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Catania and Surroundings

Villas in Sicily near Catania

CataniaAfter a terrible earthquake in 1693, which destroyed most of the towns and villages of south-eastern Sicily, Catania was completely rebuilt with a baroque touch. Piazza Duomo boasts an amazing quantity of impressive buildings: first of all the Duomo (with its elegant columns and split frames on two orders inspired by ancient architecture), the Seminario dei Chierici, the Palazzo Municipale o Palazzo degli Elefanti, Porta Uzeda (a picturesque opening of the town walls onto Piazza Duomo), the Amenano Fountain and the Elephant Fountain. From Piazza Duomo you can also see the Badia di S. Agata, with its theatrical concave-convex front side. From Via Etnea a lot of side streets depart and several squares open, lined by the facades of elegant noble mansions ( for example, Palazzo Manganelli and Palazzo San Giuliano).

Unforgettable amongst the city buildings are: Palazzo Biscari, with its grand hall of mirrors and the picturesque theatre-terrace; the Collegio dei Nobili, with its extravagant circular courtyard with decorated pavement; Palazzo Guttadauro of Reburdone, with its magnificent court of honour; Palazzo Asmundo Francicanova, with its hanging garden and rococo furbishing; and the overshadowing Collegio Gesuitico, with three courtyards.

In the baroque grandness of Via Crociferi, delimited by two arcades, S. Benedetto Church, S. Francesco Borgia Church, the Collegio dei Gesuiti and S. Giuliano Church overlook the short street splendidly symbolizing the ecclesiastic power. This is also imposively represented by the magnificent Monastero dei Benedettini, and by S. Nicola l'Arena Church.

Examples of rational floor-plan are the baroque towns of Ramacca and Belpasso, characterised by a pure orthogonal urban structure, and Grammichele, whose urban texture develops from a pure hexagon from which six streets depart. Acireale stands on a terrace dominating the Ionian sea and it's famous for its innumerable baroque buildings, both religious and belonging to aristocratic families. Beautiful and stylistically composite is the Duomo, but worthy of attention are also the Palazzo Comunale, characterized by baroque balconies decorated with grotesque statues, and S. Sebastiano Church, with its opulent façade and richly decorated interior.

Villas in Sicily near Catania

Piazza del Duomo and the octagonal dome of Sant'Agata Abbey

The theatre-terrace of Palazzo Biscari

The beautiful facade of the Duomo

The Dome of the Cathedral

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