celebrated in ancient times than the Legend of the Pii Fratres, Amphinomus and Anapias, who, on occasion of a great eruption of Etna, abandoned all their property, and carried off their aged parents on their shoulders, the stream of lava itself was said to have parted, and flowed aside so as not to harm them.

Statues were erected to their honor, and the place of their burial was known as the Campus Piorum; the Catanaeans even introduced the figures of the youths on their coins, and the legend became a favorite subject of allusion and declamation among the Latin poets, of whom the younger Lucilius and Claudian have dwelt upon it at considerable length.

The occurrence is referred by Hyginus to the first eruption of Etna that took place after the settlement of Catania.[24]

From the fall of the Roman Empire to the unification of Italy

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Catania, like the rest of Sicily, became subjected to the following dominations:[25]

In 1693 the city was completely destroyed by earthquakes and by lava flows which ran over and around it into the sea. The city was then rebuilt in the precious Baroque architecture that nowadays enjoys.

Unified Italy

In 1860 Giuseppe Garibaldi's expedition of the Thousand conquered Sicily for Piedmont from the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Since the following year Catania was part of the newly unified Italy, whose history it shares since then.

After World War II, and the constitution of Italian Republic (1946), the history of Catania is, like the history of other cities of Southern Italy, an attempt to catch up with the economic and social development of the richer northern regions in the country and to solve the problems that for historic reasons plague the Mezzogiorno, namely a heavy gap in industrial development and infrastructures, and the threat of the mafia.

This notwithstanding, during the 1960s (and partly during the 1990s) Catania enjoyed a development and an economic, social and cultural effervescence. In the 2000s, Catania economic and social development somewhat faltered and the city is again facing economic and social stagnation.


Climate data for Catania, Sicily
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 15.4
Average low °C (°F) 5.3
Precipitation mm (inches) 74.8
Source: [26] December 31, 2008

Metropolitan area

The Metropolitan Area of Catania: in red, the city and the hinterland comuni forming the urban belt; in yellow, the province.

The Metropolitan Area of Catania is formed by the Comune of Catania (298,257 inhabitants as of Dec. 2007)[2] and by 26 surrounding comuni[27] forming an urban belt (453,938 inhabitants as of Dec. 2007).[2] The total population of the Metropolitan Area of Catania is therefore 752,895.[2] The comuni forming the Metropolitan Area are:

  1. Aci Bonaccorsi
  2. Aci Castello
  3. Aci Catena
  4. Aci Sant'Antonio
  5. Acireale
  6. Belpasso
  7. Camporotondo Etneo
  8. Catania
  9. Gravina di Catania
  10. Mascalucia
  11. Misterbianco
  12. Motta Sant'Anastasia
  13. Nicolosi
  14. Paternò
  15. Pedara
  16. Ragalna
  17. San Giovanni la Punta
  18. San Gregorio di Catania
  19. San Pietro Clarenza
  20. Sant'Agata li Battiati
  21. Santa Maria di Licodia
  22. Santa Venerina
  23. Trecastagni
  24. Tremestieri Etneo
  25. Valverde
  26. Viagrande
  27. Zafferana Etnea

These comuni form a system with the centre of Catania sharing its economical and social life and forming an organic urban texture.

The Metropolitan Area of Catania has not to be confounded with the Province of Catania, a far broader area that counts 58 comuni and 1,081,915 inhabitants,[2] but which does not form an urban system with the city.


As of December 2007, there are 298,597 people residing in Catania,[2] of whom 47.2% are male and 52.8% are female. Minors (children age 18 and younger) totalled 20.50 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 18.87 percent. This compares with the Italian average of 18.06 percent (minors) and 19.94 percent (pensioners).

The average age of Catania residents is 41 compared to the Italian average of 42. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the population of Catania declined by 3.35 percent, while Italy as a whole grew by 3.85 percent.[2] The reason of this population decline in the Comune di Catania is mainly to be attributed to population leaving the city centre to go to live in the up-town residential areas of the comuni of the Metropolitan Area. As a result of this, while the population in the comune di Catania declines, the population of the hinterland comuni increases making the overall population of the Metropolitan area of Catania increase.[2]

The current birth rate of Catania is 10.07 births per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 9.45 births. As of 2006, 98.03% of the population was Italian. The largest immigrant group came from sub-saharan Africa: 0.69%, South Asia: 0.46%, and from other European countries (particularly from Ukraine and Poland): 0.33%. Catania is almost entirely Roman Catholic.


The symbol of the city is u Liotru, or the Fontana dell'Elefante, and was assembled in 1736 by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. It is made of marble portraying an ancient lavic elephant and surmounted by an Egyptian obelisk from Syene. Tall tale has it that Vaccarini's original elephant was neuter, which the men of Catania took as an insult to their virility. To appease them, Vaccarini appended appropriately elephantine testicles to the original statue.

The Sicilian name u Liotru is the deformation of the name Heliodorus who was a sorcerer and necromancer from Catania. He was a nobleman who, after trying without success to become bishop of the city, became a sorcerer and was therefore condemned to the stake. Legend has it that Heliodorus himself was the sculptor of the lava elephant and that he used to magically rode it in his travels from Catania to Constantinople.[28] Another legend has it that Heliodorus could be capable of transforming himself into an elephant.

A similar sculpture is in Piazza Santa Maria della Minerva in Rome.

Catania's coat of arms is a red elephant on a light-blue field with an "A" (Agatha's initial or the first letter of Aetna) set higher above its back. Below the shield there is a bright red ribbon whose central part shows four inwrought golden initials.The sequence S.P.Q.C. hides the Latin expression "Senatus Popolus Quae Catanensis", the "Senate of the People of Catania" .

Elephant's tutelage

The folk presence of an elephant in the millenary history of Catania is mainly connected to both zooarcheology and popular creeds.

In the Upper Paleolithic, in fact, the prehistoric fauna of Sicily enumerated a host of dwarf elephants.[29]

The Catanian Museum of Mineralogy, Paleonthology and Vulcanology takes care of the integral unburied skeleton of an elephas falconeri in an excellent state of conservation. The primitive inhabiters of Etna and whilom forefathers of the latter-day Catanians, molded such lavic artifact to idolize the mythical proboscidian they had considered the sole responsible of the resolutive ejection of all the vexing animals from the volcanic territories.

This venerated black sculpture survived the centuries to outlast till today. It is doubtless the most ancient Catania's monument, followed by the Syenian obelisk positioned on its spine.

In the official heraldry its scarfskin became red to recollect the colour of the ardent lava. But the most-told occurrence that will be fundamental to radicate this kind of affection for the beloved Liotru is on the other hand strictly due to the local and documented legend of the "magician" Heliodorus.

Civic mottoes

The two most recurrent Latin mottoes of Catania are readable on the marble tags set on the baroque prospect of the monumental Triumphal Arch of Piazza Palestro whose name is "Porta Garibaldi" (Garibaldi Gate) but also "Porta Ferdinandea" (Ferdinandean Gate).

