Catania: Living Dangerously

Catania is Sicily’s second largest city. Home to more than a million people in the metropolitan area, it is located 24 miles from Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano.

Snowy Mount Etna looms over Catania. Here you see the main street, lined with 18th century buildings and leading directly to the volcano which is still very active. I stayed just two blocks from the yellow building in the background of this picture.

The city was destroyed by an eruption of Etna in 1669 and by an earthquake in 1693. Little remains of pre-1700 Catania. I have read that one-third of the city population died. There was so much lava that the city’s port was partially filled and the city’s area became much larger.

Much of Catania is built on the lava rock that was left in the late 1600s, The owners of this large building just left it there and built on top of it several centuries ago.

Today much of the city is comprised of large buildings lining the streets densely, most of them dating from the 18th century. Grand palaces are scattered throughout the city but today many of them are broken up into small apartments where laundry flies from the windows. Catania seemed to me to be smaller Naples. Like Napoli, there are no traffic lights in the busiest area of the city. I thought I was going to die in the taxi that took me from the railroad station to my apartment.

Beautiful old churches seem to be found in nearly every block. I thought this one was especially fine. Can you spot the angel?

Crossing streets is really a challenge!

Catania has two famous market areas: the fish market located just outside the cathedral  where I found the man with the swordfish head shown at the top of this post, and a larger market that stretches through the center of the city beginning within a couple of blocks of my AirBnB rental. That one not only sells food of all kinds but also shoes and clothing, household gadgets – just about anything you can imagine. If you’ve followed this blog for a while you know I love taking photographs of markets. Here’s some of my favorites from Catania.


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