Catania (Greek: Κατάνη – Katánē; Latin: Catăna and Catĭna;Arabic: Balad-al-Fil or Medinat-al-Fil, Wadi Musa and Qataniyah) is 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 (752,895 in the Metropolitan Area) it is the second-largest city on the island.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 2,50 m barrel-vaulted corridor . This passageway guides in its innermost part, a rectangular ample area measuring 12x13m, 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.
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.
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 .
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.
Catania is famous for its legendary nightlife, and not just in Sicily. Legendary to the extent that it has the right to speak about its “movida”. Even if it isn’t quite normal here to have dinner after midnight like it is in Madrid, this Sicilian city has just as many clubs and places to enjoy oneself as the Spanish capital. One of the most popular meeting places is the Scalinata Alessi, a staircase in the center of the university area of the city, just a short walk from Via Crociferi, where there are lots of clubs.
The club "Banacher" (Aci Castello) is the most famous summer-club in the area.
One of the most famous clubs is Nievski, the first pub that opened up in the city. Now there are
about 120 of them, that are always crowded and lively. Catania is a university city that attracts students from all over the south of Italy, and they and the city’s “viveur” inhabitants make
Catania’s nightlife so interesting that it seems natural to stay out until dawn. The choice of fun things to do is never-ending: there are 25 theaters and an endless variety of
clubs. You can choose between Arabic-like, hi-tech, kitsch or minimal Japanese atmospheres. The more sophisticated wine bars, that attract the Catania middles classes, are a bit further out of the
old city center, in Corso Italia, in the stretch between Piazza Europa up to the crossroads with Via Monfalcone, a modern, exclusive city area that goes as far as the seafront.
If you get hungry after walking, talking and dancing there is always the Etoile d’oro that was the first bar to stay open 24 hours a day in 1977 and that now makes 1000 arancini per days, offered in a thousand different varieties.
Follow our guide-lines and you won't get lost in the beginning of your experience
Get a flat in the city-center at local prices
Info about parties,
activities and pictures
Beautiful pictures and info about the city
Info about the most known clubs of the city-center
Discover some tasty specialties from our region
Videos of the past years by other International students
Videos of some typical Sicilian song