They still recite:"Melior De Cinere Surgo" (I Arise Better From My Ashes) and "Armis Decoratur, Litteris Armatur" (Adorned with Weapons, Armed with Letters).

The first underlines the interchange down the ages between its unforeseen destructions and the gradual and successive reconstructions, comparing such cyclicities of sudden ruinations and consequent rebirths to the legend of the mythical Phoenix, the fiery creature perennially fated to upspring anew from its own embers. This firebird is, in fact, sculpted atop the archway of the forenamed structure.

The second simply wants to emphasize the role of cultural and University hub for the whole Sicily from Middle Ages till modern times.

Several "stylized armaments" were largely reproduced and utilized as ornaments or architectural elements to bedight the fronts of the main noblemen's mansions.

Main sights


The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi nigh the Immaculate backs the Cavea of Catania's Greek-Roman Theatre.
Catanian Roman Amphitheatre in Stesichorus Square.
Roman Thermal Baths of St.Mary of Guidance

The city has been buried by lava a total of seven times in recorded history, and in layers under the present day city are the Roman city that preceded it, and the Greek city before that. Many of the ancient monuments of the Roman city have been destroyed by the numerous seisms. Currently, remains of the following buildings can be seen:

The remains of the monumental complex are beneath Piazza Duomo. Its underground bounds underlie almost all the buildings established on the surface: the Cathedral Church, the former seat of the Clerics' Seminary, the Elephant's Fountain, the Archbishop's See and the bordering angles of the Senatorial Palace.They are also the place where the earthly life of the sorcerer Heliodorus was surceased by St.Leo of Catania.[30][31]

The "Thaumaturgus" drew this devil's mate in its inside to jump with him into a pyre that he had ordered to prepare. Both were clutched by the flames.

But while the godless fiend began burning to ashes at once, the Wonder Worker's figure came out slowly and miraculously unharmed, with his Sacred Paraments intact and undamaged. This fact should have happened in 778 AD while Saint Leo's death will befall exactly nine years later in 787 AD.

The thermae's access is made easier by a little adit opening on the right side of Saint Agatha's front. Through the use of a modern stairs, the visitors can pass across a 2.5 m (8 ft 2.43 in) barrel-vaulted corridor. This passageway guides in its innermost part, a rectangular ample area measuring 12 m × 13 m (39.37 ft × 42.65 ft), formed by a wide hall with four pillars bearing the overhead ceiling .In past times these old columns were bedecked with stuccoes representing handful of younkers and bacchantes, animals and clusters of grapes. The most part of these beautiful decorations have been irremediably lost along the centuries.

This has induced the local archaeologists to identify the surrounding zone with the Balnea Bacchi ("Roman Bacchic Baths"). Several rooms are actually situated northward, rightward and southward the aforesaid atrium.

The adjective "Achillean" is attested by a Greek inscription, recovered in pieces in different epochs. It furnishes the current denomination and it describes the complessive remaking works and the contemporary repairing of the heating's distribution system. According to the appointments of the whilom consuls in charge the refurbishment is datable to the period around 434 AD.However, the exact datation of the real edification is still unknown. They were supplied by the nearby waters of the Amenanus which keeps running in the thereabouts.

With regard to the name, many scholars uphold that its main entrance contained a marble reproduction of Achilles towering above the regular patrons. But probably, the most correct explication is motivated instead for the presence along the inward perimeter of lance-armed statues of muscled nude men that were apostrophed as the Achilleae Statuae.Pliny the Elder has cited this sort of sculptures in his Natural History to refer to the idolatry and cultural habits towards the Thessalian Hero.

  • Saint Mary of Guidance's Thermal Baths  • Terme dell'Indirizzo[32]

Immured in a school courtyard, they are located behind the Church of Saint Mary of Guidance whose entitlement is commonly adopted for their easier and generic identification.

  • Saint Mary of Itria's Thermal Baths  • Terme dell'Itria
  • Saint Mary of the Rotunda's Thermal Baths  • Terme della Rotonda [33]

Located to the north of the Greek-Roman theatre, the present-day edifice of the Rotunda is hemmed in by the structures of a little Byzantine church whose entrance climbed up toward the Hillock of Montevergine, erstwhile Chalcidean acropolis of Catania.The existence of a bare and orbicular roof explains its appellative.In 1950 the Catanian archeologist Guido Libertini supervised different diggings in its inside and outside, permitting to identify a Roman-Hellenistic period of construction, a late Imperial upkeep and the sixth-century Christianization.This place of worship, dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, was subject to several adjustments in 1800s.The primeval building bosoms a circular hall inscribed in an octagonal area, articulated with a series of arches and marble tubs ending with the typical hemispheric ceiling that passers-by can easily ascertain from the outer alleyway.The conversion to Christian use is evident through the remnants of the flooring that superimposed over the tubs, in a font in the apse of the high altar and in the two rectangular chapels inset in the angular tubs.On the internal walls are still recognizable many traces of paintings that probably portray Saint Gregory Thaumaturgus and in the southern side chapel a nimbus-clad, mantled Madonna holding the Holy Child .

  • The Four Quoin's Thermæ  • Terme dei Quattro Canti
Catania: Etnean Street and one of the Four Quoins  • Via Etnea - Quattro Canti

They lie under the street mantle of Via Etnea - the main thoroughfare of the city - in the point of intersection with the uphill Via Antonino Paternò Castello di Sangiuliano. This viary conjunction creates a scenographical and monumental quadrangle that gave rise to the name assigned to this crossroads. The exact center of convergence of these two arteries is the cradle of the city's baroque reëdification carried out by the Noble Superintendent Giuseppe Lanza, Duke of Camastra.In 1694 he was appointed by the Viceroy Juan Francisco Pacheco de Uceda,representing the Spanish Government, to accomplish the urban uprise after the apocalyptic earthquake of 1693.

The aristocratic Palace of the family Massa di San Demetrio was the first construction of Catania to be rebuilt from the smoking rubbles. Thenceforth, the four prospects designing this rhomboidal square are always the same:the aforecited abode, other two baroque dwellings and the sideward flank of a religious cloister.

