41 Facts About Catania


Catania was founded in the 8th century BC by Chalcidian Greeks.

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Catania today is the industrial, logistical, and commercial center of Sicily.

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The central "old town" of Catania features exuberant late-baroque architecture, prompted after the 1693 earthquake, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Around 900, when Catania was part of the emirate of Sicily, it was known in Arabic as Balad al-fil and Madinat al-fil, respectively meaning "the Village (or Country) of the Elephant" and "the City of the Elephant".

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Average age of Catania residents is 41 compared to the Italian average of 42.

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The reason for this population decline in the comune di Catania is mainly due to a large segment of the population leaving the city centre to go to live in the uptown residential areas of the comuni of the Metropolitan area.

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The port of Catania appears to have been much frequented in ancient time and was the chief place of export for the corn of the rich neighbouring plains.

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Catania was associated with the ancient legend of Amphinomos and Anapias, who, on occasion of a great eruption of Etna, abandoned all their property and carried off their aged parents on their shoulders.

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The philosopher and legislator Charondas, born in Catania, putatively wrote program of laws used here and in other Chalcidic cities, both in Sicily and through Magna Graecia.

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Catania appears to have remained independent until the conquest by the despot Hieron of Syracuse; in 476 BC, he expelled all the original inhabitants of Catania and replaced them with his subjects from the town of Leontini – said to have numbered no less than 10, 000, consisting partly of Syracusans and Peloponnesians.

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In 415 BC, Catania became involved with the expedition to Sicily pursued by the Athenians to punish Syracuse.

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Catania became an ally, and the headquarters of the Athenian army for the first year of the expedition, and a base of their subsequent operations against Syracuse.

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Catania was now restored to a fragile independence; changing sides during the wars starting in 311 BC of Agathocles of Syracuse with the Carthaginians.

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When Pyrrhus landed in Sicily in 278 BC, Catania was the first to open its gates to him, and welcomed him with great splendor.

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One of the most serious eruptions of Mount Etna happened in 121 BC, when a great part of Catania was overwhelmed by streams of lava, and the hot ashes fell in such quantities in the city itself, as to break in the roofs of the houses.

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Catania was under the Islamic emirate for a short time, when it fell to the Normans of Roger I of Sicily.

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Catania was one of the main centers of the Sicilian Vespers revolt against the House of Anjou, and was the seat of the incoronation of the new Aragonese king of Sicily, Peter I In the 14th century it gained importance as it was chosen by the Aragonese as a Parliament and Royal seat.

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Catania lost its capital role when, in the early 15th century, Sicily was turned into a member of the Crown of Aragon, and kept its autonomy and original privileges specially during the period from 1282 to 1410.

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Catania was one of the vanguards of the movement for the Sicilian autonomy in the early 19th century.

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Since the following year Catania was part of the newly unified Italy, whose history it shares since then.

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The problems faced in Catania were emblematic of those faced by other towns in the Mezzogiorno, namely a heavy gap in industrial development and infrastructures, and the threat of the mafia.

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Metropolitan City of Catania was established in 2015 and replaced the former Province of Catania.

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Metropolitan area of Catania includes the comune of Catania and 26 surrounding comuni forming an urban belt (498, 650 inhabitants).

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These comuni form a system with the centre of Catania sharing its economical and social life and creating an organic urban texture.

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City of Catania proper is divided in six administrative areas called circoscrizioni.

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Presence of an elephant in the millenary history of Catania is surely connected to both zooarcheology and popular creeds.

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Baroque city centre of Catania is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Catania is the first economic and industrial hub of Sicily.

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However, after the destruction of World War II, Catania's economy began to re-grow in the late-1950s and early-1960s.

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Sea port of Catania is linked to the road-rail distribution hub of Bologna.

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Catania is home to the prestigious Istituto Musicale Vincenzo Bellini an advanced institute of musical studies and the Accademia di Belle Arti an advanced institute of artistic studies.

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Catania became the greatest writer of Verismo, an Italian literary movement akin to Naturalism.

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Catania's novels portray life among the lower levels of Sicilian society, such as fishermen and stonemasons, and were written in a mixture of both literary language and local dialect.

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Catania is home to many sports clubs covering a wide range of disciplines.

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Catania is the most successful city in Team Sports in the entire South Italy, leading (as of October 2021) with 68 National Championships titles and 9 European Champions Cups titles, ahead of Naples (55 National Championships titles and 5 European Champions Cups titles) and of Bari (17 National Championships titles).

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Catania holds the Catania-Etna car competition, organized by the Automobile Club d'Italia.

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City hosted a series of International Sports Events: in 1992 Catania hosted the first ever qualification tournament for the Rugby World Cup Sevens, and the associated Etna Cup, which was won by the host Sicily team.

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In 1997 Catania hosted, together with Palermo and Messina, the Universiade.

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In 2011 Catania hosted the World Fencing Championships: Italy came out of this competition as the top winning nation with 11 medals, one won by the local fencer Paolo Pizzo.

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Arancini are perhaps the city's most iconic one: they are stuffed rice balls coated in bread-crumbs and deep fried; in Catania, they are shaped like a cone to remind of Mount Etna.

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Apart from street food, typical dishes from Catania are: pasta alla Norma, named after the namesake opera by Vincenzo Bellini; (pasta in cuttlefish ink), (fava beans puree), or (stewed cauliflower or broccoli), (sauteed vegetables) and (a pie filled with tuma cheese) which is traditional during Christmastime.

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