This lively volcanic city lying beneath Etna's shadow is very popular for its charming cultural, artistic and political centre to explore
The second largest city in Sicily with a population of around 300,000, located on the eastern shores under the shadows of Mount Etna. It has an important university, excellent nightlife and bustling city center and is considered by most to be the cultural capital of Sicily.
On several occasions volcanic eruptions destroyed the city, the most devastating of which happened in the 17th Century. In 1669 Catania was covered in lava and then again in 1693 another rocked the town down to rubble. This resulted in the entire old town being rebuilt in a Baroque style with wide open squares and avenues. In addition, the lava from the eruption was used as an essential material in the re-construction and hence a "grey" city was born and is unique in the world for this.
Catania is a lively city with many excellent restaurants and has a colourful and charasmatic fish market with a worldwide reputation. The local signature dish is the Pasta alla Norma dedicated to Bellini (Catania's most famous composer) and consists of fried chunks of aubergine, a rich tomato sauce and salty ricotta cheese.
The main hub of the city and an ideal meeting point is the Piazza Duomo with it's grand Cathedral and the elephant lava statue. The beaches are worthy for a day of sun and surf with the Riviera dei Ciclopi stretching out north of the city, while the Playa is a golden-sand expanse with Mount Etna looming behind in the background.
Catania is on the main Messina - Siracusa railway line, and is thus connected by direct trains to mainland Italy. Buses as well as trains serve local destinations, and urban buses cover the built-up area. The Catania Fontanarossa Airport is only 5km away from the center and is one of south Italy's busiest airports
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