  • Palazzo Asmundo's Thermæ  • Terme di Palazzo Asmundo
  • University's Thermæ  • Terme del Palazzo dell'Università
  • Casa Gagliano's Thermæ  • Terme di Casa Gagliano
  • Saint Anthony Abbot's Thermæ  • Terme della Chiesa di Sant'Antonio Abate

Baroque and historical churches

The baroque city centre of Catania is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Basilica di San Nicola l'Arena • (Basilica of St.Nicholas the Arena).
San Placido • (St.Placid's).
Badìa di Sant'Agata  • (St. Agatha's Abbey).
San Francesco d'Assisi all'Immacolata  • (St. Francis of Assisi nigh The Immaculate)
Sant'Agata alla Fornace or San Biagio  • (St. Agatha by the Furnace or St. Blaise)
Santa Maria dell'Aiuto  • (Marian Sanctuary of St. Mary of Help)
San Benedetto da Norcia  • (St. Benedict of Nursia)
San Francesco Borgia  • (St. Francis Borgia)
  • Saint Agatha's Cathedral  • Duomo di Sant'Agata (1070–1093)
  • Saint Agatha's Abbey  • Badìa di Sant'Agata (1620)
  • Saint Placid  • Chiesa di San Placido (1769)
  • Saint Joseph by the Dome  • Chiesa di San Giuseppe al Duomo
  • Most Holy Sacrament by the Dome  • Chiesa del Santissimo Sacramento al Duomo
  • Saint Martin of the White Garbs  • Chiesa di San Martino dei Bianchi
  • Saint Agatha the Eldest  • Chiesa di Sant'Agata la Vetere (254)
  • Saint Agatha by the Furnace or Saint Blaise  • Chiesa di Sant'Agata alla Fornace or San Biagio (1098, rebuilt in 1700)
  • Saint Prison's Church or Saint Agatha in Jail  • Chiesa del Santo Carcere or Sant'Agata al Carcere (1760).

This temple phagocytates the ancient jail where Saint Agatha was imprisoned during her martyrdom.

It still houses the mortal remains of Queen Eleanor of Sicily, the Sovereign who decided and promoted the construction of the principal Franciscan building of Catania on the same place of the once Roman Temple of Minerva.

The Basilica Collegiata di Santa Maria dell'Elemosina is on the Latin cross plan with a nave and two aisles. The high altar has a Madonna icon, probably of Byzantine manufacture.

  • Saint Mary of Ogninella  • Chiesa di Santa Maria dell'Ogninella
  • Saint Michael the Lesser  • Chiesa di San Michele Minore
  • Saint Michael Archangel or Minorites' Church • San Michele Archangelo or Chiesa dei Minoriti
  • Saint Julian  • Chiesa di San Giuliano
  • Saint Julian's Monastery  • Monastero di San Giuliano
  • Saint Teresa  • Chiesa di Santa Teresa
  • Saint Francis Borgia or Jesuits' Church  • San Francesco Borgia or Chiesa dei Gesuiti
  • Convent of the Jesuits  • Convento dei Gesuiti
  • Saint Mary of Jesus  • Chiesa di Santa Maria di Gesù (1465, restored in 1706)
  • Saint Dominic or Saint Mary the Great  • Chiesa di San Domenico or Santa Maria la Grande (1224)
  • Dominicans Friary  • Monastero dei Domenicani (1224)
  • Saint Mary of Purity or Saint Mary of Visitation  • Chiesa di Santa Maria della Purità or Chiesa della Visitazione (1775)
  • Madonna of Graces' Chapel  • Cappella della Madonna delle Grazie
  • Saint Ursula
  • Saint Agatha on the Lavic Runnels  • Chiesa di Sant'Agata alle Sciare
  • Saint Euplius Old Church Ruins  • Ruderi della Vecchia Chiesa di Sant'Euplio
  • Saint Cajetan by the Grottoes  • Chiesa di San Gaetano alle Grotte (260)
  • Basilica of the Most Holy Annunciated Mary of Carmel  • Basilica di Maria Santissima Annunziata al Carmine (1729)
  • Saint Agatha by the Borough  • Chiesa di Sant'Agata al Borgo. (1669, destroyed in 1693 and rebuilt in 1709). The "Borough" (il Borgo) is an inner district of Catania.
  • Saint Nicholas by the Borough  • Chiesa di San Nicola al Borgo
  • Most Holy Sacrament by the Borough  • Chiesa del Santissimo Sacramento al Borgo
  • Saint Mary of Providence by the Borough  • Chiesa di Santa Maria della Provvidenza al Borgo
  • Chapel of the Blind's Hospice  • Cappella dell'Ospizio dei Ciechi
  • Saint Camillus of the Crucifers  • Chiesa di San Camillo dei Crociferi
  • Catanian Benedictine Monastery of Saint Nicholas the Arena  • Monastero Benedettino di San Nicola l'Arena (1558)
  • Basilica of Saint Nicholas the Arena  • Chiesa di San Nicola l'Arena (1687)
  • Saint Mary of Guidance  • Chiesa di Santa Maria dell'Indirizzo (1730)
  • Saint Clare • Chiesa di Santa Chiara (1563)
  • Convent of the Poor Clares  • Monastero delle Clarisse (1563)
  • Saint Sebastian Martyr  • Chiesa di San Sebastiano Martire (1313)
  • Saint Anne  • Chiesa di Sant'Anna
  • Marian Sanctuary of Saint Mary of Help  • Santuario di Santa Maria dell'Aiuto
  • Madonna of Loreto  • Chiesa della Madonna di Loreto
  • Church of Saint Joseph at Transit  • Chiesa di San Giuseppe al Transito
  • Immaculate Conception of Little Minorites  • Chiesa dell'Immacolata Concezione dei Minoritelli
  • Saint Agatha by Little Virgins' Boarding Convent  • Chiesa di Sant'Agata al Conservatorio delle Verginelle
  • Our Lady of Itria or Saint Mary Hodigitria  • (Chiesa di Santa Maria dell'Itria or Odigitria). Hodigitria is a Greek word meaning "She who shows the Way". The Holy Virgin Hodigitria is the Patroness of Sicily[34]. Itria is a simple diminutive widely utilized in numberless Sicilian churches throughout the island.
  • Saint Philip Neri (Chiesa di San Filippo Neri)
  • Saint Martha  • Chiesa di Santa Marta
  • Holy Child  • Chiesa del Santo Bambino
  • Our Lady of Providence  • Chiesa di Santa Maria della Provvidenza
  • Saint Beryllus (or Birillus) inside Saint Mary of the Sick  • Chiesa di San Berillo in Santa Maria degli Ammalati
  • Our Lady of the Poor  • Chiesa della Madonna dei Poveri
  • Saint Vincent de Paul  • Chiesa di S.Vincenzo de'Paoli
  • Saint John the Baptist  • Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista in the suburb of San Giovanni di Galermo
  • Saint Anthony Abbot  • Chiesa di Sant'Antonio Abate
  • Little Saviour's Byzantine Chapel  • Cappella Bizantina del Salvatorello
  • Saint Augustine  •Chiesa di Sant'Agostino
  • Church of the Most Holy Trinity  • Chiesa della Santissima Trinità
  • Church of the Little Virgins  • Chiesa delle Verginelle
  • Our Lady of the Rotunda  • Chiesa di Santa Maria della Rotonda
  • Church of the Most Holy Retrieved Sacrament  • Chiesa del Santissimo Sacramento Ritrovato (1796).[35]

This church was constructed on the Lavas of "Armisi", a shelfy locale on the seaward coast of Catania where a Sacred Monstrance with its Holy Hosts were repossessed after a sacrilegious theft occurred in 1796.

