Catania- the Black Town
The second largest city of Sicily is situated at the foot of the southern hills of Mount Etna, and extends to the coast of the Ionian Sea. In the shadow of the great Etna, the bustling port has already defeated several times the natural forces of the impressive volcano.
In the 8th century BC Catania was founded by the Greeks of Naxos. In the following centuries the town grew under the power of the Romans by means of lively trade throughout the Mediterranean Sea, to the most important trading point. The Arabs took advantage of the potential fertile soil for their cultivation of citrus fruits.
However, on a stroll through the city of Catania you especially discover numerous palaces and squares in the Baroque style. That’s because after a catastrophic volcanic eruption in the 17th century the city was almost completely destroyed, whereupon the architect Giovanni Battista, helped the city, lying under lava and ash, to its original splendor in the baroque style. Like a phoenix from the ashes, the great reconstruction took place in the 18th Century.
That the city is closely involved with the volcano is mainly shown in the usage of the dark lava stone for palaces, churches and houses. Not without reason the city is also called the "Black Town". The writer Giovanni Verga and the composer Vincenzo Bellini, the sons of the great port, give the city it extra shine and make it famous far beyond its borders.
Today the city has grown to a very lively and modern town. Thanks to the fertile soil on the hills of the Etna, to the rich harvest and thanks to the port as an export gateway, Catania has become one of the most important economic centers in Sicily.