A bit of History - more touristic information can be found in the Catania municipality webpage
PIAZZA DEL DUOMO
It has been designed by the celebrated architect Vaccarini, surrounded by magnificent baroque buildings creating a great elegance impart. It is recognized as the heart of the city and at its centre rises the Fountain of the Elephant. On the South side is the fine 1800’s Amenano Fountain, partly offset by the Chierici and Pardo palaces. The Cathedral joining with the Bishop’s Palace and the Porta Uzeda dominates the square. On the North side stands the fine Palazzo Senatorio or of the Elephants, now knew as Town Hall and on the left it is placed the lovely Badia of S. Agata.
Dedicated to the martyred St. Agatha, Catania’s
patron saint, it was erected in the late
11th century on the orders of Roger I, and rebuilt after the 1693’s
earthquake. Along via Vittorio Emanuele II, by the courtyard of the Bishop’s Palace, one can
look up to
the tall lava apses, dating back to the Norman age. The cathedral’s solid-looking structure
suggests that it was conceived as a fortified church. On the North side a
fine portal ornamented with an entablature of cherubs can be admired.
It is the most beautiful secular
building in Catania. It was erected after the earthquake in
1693, and in 1934 Ignazio Biscari
decided to bring in it different collections, such as
the objects from the Benedictine Friars and donations from Duke Zappalà Asmundo. The South wing of the palace shows a rich decoration of figures and
volutes, cherubs and racemes, that fill the window frames along the long terrace
relieving the sombreness of the dark facade. The entrance of the
on via Museo Biscari, consists of a rich portal and on the first floor are the main reception rooms. In the back
you can enjoy
a splendid Salon with some frescoes realized by
Sebastiano Lo Monaco. The centre of the ceiling opens out into an oval dome with
gallery conceived as the place where the music would descend from the heaven.
The fresco portrays the Triumph of the Family celebrated by the council of the
Gods. A lovely spiral staircase situated in the gallery next to the hall
provides access to the little platform. From the gallery the south terrace of
the building can be admired.
Giovanni Verga’s house
It is a square room surrounded by elegant buildings. On the right stands Sangiuliano palace, realized by Vaccarini. The square is illuminated at night by four fine lamps (dated 1957) by a sculptor from Catania. Further down rises the lovely concave facade of the Church of S. Maria della Consolazione designed by Stefano Ittar in the 18th century.
At the centre of the square lie the remains of a Roman
amphitheatre that could accomodate over 15,000 spectators. Much of the structure lies hidden below the square and the surrounding baroque buildings.
building (1700s) was built on the foundations of an original
chapel dedicated to S. Agatha. Within the church, a
chapel preserves the furnace where Agatha is believed to have met her death. Other sources claim that she
died in prison. According to popular tradition the "Church of S. Agata al
Carcere", rising behind the square, was built on the site of the jail where she
was imprisoned in 251. At the entrance you can see the fine Romanesque doorway. A wild
olive-tree was planted behind the church where, still according to
legend, a plant had sprouted at the Saint’s stopping, on her way to the prison.
It is a large and luxuriant park with a great variety of exotic plants. From the top of the hill, in the little kioskit is possible to enjoy a beautiful view of the city and out towards the Etna volcano.
It is an austere and solid-looking structure built on the sea-front by Frederick II of Swabia, now not so close to the sea because of the lava flow that invaded the city in 1669. The castle derives its name from the Roman consul Arsinius or possibly from the Orsinis, a Roman family who refuged here in the Middle Ages . The castle is square in plan, with a large round tower at each corner and two additional towers half-way along two sides.
The city’s Opera House, dedicated to the famous composer Vincenzo Bellini, with its wonderful facade welcomes spectators.The acoustics of its beautiful auditorium is considered to be among the best in the world.