On May 29, a pair of scoundrels entered undisturbed inside the Jesuitic Church of Saint Francis Borgia to seize without apparent hindrance the precious Ostensory. In that period the Dome of Saint Agatha was closed for repairs, so this parish was considered the most apt to assume the cathedral's functions. The two rascals were rapidly singled out and caught, but the broadmindedness of their misdeed produced a profound upset and a palpable indignation that pervaded both the civilian and religious society of the city.

The meticulous researches involved the whole citizenship that contributed with extreme participation and great affliction. Some well-grounded evidences would have led to most precise traces near a lavic expanse looking on to the sea not far from the purlieu of the current central railway station.

And moreover, the presence and the yelps of a little black mongrel, nestled by a prickly pear close to a scabrous hollow where the Holy Pyx was hidden, permitted its exact identification. Amazingly, however, the meek animal had not half a mind to stand aside from the filthy rag that wrapped the Casket.Rather than go away it kept lying down steadily for a long time. It was as though it wanted to protect and care for the mysterious and not edible result of its flair.

A few people started throwing stones toward it but this solution was completely ineffectual and incapable sending it away from its temporary dog's bed. The tries of persuasion of those present will last quite a while.

Because of such disconcerting stubbornness, the then religious authorities decided unanimously to lay the foundation stone of the new Temple of the Most Holy Retrieved Sacrament over a "forlorn and unsuited area abounding in magmatic scales".

The district, where the episode took place, will be commonly known as the Quarter of "Our Refound Lord" ("Nostru Signuri Asciatu" in local dialect and "Nostro Signore Ritrovato" in Italian).

  • Sanctuary of Our Lady of Ognina  • Santuario di Santa Maria in Ognina (1308).[36]

Ognina is the maritime quarter and the main fishing pole of Catania. Many bareboats and umpteen smacks gather and crowd here all year round.

During summertime this craggy inlet becomes a sort of vacationland for many Catanians, both denizens and provincials. The little Church of Saint Mary of Ognina, with its essential façade, rises in a square that sweetly slopes against the sea.

In its close vicinities there is the cylindric merloned Saint Mary's Tower (Torre Santa Maria)[37] which was restructured in the XVI century to prevent the frequent plunders of the Saracen pirates.

The parishional origin is the result of the gradual modification of the once Greek Temple of Athena Longatis or Parthenos Longatis that stood anciently on the steep reef. This cult was imported from a Boeotian region of Greece called Longas[38] from where the first Hellenic settlers of this borough probably came.

Saint Mary of Lognina was already entitled this way in a few Vatican documents going back to 1308.Lognina is the dialectial version of Ognina that in Italian language has lost the initial "L" of the name.

In 1676 it was visited by the Sicilian historian Giovanni Andrea Massa who remained extremely impressed at the beauty of the building. After the earthquake of 1693 it was sobriously rebuilt on the same place but with a different orientation.

The Virgin Mary's Simulacre, venerated since 1600, was destroyed by a fire in 1885.For a period her image was exposed to the believers in the waxen features of a She-Child, the Madonna Bambina (the Child Madonna).Today's wooden statue was carved in 1889.

The Child Madonna is the Patroness of the Fishermen of Ognina where every year on September 8 a Processional Feast[39] betides on the sea involving lots of Catanians coming even from abroad.

Along Ognina's coastline are visible the spectacular natural Grottos of Ulysses (le Grotte d'Ulisse).

Ulysses and his companions landed in these precincts during the Sicilian scenes of the Odyssey when they will encounter and encave inside Polyphemus' cavern.

Immediately after the blinding of the cyclops, the King of Ithaca and the survived few will flee from his fury reaching the nearby roadstead of Ognina.

Owing to this reason the charming seaway of the Gulf of Ognina (Golfo di Ognina) or "Porticciolo di Ognina" is still identified with the dual names of "Porto Ulisse" ( Port Ulysses ) or "Baia d'Ulisse" ( Ulysses' Bay ).

This church was entitled this way, since prior to its construction in that very place there was a little devotional altar with a hand painted icon of the Crucifix. The anonymous pious author depictured the tablet obtaining a coloured substance from the leaves of the marjoram.

  • Crucifix of Miracles  • Chiesa del Crocifisso dei Miracoli
  • Crucifix of Good Death  •Chiesa del Crocifisso della Buona Morte
  • Our Lady of La Mecca  •Chiesa di Santa Maria della Mecca.

La Mecca is not the Saudiarabian Holy City, but a vernacular Catanian word that identifies a "silk mill" that existed, in effect, in its vicinity.

The ancient presence of a palm (nowadays disappeared) in the nearby forechurch justifies its second name.

Touristic Urban Spots

Catania:Stesichorus Square and Bellini's Monument (Piazza Stesicoro - Monumento a Vincenzo Bellini)
Squares, roads, lanes, parkways
  • Piazza del Duomo  • Cathedral's Square
  • Via Etnea  • Etnean Street
  • Piazza Università  • University Square
  • Quattro Canti  • Four Quoins
  • Piazza Stesicoro • Stesichorus Square
  • Via Vittorio Emanuele II
  • Via Giuseppe Garibaldi
  • Via Crociferi  • Crucifers Street
  • Via Caronda
  • Viale Regina Margherita
  • Lungomare di Ognina  • Ognina's Lavic Promenade
  • Piazza Europa  • Europe Square
Parks & Gardens

The Vincenzo Bellini's Gardens, more commonly known as Villa Bellini, are the "Main Park" of the city.

Street Markets & Fairs
  • La Pescherìa (in dialect 'A Piscarìa)  • Catania's historical Fish Market
  • La Fiera di Catania or 'A Fera o' Luni (whose meaning in English is "the Monday's Fair" ).

The name "Fera o' Luni", in Italian "La Fiera del Lunedì", was due to its hebdomadal preparation that in ancient times held only once a week, on Mondays. Nowadays it trades throughout the week instead.It is situated in the surroundings of Piazza Stesicoro, in Piazza Carlo Alberto, popularly famed as Piazza del Carmine because of the presence of an historical Carmelite Sanctuary.

Local Views
  • Golfo di Ognina or Porto Ulisse  • Gulf of Ognina or Port Ulysses
  • Porticciolo di San Giovanni Li Cuti  • Little Haven of Saint John the Hones
  • Oasi Naturale del Simeto  • Natural Oasis of the River Symaethus
  • Litorale della Playa  • Golden shores of La Playa
Buildings, mansions, palaces
Catania - Castello Ursino
  • The Ursino Castle (il Castello Ursino), built by emperor Frederick II in the 13th century.
  • Uzeda Gate  • la Porta Uzeda
  • The Medieval Gothic-Catalan Arch of Saint John of Friars in Via Cestai  • l'Arco Gotico-catalano di San Giovanni de' Freri in Via Cestai
  • Ferdinandean Gate or Garibaldi Gate (la Porta Ferdinandea or Porta Garibaldi), a triumphal arch erected in 1768 to celebrate the marriage of Ferdinand I of Two Sicilies and Marie Caroline of Austria
  • Redoubt's Gate  • la Porta del Fortino
  • The House of the War-Mutilated built in fascist-style architecture (la Casa del Mutilato)
  • Catania War Cemetery, a Commonwealth Graveyard located in the southern country hamlet of Bicocca[41][42]

Administrative Division

Municipalities of Catania

The city of Catania is divided in ten administrative areas called Municipalità (Municipalities).[43] The current administrative set-up was established in 1995, modifying previous set-ups dating back to 1971 and 1978.

