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The province of Catania

Catania

A panoramic view of Catania
Copyright © Luigi Nifosì
 

Catania (Zip Code 95100), chief town of the province, is 192 Km. distant from Agrigento, 126 Km. from Caltanissetta, 97 Km. from Enna, 96 Km. from Messina, 249 Km. from Palermo, 104 Km. from Ragusa, 58 Km. from Siracusa, 348 Km. from Trapani.

Copyright © Affinità Elettive The Cathedral

The municipality counts 341.455 inhabitants, its surface measures 18.088 hectares, and its population density counts 1888 inhabitants per square kilometre. It rises over a flat area, 10 meters above the sea-level.

The City Hall is located in piazza Duomo n. 9, tel. ++39 095-7421111, toll free number 800887077 (only for italian residence). E-mail address is: ufficiostampa@ctonline.it.

Situated in one of Sicily's most fertile areas between the Ionian sea and the slopes of mountain Etna, the city of Catania is outstanding for the rich production of citrus fruits, fruit, vegetable, and cereals. Cattle breeding, as well as sheep and goat farms, are outstanding because of the vast pasture areas. The handicraft activity is characterized by the local objects made with lava stone.

The name Catania derives from the Sicilian term Katane, that means "flaying knife, grater" because the city rises over a bristling lava stone land.

Copyright © Luigi Nifosì Aerial view of Catania

The first inhabited center was founded in 729 B.C. by a Calcidesi colony, over a hill where the city's Acropolis was established.

In 476 B.C. it was subjugated to Ierone, tyrant of Siracusa, and the inhabitants were confined in the nearby Leontini. In 461 B.C., the inhabitants of Catania reconquered their city. Approximately in 263 B.C., during the Roman era, the city grew thanks to the florid shipping business.

In 1071 A.D. it was conquered by the Normans, and in 1195, with the advent of the Swabian dynasty, it experienced a long period of decadence. Subsequently, it was ruled by the Aragonese dynasty; during this period, the first Sicilian University, called  Siculorum Gymnasium", was founded. Between 1669 and 1693, the city was devastated by a lava eruption first, and by a terrible earthquake afterwards. The current inhabited center was rebuilt after 1693, thanks to the new urban project designed by the lieutenant and duke Giuseppe Lanza of Camastra.

The most outstanding monuments are the Chiesa di S. Nicolò and the annexed homonymous Benedictine Monastery (that today is the residence of the Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia- Faculty of Letters and Philosophy), both of the XVII century, the Chiesa di S. Giuliano erected in the XVIII century, symbol of Catania's baroque, the Chiesa di S. Maria di Gesù of the XV century preserving a marvelous table by De Chirico (1525), the Cathedral that goes back to 1078, that preserves various tombs of Aragonese kings, and the chapel of S. Agata, the city's patron saint.

Copyright © Affinità Elettive Bellini Park

Architecturally outstanding are the Castello Ursino erected in 1239, today host of the Civico museum and of the Picture Gallery, the Belliniano museum set in the residence of Vincenzo Bellini, the Roman amphitheater of the Augustan era, and the home where the writer Giovanni Verga was born, currently seat of his personal museum.

Catania boasts numerous famous names, such as the physicist Ettore Majorana (1906-1938), the writer Giovanni Verga (1840-1922), the meteorologist Filippo Eredia, and the musician Vincenzo Bellini.