We wrapped up our tour of Sicily in Catania, on the east coast. On a clear day, we should be able to look down Via Etna and see Mt Etna. But not today.
Founded in 729 BC, Catania was a major power during the 4th and 5th centuries BC. It was a prosperous commercial center during the 1600s until disaster struck in 1669, when Mt Etna erupted, engulfing the city in molten lava. That was followed by an earthquake in 1693 that left 12,000 people dead.
The new city of Catania was designed to provide escape routes and shelter in case of another eruption. Grand palazzi and churches were built out of the volcanic rock.
On the Piazza del Duomo is the Cattedrale di Sant’Agata.
These marble columns were taken from the ruins of the city’s Roman amphitheater.
The famous Catanian composer, Vincenzo Bellini, is buried here.
In the center of Piazza del Duomo is the Fontana dell’Elefante. This black-lava elephant dates from Roman times.
On the other side of the piazza is the Fontana dell’Amenano. It commemorates the Amenano River, which once ran above ground. This is where the Greeks first founded the city of Katane (Catania).
La Pescheria, the fish market, is one of Catania’s most famous sites.
Will checked out the local coffee shop.
This guy staked out a good spot and had a clever display for earrings and other jewelry.
For some more recent history of Sicily our group toured the Museum of the 1943 Landings in Sicily (Museo Storico dello Sbarco), housed in an unused brick factory that has been transformed into a cultural center near the main railway station.
The July 10, 1943 Allied landing was the beginning of the end of the WWII conflict in Italy. Nearly one year before D-Day, Allied troops found themselves fighting against – and at the same time liberating – their Italian adversaries.
The museum recreates Catania street scenes from before the invasion. We were taken into a mock bomb shelter to experience the shaking and noise of an air raid in an interactive simulation, then exited to a recreated scene of post-bombing devastation.
There are multiple galleries and exhibits of photos and artifacts that delve into the history surrounding the devastation in Sicily and its effect on the lives of the local people.
The last evening of our tour we visited the Benanti Winery, on the slopes of Mt Etna.
One of the Benanti brothers gave us the tour.
The original wine press
Our last Sicilian dinner
Wine pairings with each course – one of the dishes was a risotto with herbed cream sauce and green tangerines.
It was a lovely evening and a lovely ending to our tour of Sicily.