The ten Municipalities of Catania are:

  • I. Centro
  • II. Ognina-Picanello
  • III. Borgo-Sanzio
  • IV. Barriera-Canalicchio
  • V. San Giovanni Galermo
  • VI. Trappeto-Cibali
  • VII. Monte Po-Nesima
  • VIII. San Leone-Rapisardi
  • IX. San Giorgio-Librino
  • X. San Giuseppe La Rena-Zia Lisa


Historical building of the University, in the city centre. Nowadays the different faculties are hosted in different buildings around town.

The University of Catania dates back to 1434 and it is the oldest university in Sicily.[44] Its academic nicknames are: Siculorum Gymnasium and Siciliae Studium Generale. Nowadays it hosts 12 faculties and over 62,000 students,[45] and it offers undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

Catania hosts the Scuola Superiore, an academic institution linked to the University of Catania, aimed at the excellence in education.[46] The Scuola Superiore di Catania offers undergraduate and postgraduate programs too.

Apart from the University and the Scuola Superiore Catania is base of the prestigious Istituto Musicale Vincenzo Bellini[47] an advanced institute of musical studies (Conservatory) and the Accademia di Belle Arti an advanced institute of artistic studies.[48] Both institutions offer programs of university level for musical and artistic education.


Vincenzo Bellini
Giovanni Verga

The opera composer Vincenzo Bellini was born in Catania, and a museum exists at his birthplace. The Teatro Massimo "Vincenzo Bellini", which opened in 1890, is named after the composer. The opera house presents a variety of operas through a season, which run from December to May, many of which are the work of Bellini.

Giovanni Verga was born in Catania in 1840.[49] He became the greatest writer of Verismo, an Italian literary movement akin to Naturalism.[50] His novels portray life among the lower levels of Sicilan society, such as fishermen and stone-masons, and were written in a mixture of both literary language and local dialect.[49]

The city is base of the newspaper La Sicilia and of the TV-channel Antenna Sicilia also known as Sicilia Channel. Several others local television channels and free-press magazines have their headquarters in Catania. Noted Italian Tv host Pippo Baudo is from Catania.

In the late 1980s and during the 1990s Catania had a sparkling and unique popular music scene. Indie pop and indie rock bands, local radio station and dynamic independent music record labels sprung. As a result, in those years the city experienced a vital and effervescent cultural period. Artists like Carmen Consoli and Mario Venuti and international known indie rock bands like Uzeda came out of this cultural milieu.

The city is the home of Amatori Catania rugby union team, Calcio Catania football team and Orizzonte Catania, the latter being a brilliant women's water polo club, winning eight European Champions Cup titles from 1994 to 2008. Noted Italian basketball coach Ettore Messina is a native of Catania. The city also hosted the first ever qualification tournament for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 1992, and the associated Etna Cup, which was won by the host Sicily team.

The city's patron saint is Saint Agatha, who is celebrated with a religious pageantry on 5 February every year.


Catania Fontanarossa International Airport.
Ferrovia Circumetnea.

Catania has a commercial seaport (Catania seaport), an international airport (Catania Fontanarossa), a central train station (Catania Centrale) and it is a main node of the Sicilian motorway system.

The motorways serving Catania are the A18 Messina-Catania and the A19 Palermo-Catania; extensions of the A18 going from Catania to Syracuse and to Gela are currently under construction.

The Circumetnea is a small-gauge railway which runs for 110 km from Catania round the base of Mount Etna. It attains the height of 976 m (3,202.10 ft) above sea level before descending to rejoin the coast at Giarre-Riposto to the North.

In the late 1990s the first line of an underground railway (Metropolitana di Catania) was built. The underground service started in 1999 and it is currently active on a route of 3.8 km, from the station Borgo (North of town) to the seaport, passing through the stations of Giuffrida, Italia, Galatea, and Central Station.[51] First line is planned to extend from the satellite city of Paternò to Fontanarossa Airport. Segments Borgo-Nesima (extending the underground railway from the station Borgo to the suburban area of Nesima) and Galatea-Stesicoro (extending the underground railway from the station Galatea to Piazza Stesicoro, in the heart of town) are currently under construction.[51]

Twin towns - sister cities

Catania is twinned with:


  1. ^ Roman writers fluctuate between the two forms Catana and Catina, of which the latter is, perhaps, the most common, and is supported by inscriptions (Orell. 3708, 3778); but the analogy of the Greek Κατάνη, and the modern Catania, would point to the former as the more correct.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Official ISTAT figures [1]
  3. ^ The meaning of the name Catania
  4. ^ Holm Adolf (1925), Catania Antica, G. Libertini
  5. ^ Amari Michele, Edrisi, Il Libro di Re Ruggero, Vol. I p.71
  6. ^ a b Various authors (1987), Enciclopedia di Catania, Tringale
  7. ^ Correnti Santi (1981), La Città Semprerifiorente, Catania, Greco
  8. ^ Correnti Santi & Spartà Santino (2007), Le Strade di Catania, Rome, Newton Compton
  9. ^ Giuffrida Tino, Catania dalle origini alla dominazione normanna, Catania, Bonaccorso. Excerpt here (Italian) [2]
  10. ^ Thuc. vi. 3; Strabo vi. p. 268; [[Scymnus|]] 286; Scylax § 13; Stephanus of Byzantium s. v.
  11. ^ Aristotle, Pol. ii. 9.
  12. ^ Diodorus xi. 49, in 66; Strabo l.c.; Pind. Pyth. i., and Schol. ad loc.
  13. ^ Diod. xi. 76; Strabo l. c.)
  14. ^ Thuc. vi. 50-52, 63, 71, 89; Diod. xiii. 4, 6, 7; Plut. Nic. 15, 16.
  15. ^ Diod. xiv. 15, 58, 60.
  16. ^ Diod. xvi. 69; Plut. Timol. 13, 30-34.
  17. ^ Diod. xix. 110, xxii. 8, Exc. Hoesch. p. 496.
  18. ^ Eutrop. ii. 19.
  19. ^ Cicero In Verrem iii. 4. 3, 83, iv. 23, 45; Livy xxvii. 8.
  20. ^ Strabo vi. pp. 268, 270, 272; Dion Cassius iv. 7.
  21. ^ Pliny iii. 8. s. 14; Ptol. iii. 4. § 9; Itin. Ant. pp. 87,90, 93, 94.
  22. ^ Diog. Laert. ix. 2. § 1.
  23. ^ Varro ap. Plin. vii. 60..
  24. ^ Strabo vi. p. 269; Pausanias x. 28. § 4; Conon, Narr. 43; Philostr. Vit. Apoll. v. 17; Gaius Julius Solinus 5. § 15; Gaius Julius Hyginus 254; Valerius Maximus v. 4. Ext. § 4; Lucil. Aetn. 602-40; Claudian. Idyll. 7; Silius Italicus xiv. 196; Auson. Ordo Nob. Urb. 11.
  25. ^ Correnti Santi (1994), Breve Storia della Sicilia, Rome, Newton Compton, pp. 22-49
  26. ^ "Climatological Normals of Catania". 2003-05-04. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  27. ^ The Metropolitan Area of Catania defined by ANCI Sicilia (National Association of Comuni Italiani) [3]
  28. ^ Amari Michele (1933), Storia dei Musulmani di Sicilia, Catania, Nallino, Vol. I pp. 344-345
  29. ^ Paleontologist Othenio Abel suggested that the presence of dwarf elephants in Sicily may be the origin of the legend of the Cyclops. Ancient Greeks, in fact, finding the skulls of dwarf elephants, about twice the size of a human skull, with a large central nasal cavity (mistaken for a large single eye-socket) supposed that they were skulls of giants with a single eye.
  30. ^ Saint Leo of Catania
  31. ^ Saint Leo, Bishop of Catania
  32. ^ "rotonda". Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  33. ^ "rotonda". Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  34. ^ Archiconfraternity of Saint Mary Hodigitria of the Sicilians in Rome (Italian) [4]
  35. ^ "Santissimo Sacramento Ritrovato - Home". 2009-03-16. Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  36. ^ Santa Maria di Lognina (Italian)[5]
  37. ^ Saint Mary's Tower of Ognina (Italian)[6]
  38. ^ Athena Longatis
  39. ^ The Feast of Santa Maria in Ognina (Italian)[7]
  40. ^ "Home Page Parrocchia N.S. di Monserrato". Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  41. ^ Commonwealth War Graves Commission - Catania War Cemetery [8]
  42. ^ Veterans Affairs Canada - Anciens Combattants Canada - Catania War Cemetery [9]
  43. ^ Administrative division of Catania, from Comune di Catania Official Website [10]
  44. ^ History of the University of Catania by Unict main site (Italian)[11] and (English) (translation) [12]
  45. ^ History of the University of Catania, by Professor Giuseppe Giarrizzo, from (Italian)[13] and (English) (translation)[14]
  46. ^ Scuola Superiore di Catania - Official site
  47. ^ Istituto Musicale "Vincenzo Bellini" - Official site
  48. ^ Accademia di Belle Arti di Catania - Official site(Italian)[15]
  49. ^ a b Drabble, Margaret (1985), The Oxford Companion to English Literature: Verga, Giovanni (5th ed.), London: Guild Publishing, p. 1026 
  50. ^ Drabble, Margaret (1985), The Oxford Companion to English Literature: Verismo (5th ed.), London: Guild Publishing, p. 1026 
  51. ^ a b Underground railway of Catania from [16] and from in (Italian)[17] and (English)(translation)[18]
  52. ^ Jérôme Steffenino, Marguerite Masson. "Ville de Grenoble - Coopérations et villes jumelles". Retrieved 2009-10-29. 


  • Amico, Vito Maria (1740). Catana Illustrata. 
  • Correnti, Santi (1981). La Città Semprerifiorente. Catania: Greco. 
  • Correnti, Santi (2001). Cataniamia. Catania: Greco. 
  • Correnti, Santi; Santino Spartà (2007). Le strade di Catania, Rome. Newton & Compton. 
  • Various. Enciclopedia di Catania. Tringale. 

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : Italy : Sicily : Catania

Catania is a city located on the eastern coast of Sicily at the foot of Mount Etna, the biggest volcano in Europe.

old theater
old theater

It is the second largest city in Sicily with the metropolitan area reaching one million inhabitants, a major transport hub, economic centre and a university city where you will enjoy a busy downtown and an active nightlife.

Catania is also well known for its particular baroque architecture and urban design (the downtown area is a World Heritage Site, along with all the Val di Noto), consequences of the great earthquake of 1693 after which the city had to be rebuild, like most of eastern Sicily.

Get in

By plane

Catania, along with Palermo, has a major airport with scheduled and charter planes arriving from destinations throughout Italy and Europe.

From the airport, there are 1/2 hourly buses to Catania's bus station. It takes about 20 minutes.

By bus

Frequent buses run to Taormina, Messina, Enna, Caltanissetta, Ragusa and Syracuse. Less frequent buses run to local destinations, Naples, Rome etc. The main bus station is opposite the railway station and 10 minutes walk from the city centre.

By train

Frequent trains run up the east coast to and from Taormina (but the station is a long walk below the town, at Giardini Naxos) and Messina, then on to Naples and Rome etc. Trains also run to Enna, Palermo (slower than the buses) and Syracuse. A scenic route runs inland to Caltagirone and Gela. The railway station is 10 minutes walk from the city centre.

Get around


Catania has a compact centre and it is most convenient just to walk around. Travelling by public transport may be quite problematic, (watch out for your wallet too), due to the long waiting times for buses (even more than 1 hour), the city also boasts a very short metro line, which is still under construction. This metro line (metropolitana) runs from the Port (Porto station) to the Circumetnea train station (Borgo station), from where you can reach villages on the slopes of Mount Etna.

The metropolitan area

If you want to get along the coast (Acicastello, Acitrezza, Acireale), you better drive or call for a taxi (they are several at Piazza Duomo). You could also use the train or one of the bus.

To get up Mount Etna, you can take the private train line (Circumetnea) at Borgo metro station or a shuttle from the central station that reaches Rifugio Sapienza(usually leaving in the morning and return the evening) from where you can get to the top of the mountain (spring/summer only, regardless of the summer heat the summit will be cold so do bring a jumper).

Please note that the metro and the train to Mount Etna are closed on Sunday.


The city has a history dating back 2700 years, dominated by several different cultures (Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Spanish, etc.) and was a rich commercial centre, mainly due to its port. Again, since the 70's, the city economy is growing as the urban area and the suburbs, making Catania a large metropolitan centre, mainly between the volcano and the sea. Today, even if you can find there most of the biggest commercial centers in Europe (especially Etnapolis), the old 17th century downtown area is still the center of the day-to-day life.

Catania is situated under the most major currently active volcano in Europe and has been destroyed many times in the past. The result, a city where you can find a great variety of landscape and architecture, a lot of dirty buildings and also lot of abandoned houses, especially in the mountain. Whenever, since the city is a World Heritage Site, lot of renovations are made.

Today, you will feel in Catania a mix of nostalgia and "joie de vivre", especially at night or during festivals.

