Why you’ll love Catania
… a kind elephant turned away the wild beasts that once terrorized the first inhabitants of the city.
In gratitude the citizens erected a statue and named it “U Liotru”.
According to Idrisi, a famous Arab cartographer into King Roger II’s service, the elephant in lava stone was a talisman, created during Byzantine period, in order to protect the city by Etna eruptions.
… many are the origins of its name:
“Katane”, grater, with reference to the sorrounding lavic territory; “Katina” because of the configuration of the land around the city as a basin; “Katà (nearby) – Aitnè (Etna); “Balad-El-Fil” or “Medina-El-Fil” (from the Arab “City of the elephant); Katà –Aitnen (below Etna), today it is :
…telling the story…
Long before the Roman conquest from Valerio Messalia, the city was founded by the Greeks coming from Calcide in Eubea. Then it was conquered by Gerone I from Syracusa and again caught by the same founders.
During the War of Peloponneso, the city was allied with Athens against Syracuse.
Syracuse reconquered it in 403 BC, once expelled its inhabitants, it was handed over to the mercenaries from Campania. Starting from this period the city experienced a decline that was resolved with the conquest of Messalia in 263 A.C.
It became the colony of the Roman Empire in 21 A.C. From this moment the city covered important roles. It is testified by the expansion of the urban tissue.
After the fall of the Roman Empire was conquered by the German of Theodoric the Greatest then followed the Byzantine and after the Arabs. Was governed by the Normans. The Swabian made the seat of the itinerant court of Federic II of Swabia. Then followed the Anjou, the Aragonse, the Bourbons and the Savoy. As in all Sicily, from 1860 started to be part of the Reign of Italy.
During the Second World War, after the disembarkation of the Allied Forces in Sicily, Catania, beside enduring bombings , was also the scene of different collision between the British Army and the Axis Powers.
It is famous “The battle of Simeto” (named “ Operation Fustian”) where the troops of the First Division of the British Airborne had to face the German troops of the Goering Division and the Third Regiment of the First Division Para troopers.
The story of the Second World War in Sicily ends with the martyrdom of the city of Messina where joined the Italian German troops during their escape followed by the American troops of the General Patton and by the Anglo – Canadian troops of the General Montgomery.
Begins from here the tragic phenomenon of the “marocchinate” or rather the permission to the French colonial troops (Moroccans, Tunisians, Senegalese) to commit every type of abuse on the civil population.
It must be said that Volcano Etna had an important role in the history of Catania. Was the cause of strong earthquakes which have destroyed a part of the city. The inhabitants of Catania have always rebuilt with a great force and ardor showing great tenacity comforted by a strong devotion to the Patron of the city: Saint Agata which protects it from centuries.
Today Catania it is one of the main and active Italian cities
…walking between myths, artists, art, culture and nature
Land of the myths and legends, Catania it is indeed. Legends which talk about simple and extraordinary men which with strength and courage faced their destiny.
In the center of Catania, exactly in the University’s Square we can find 4 bronze candlesticks which tell about the four Catania legends: the young Gammazita, the brothers Anapia and Anfinomo, the Paladin Uzeta and the young boy Colapesce.
A legend tells about a young girl form Catania which name was Gammazita which during the time of the Anjou, disturbed by the advances of a French soldier preferred to die rather than violate the promise that she made to her boyfriend.
Another legend tells about Anapia and Anfinomo example of pietas filiale. Two young farmers surprised by a sudden eruption and by the consequent lava flow, instead of running to save their life decided to put on their shoulders their parents instead of abandoning them.
In an instant the lava flow divided then recompose and the two brothers were safe.
The third legend tells about the Paladin Uzeta, a young boy of humble origin, which with its courage succeeded to defeat the Ursini Giants which dwelt inside of the castle which carries their name ( Ursini). The king, Federic II of Swabia was so grateful and admired the courage of Uzeta and decided to gave him as wife, his daughter.
There is also another legend which connects to the king Federic II of Svevia is the legend of Colapesce, an able swimmer capable to resist a long time under the water. The king, came warned about the capacities of the boy, decides to meet him and test his abilities.
After a series of tests made in immersion, the young Colapesce observed that Sicily was settled on three columns:one of that was placed in Capo Lilibeo, the second one in Capo Passero and the third one was placed in Capo Peloro. This last one in particular, under Messina, was inclined.
Colapesce dived in again. Still now, he support this column to protect Messina and the entire Sicily. It said that when an earthquake occurs, it provoked by Cola who switch the shoulder with which support the column with the other one because of the tiredness.
