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Catania

Villas in Sicily near Catania

CataniaFor better or for worse, the development of the city of Catania has been conditioned by its close proximity of Mount Etna. It has benefited from the fertile soil on its slopes, succumbed to the lava flows and turned lava into material to build houses. The people here have never wanted to leave their land and have come to terms with living with the daily risk of eruptions and earthquakes.

Today, Catania looks like any other large urban complex, with a splendid historic centre. It was rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake with all the lavishness of the Baroque style, and is now surrounded by four areas of urban development. To the south is the district that sprang up between the late 18th and early 19th centuries in the area which was covered by the lava in the 1669 eruption. To the north, the city has expanded in the direction of the volcano, and reflects the gradual development of architectural stylish from the Baroque to the present day. To the west and east lie the areas built in the 20th century, laid out according to a series of wide streets, the final section of which, over the last few decades, has become the much sought-after and elegant commercial centre of the city.

Historically, the city was founded by the earliest colonizers from ancient Greece (in the 8th century BC). They ruled for three hundred years, until the Romans gained the upper hand. Roman dominion is reflected in numerous buildings, the remains of which are still standing today.

The medieval town plan established by the Norman and Swabian invaders has been almost completely wiped out by earthquakes and eruptions. After the 1669 eruption and the earthquake soon after in 1693, the city was brought to its keens as a result of the destruction of farming land and the influx of large number of refugees without any income. When the city was rebuilt, during which time the Benedictine order distinguished itself among the clergy, grater attention was paid to anti-seismic precautions. The streets were built straight and wide, interspersed with broad squares, with the specific aim of enabling the inhabitants to use the open spaces in the event of future earthquakes.

During the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, population growth, the building of the railway and the expansion of the infrastructures of the Italian Navy resulted in haphazard urban development, effectively cutting off the city from its view of the sea.

Villas in Sicily near Catania

View of Catania

Piazza Duomo

Roman Amphitheatre

Etna eruption

Piazza Università

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