Sicilian Baroque

The major feature of this city is its architecture, which is predominantly baroque. The major characteristic of Baroque architectural is its theatricality. This style dominated Europe in the 17th century as a result of the reformation/counter-reformation where the statement given was one of grandeur. The preceeding style was Renaissance, while the succeeding was Neo-classicism. The three major features are a near excessive amount of detail (statues, lots of gold, coulumns and pilasters, garlands and wreaths etc), façades which are taller than the nave (to fool the viewer of the size) and frescos often featuring trompe d'eol (Wikipedia on Baroque). Baroque from Catania has several unique features such as use of dark lava stone (basalt), the Bell in the façade itself and grotesque masks and putti (Wikipedia on Sicilian Baroque)


Some of the best feature of Catania's area are

  • The Baroque architecture, mainly downtown virtual tour
  • Every morning,except Sundays, two fascinating markets are held:
- a large fish market in a beautiful setting off Piazza Duomo
- a bustling food and clothes market off Via Etnea
  • Mount Etna, which has reshaped the city several times virtual tour
  • The kiosks which act as social area for the locals by selling refreshments, such as coffee, lemoncello or popular unique drinks such as Selsa al limone or mandarino al limone.
  • The Elephant Fountain, from the 17th century, in Piazza Duomo virtual tour
  • La Plaja, sandy beaches along the south coast of the bay
  • The Riviera dei ciclopi, a rocky, volcano coast along the north of the bay, streaching to Taormina


Sicilian used to be the common language here for centuries, as the Sicilian culture is isolated on an island. Even in Catania, you will notice Italian and Sicilian (as Palermo, Catania has its own dialect) in some neighborhoods, especially in inner areas, while most people speak mainly Italian in the city center.

"U Liotru", the Elephant statue symbol of Catania
"U Liotru", the Elephant statue symbol of Catania
  • The baroque Piazza del Duomo is attractive, lively and contains the Elephant Fountain - the symbol of the city and the entrance to the elegant via Etnea, the main shopping street.
  • The adjacent Norman Cathedral (Duomo) is imposing and worth a visit
  • The food and fish markets just below the Piazza del Duomo are a lively and colourful place to visit. This fish market is the busiest and most exotic of all over Sicily and has been describes by the British TV chef Rick Stein as the best fish market in the world. Monday to Saturday morning only.
  • Via Etnea - the main shopping avenue, running North from the Piazza del Duomo has most of the city's imposing building and is busy throughout the day and evening. Lots of church. This road is the equivalent of Las Ramblas in Barcellona, so in the evenings the local people put on their sunday clothes and walk at a relaxed pace along this avenue.
  • Piazza Stesicoro, the original centre containing ruins of the Roman Amphitheatre. Its also the entrance to the main market (Mercato de la Fiera) which is worth a visit. Additionally it is one of the main bus hubs.
  • Teatro Massimo, an 19th century opera house in Piazza Teatro, which is the main meeting are for the local young people so its neighbourhood is very lively and busy by night.
  • Taormina, a world famous city being both beautiful and the quintessential medieval town on a mountain top.
  • Castello Ursino, a great medieval construction near center that host the Civic Museum.virtual tour
  • The Greek/Roman Theatre and the Odeon, still in good condition.virtual tour
  • Palazzo Biscari, the most beautiful baroque palace of Catania (can't visit).
  • The Villa, a great urban park of the 19e century (currently closed for renovation)
  • The Benedictine monastery that host now the Faculty of Litterature of the University of Catania, the oldest in Sicily. That building used to be one of the biggest monastery of Europe. virtual tour
  • The adjacent unachieved church of San Nicolo, which was supposed the be the biggest in Sicily.


Volcano Trek, Via Minicucca 16, +39 333 2096604, [1]. The obvious thing to do is the volcano trek. Go to the top of Mount Etna. There are many organised tours, but you can hire the services of a Volcanologist as your tour guide and go off the usual tourist trail.

Visit a minor religious festival, but avoid Sant'Agata on the 5th February due to the excessive crowds.


The "Pizzo free" shops are a group of shopkeepers that refuse to pay the racket to the Mafia. The Catania's consumers sustain them by going shopping in their stores. The list of these stores will be soon available. [2]

You can find fresh fish at the main fish market, Piazza Duomo. You could have to bargain the price.


Catania is proud of some specialities, like Arancino (fried ball of rice, tomato and cheese), cannoli alla ricotta (known worldwide) and many typical tavola calda. The fish is also good, as Catania is a large port. The city is also known for horse meat, especially in some areas around the "Benedictine Monastery".

Fast food

Like in most of Sicily, you can get a freshly made cold panini in a “salumeria”, where you choose whenever you want to put in (prosciutto cotto/crudo and cheese is probably the most popular), for 1 to 3 euros. Don’t forget that most of them are closed between 1-4 PM and on Sunday afternoon. You can also have a tavola calda which mean “hot bite”, most of them made with cheese and meat, fried and baked. You will normally pay 1,50 euros for one piece. Finally, you will find, especially during the evening, big kiosks that sell hot, tasty and fat panini with even horse meat inside. Most people add fries into the sandwich. Usually, it’s about 2,50-3,00 euros and they are very popular among teenagers. Because its quite cheap, there is normally confusion at these kiosks.

