Catania is the second largest city in Sicily located on the east coast facing the Ionian Sea. It is the capital of the Metropolitan City of Catania, one of the ten largest cities in Italy, and the seventh largest metropolitan area in Italy. The population of the city proper is 313,000 while the population of the metropolitan area of the city, the metropolitan city of Catania, was 1,116,168 inhabitants.
Catania was destroyed by catastrophic earthquakes in 1169 and 1693, and by several volcanic eruptions from the neighboring Mount Etna, the most violent of which was in 1669. Catania was founded in the eighth century BC. In 1434, the first university in Sicily was founded in the city. In the fourteenth century and in the Renaissance, Catania was one of the most important cultural, artistic and political centers of Italy.
Catania is located on the east coast of the island of Sicily, at the foot of Mount Etna.
The symbol of the city is U Liotru, or the Fontana dell Elefante, assembled in 1736 by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. It portrays an ancient Lavic stone elephant and is topped by an Egyptian obelisk by Syene. Legend has it that Vaccarini's original elephant was neutral, which the men of Catania took as an insult to his manhood. To appease them, Vaccarini appropriately attached elephantine testes to the original statue.
The Sicilian name u Liotru is a phonetic change of Heliodorus, a nobleman who, after unsuccessfully trying to become bishop of the city, became a sorcerer and, therefore, was condemned to the stake. Legend has it that Heliodorus was the sculptor of the lava elephant and that he used to magically mount it on his fantastic journeys from Catania to Constantinople. Another legend says that Heliodorus was able to transform into an elephant.
The presence of an elephant in the ancient history of Catania is surely related to both zooarchaeology and popular creeds. In fact, the prehistoric fauna of Sicily from the Upper Paleolithic included dwarf elephants. Palaeontologist Othenio Abel suggested that the presence of dwarf elephants in Sicily could be the origin of the legend of the Cyclopes. The ancient Greeks, after finding the skulls of dwarf elephants, about twice the size of a human skull, with a large central nasal cavity (mistaken for a single large eye socket) assumed they were giant skulls with only one eye.
The Catanian Museum of Mineralogy, Paleontology and Vulcanology contains the integral unburied skeleton of an Elephas falconeri in an excellent state of conservation. The first inhabitants of Etna molded such a lavicic device to idolize the mythical proboscide.
Catania has a unique cuisine, with strong Sicilian features. Dishes like Pasta alla Norma are from the city. Pasta alla Norma is a pasta dish made of macaroni-style penne, tomato sauce, sliced aubergines and often topped with salted ricotta, or ricotta salata in Italian. Granita, a sorbet with a popular flavor, is believed to come from the city as well. Blood oranges, like the famous Tarocco, are common to the city and to others. Another famous dish is horse meat, usually cooked in charcoal and sold in the streets and restaurants. In the surroundings of Castello Ursino you will find the most famous horse meat restaurants with many different price ranges. However, the most famous and traditional food is the Arancini. It is a rice croquette stuffed with any type of ingredients such as meat sauce, mushrooms, pistachio, smoked salmon … It has an orange color due to the saffron used. The arancini are for sale at any store in Tavola Calda and can be eaten at any time of the day.
Catania has a commercial port (port of Catania), an international airport (Catania Fontanarossa), a central train station (Catania Centrale) and is a main node of the Sicilian motorway system.
The motorways that serve Catania are the A18 Messina-Catania and the A19 Palermo-Catania; The extensions of the A18 that go from Catania to Siracusa and to Gela are currently under construction.
The Circumetnea is a narrow gauge railway that runs 110 km (68 mi) from Catania, around the base of Mount Etna. It reaches the height of 976 m (3,202.10 ft) above sea level before descending to join the coast at Giarre-Riposto to the north.
Video credits to Around The World YouTube channel