Other myths like Polifemo, Aci and Galatea, Ulisse are recounted in Aci Castello and in Aci Trezza (places very near to the center of Catania).
It is extraordinary that go for a stroll through the streets of Catania means bump into each kind of antiquity.
Streets fascinate because of their beauty their majesty, and for the artistic magnificence that they offer during the way.
No doubt, Catania fascinates you! It charm you because in its historical city center it holds two considerable testimonies goes back to the roman period: the Odeon Theater and nearby the Roman Theater.
In reality, the second building was built in Greek era but was restored between the I and II century. In the same period were other structures among which a few thermal construction realized with lava stones.
Is a must to visit Ursino castle founded by Federic II of Swabia in the XIII century is today the civic museum.
The true splendor of Catania is its Baroque and its reconstruction after the earthquake, preserves the urban arrangement projected by the architect Vaccarini: extensive straight roads which are connected around the main street – Etnea, opened on squares and gardens.
Between this spectacular streets is facing the Cathedral Square which presents with the characteristic fountain “du Lotru”, the real center of the historical city.
The entire historical center is a labyrinth of streets rich of everything: the Cathedral Square with the Fountain of Elephant, the Cathedral of Saint Agata, the Archbishopric, the Town Hall, the Fountain of Amenano river, the ex- seminary of the Clerics, porta Uzeda and the fish market.
Via Vittorio Emanuele II with churches of Saint Agata alla Badia and Saint Placido
Via Dusmet with the Biscari Palace, The Walls of Charles V, the Arche of the marine, the Port of Catania.
The Square of the Martyrs with the statue of Saint Agata, the patron of the city.
Via Vittorio Emanuele II with the eighteenth century manor building, the Cutelli Convict, the Bourbon prison.
Via Saint Giuliano with the “Vincenzo Bellini” Theater, Sangiorgi Theater, Manganelli Palace.
Via Etnea with San Demetrio Palace, the Minoriti Palace, the Church of Saint Michele the Archangel, the statue of Vincenzo Bellini, the Roman Amphitheater, the Church of Saint Agata, the Tezzano Palace, the Palace of the Tuscan, the Palace of the post, the Bellini Garden.
Via Saint Euplio and Roma Square with the statue of King Umberto, the ancient trees of the Bellini Garden.
Via Saint Maddalena with the Convict of the Dominican Friars, the Church of Saint Domenico, the Church of Saint Agata la Vetere, the first historical cathedral of Catania, the panorama of the Saintgiuliano Hill.
Dante Square with the basilica of Saint Nicolò la Rena and the ex- monastery of the Benedectine.
Via Teatro Greco with the Odeon and near to it the Roman-Greek Theatre, the Nunnery of Saint Benedict.
Via Crociferi with the Arch of the Nunnery of the Benedectine.
San Francesco Square with the Church of Immacolata, the Museum of the musician Vincenzo Bellini.
Regarding the baroque existing in Catania, this was source of inspiration of the directors Bolognini and Zeffirelli, who turned two famous films: “il bell’Antonio” and “ Storia di una capinera”.
Parks and gardens in Catania are present and well – groomed, famous is the Villa Bellini, urban park of almost 70.000 square meters.
Catania is the cradle of writers, poets, actors, singers, important artists, just remember Giovanni Verga.
Catania is devoted to Saint Agata, its patron. Every year renews its devotion with an important holiday, third into the world after the Holly Week in Siviglia and the Holyday of Corpus Domini of Guzco in Perù exactly for the number of people that involves.
…journey through flavors…
Arriving in Catania means to be prepared to an experience which involves mind, heart and the five senses through the palate. Products and typical dishes, wine, fruit and fish. What you need more?
Characteristic of Catania are the dishes based on fish. Typical is the “pasta alla norma”, “pasta con nero di seppia”. There are important the wines and the sweets as the “olivette di Sant’Antonio” (marzipan sweets).
It is true that in Catania are a lot of renowned restaurants where you can eat real well but Catania is famous also for the Street Food where it is possible to eat excellent horse meat. Higher is the quality of the products provided by the Truck Food.
come on, join us in this magnificient islands…
We from Discover Messina Sicily, will tell about it, about this city and we will do it through our touristic services and excursions with our guides and our assistants in Italian, English, Spanish, French and Rumenian.
We from Discover Messina, Sicily elaborate with you your “next travel story”
What to see in Catania
Experiences in Catania
Discovering our land