  • Sicilia in bocca, Via Beato Cardinale G.B. Dusmet, 35. Tel “+39” 095 2500208, []. To try typical Sicilian food and pizza.
  • Beware that there are in fact two restaurants called Sicilia in bocca. The second one has very poor food quality, long waits, smoky outside section, and bad attitude towards foreigners (along with a different menu). When going to Sicilia in Bocca by taxi, be sure to specify the address.
  • In the proximity of Ursino Castle, there is a good selection of restaurants. Good food quality and decent prices.
  • Barrique Club, Via S. Guliano, 242, Tel +39 3206103478, [3]. Great atmosphere, good bar with Italian and international drinks, excellent snacks and cakes. At night live jazz and Sicilian music
  • Hotel Catania Cristal Park, Via Narciso 3, Phone: 0039 095 7164456(Fax: 0039 095443444),InfoWebCatania Cristal Park is a charming family-run hotel in the centre of Catania, Sicily, located a few steps from the main monuments and attractions of the city. This newly opened hotel offers cozy interiors and a welcoming, intimate atmosphere, providing the perfect accommodation to enjoy a relaxing holiday in Sicily.This enchanting Catania hotel, easily accessible by public transport, offers a perfect base from which to explore this ancient city full of history and discover all its highlights.The hotel is fully air-conditioned and boasts a bar and a wonderful terrace with garden (200 sqm) where guests can relax taking a refreshing drink while admiring the fascinating Sicilian sky. Furthermore, hotel Catania Cristal Park features a private parking, an Internet Point, a 24-hours reception, and free newspapers. The hotel is pet-friendly.
  • Hotel Agathae, Via Etnea 229, Phone: 095 2500436 (Fax: 0957152668), [4]. 3 star accommodation on the main drag running through Catania.
  • Agora Hostel, 6 Piazza Curro, +39 095 7233010 (), [5]. In a backstreet under the Duomo, it's lively and can fill up even out of season. Beds in a dorm rooms from €18.00.  edit
  • Gresi Hotel, Via Pacini 28. Off Via Etnea close to the post office. Tel:+39 095 322709,, [6]. Shiny clean, AC, bathroom, balcony, high arched ceilings with paintings. €75 without breakfast.
  • Hotel Etnea 316, Via Etnea 316, Phone: +39 095 2503076 (Fax: +39 095 2503076), [7]. Bright and airy 3 star guest house ideal for young travellers.
  • Hotel il Picchio Golf Resort , Via Nazionale, S.S. 120, 135 - 95012 Rovittello, Castiglione di Sicilia. Italy - Ph. +39.0942.986426 - Fax +39.0942.986323 [8]. “Il Picchio Golf Resort” is immersed in the most fascinating scenery in Sicily, in the Alcantara Valley, a true oasis between Mount Etna and Catania. Double rooms from €140 to €220.
  • The Parco degli Aragonesi [9], Viale Kennedy. Località La Playa, 95121, Tel. +39 095 7234073 and the Jolly Hotel Bellini [10], Piazza Trento, 13, 95129, Tel. +39 095 316933, are the two NH hotels in Catania.
  • Hotel il Principe, Via Alessi, 20/26, Tel. +39-095-2500345 (Fax +39-095-325799), [11]. Hotel Il Principe, boutique hotel located in a recently restored aristocratic building in the baroque heart of the historical centre of Catania. Availability and rates provided on the official web site.
  • La Pietra Antica O'Munti, Via Andronico s.n. - Fraz. Puntalazzo - 95010 Mascali CT, +39 095.7824035 (, fax: +39 095.968792), [12]. Farm house La Pietra Antica O'Munti, between Taormina and Acireale, near volcano Etna, is a good solution for your farm holiday in Sicily, Italy  edit
  • Hotel La Ville, Via Monteverdi, 15, +39 095 7465230 (fax: +39 095 7465189), [13]. One of the oldest hotels in Catania, this large 3 star family run establishment is well designed in a calming and refreshing liberty style and offers a homely welcome as well as business facilities. Self catering apartments also available.  edit
  • Hotel Nettuno, Viale Ruggero Di Lauria 121,, =+39 095 712 2006 (fax: +39 095 498 066), [14]. Modern and spacious four star hotel on the beach of Catania with full facilities, including open air swimming pool, restaurants, health spa and full meeting facilities. Ideal for families as well as corporate.  edit
  • Hotel Valentino, Piazza Santo Spirito 39. Phone: 39 095 2503072 Fax: 39 095 2503072, [16]. Charming little 3 star hotel in the heart of the city with excellent friendly staff and a pleasant and peaceful atmosphere.
  • Farmhouse Accommodation Arrigo, C.da Arrigo Soprano Linguaglossa, Tel. +39 095 643612 (Fax +39 095 7774518), [17]. The Agriturismo Arrigo is located at the slopes of Mount Etna surrounded by a striking and magnificent vegetation. In the silence of a land of strong and firm gastronomic traditions.
  • Ananda B&B, Via Muscatello 7 (Near Piazza Roma), +39 095 446760, [18]. Very Friendly B&B in the centre of Catania, walking distance from the Bellini Gardens, Via Etnea and the Market. 30.  edit
  • Hotel Villa Cibele (Hotel Villa Cibele), Marletta st. 17/b (Cibele st. corner) 95123 Catania (CT) - Sicily, +39 095 351480, [19]. The hotel residence Villa Cibele is housed in an elegant early 19th – century building. The villa was restructured and has reached the old time majesty and elegance. In it the villa emerge the ancient and the modern following by a logical line of design and colours. The Hotel Villa Cibele offers high quality service and relax. (37° 31' 00.91 N,15° 03' 47.10 E) edit
  • Bed and Breakfast Bruca (near Duomo), via Vittorio Emanuele,201 (Catania centro), 3337097607, [20]. The bed and breakfast has a great position and the main attractions are easy to reach in a few minutes also by feet(the baroque dome, the ancient fish market).In the evening it'is possible to enjoy the night life in the area very rich of the most famous and most interesting bars and restaurants.  edit
  • Hotel Villa Romeo, Via Platamone 8, Phone: +39 095 534714 (Fax: +39 095 530257), [21]. Elegant, exquisite and comfortable hotel near the railway station.
  • Luxury Hotel Romano Palace (Luxury Hotel Romano Palace), Viale Kennedy 28. Beach resort few minutes away from Catania historical center, very close to airport, with Jacuzzi, private beach and restaurant.  edit
  • Visit Mount Etna - an eerie volcanic landscape, with solidifed "rivers" of lava. The top is 3,323 m high, so be prepared for the cold, even in summer. One bus a day runs at about 8:30AM from near the railway station via Nicolosi to the Rifugio Sapienza, 1,400 m below the summit.
  • You could also have a visit along the coast for Acicastello (a nice medieval castle built on a giant rock, over the see) are Acitrezza, a little fisherman village well known for its giant rocks lying in the sea, supposed to be the ones thrown by the Cyclops at Ulysses. You will also find good restaurants and a great port. You could have a look for Acireale, a town known for the greatest carnival of Sicilia (in february).
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Proper noun


  1. Province of Sicily, Italy.
  2. Town and capital of Catania.


  • Bulgarian: Катания (1,2)
  • French: Catane (1, 2)
  • Greek: Κατάνη el(el)
  • Italian: Catania (1) , Catania (2) f.
  • Maltese: Katanja
  • Polish: Katania
  • Russian: Катания
  • Sicilian: Catania


Italian Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia it

Proper noun

Catania f.

  1. Catania (province)
  2. Catania (town)

Derived terms


Proper noun

Catania f.

  1. Catania

Simple English

Comune di Catania
u Liotru, symbol of Catania
Country Italy
Mayor Vincenzo Emanuele
(temporary, pending election)
Elevation m (23 ft)
Area 180.88 km2 (70 sq mi)
Population (as of 05-2007)
 - Total 313,110
 - Density 1,731/km² (4,483/sq mi)
Time zone CET, UTC+1
Coordinates 37°31′0″N, 15°4′0″E
Gentilic Catanesi
Dialing code095
Postal code 95100
Frazioni San Giovanni Galermo
Patron St. Agatha
 - Day February 5

Location of Catania in Italy

Catania is a city in the region of Sicily in Italy. It is located at the east coast of Sicily, between Messina and Syracuse. It is the capital of the Province of Catania. 298,957 people live in and over 700,000 around Catania. This makes it the second largest city in Sicily.


As of December 2007 298,957 people are living in Catania.[1] 47,2% are male and 52,8% are female. 20,5% are children (younger than 18 years) and 18,9% are pensioners. Between 2002 and 2007 3,35% of the people left the city. Nearly everyone is catholic.

Twin towns - Sister cities

Catania is twinned with:


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