Castello Ursino

Castello Ursino

Castello Ursino

Frederick II wanted its construction between 1239 and 1250: the Castle was part of a defensive project of Sicilian eastern coasts and rose on a promontory surrounded by the sea.

Riccardo da Lentini conceived and achieved the project; the Castle became the symbol of imperial power and authority.

Because of the 1669 eruption, the lava flowing south of the castle, where today rises the neighbourhood “AngeliCustodi”, towards the sea, surrounded the building with magma on both sides and filled the moats and reduced the “apparent” height from the new planking level. The bases of the “flared” towers disappeared and only 20 years ago they were brought back to light.

The lava, whose front was about 800-900 metres long, poured out into the sea outstanding the building and a new strip of land was created, and since then the Castle has not overlooked the sea anymore.

The museum stores the collections of the Benedictine Monastery, part of that of Biscari prince and part of those given by the baron Zappalà-Asmundo.

Teatro Massimo Bellini

Massimo Bellini Theatre

Massimo Bellini Theater

The neo-baroque facade is inspired on the classical style of Sansovino in Venice National Marcian Library. The rest of the building is different on the side parts and has the shape of a theatre.

The four-order-box room over the gallery is highly decorated and is one of the most beautiful of those built in the nineteenth century in Italy. The ceiling is frescoed by the painter Ernesto Bellandi with Bellini’s apotheosis and the allegories of his most known works: Norma, La sonnambula, I puritani and Il pirata.

The historical curtain shows the “Vittoria dei catanesi sui libici” and is painted by the local painter Giuseppe Sciuti. In the large elegant marble foyer, is remarkable Bellini’s bronze statue, by Salvo Giordano.

Piazza dell’ Università

Piazza Università

Piazza Università

Piazza dell’ Università is located in Catania, along Via Etnea, less than one hundred metres far from Piazza Duomo and is one of the most scenic squares of Catania historic centre.

It dates back at least to 1696 when, on the west side, Palazzo dell’ Università was built after the destructions of the 1693 earthquake. The building project was made by several architects – Francesco and Antonino Battaglia and Giovanni Battista Vaccarini are but a few.

Teatro Romano

Roman Theatre

Roman Theater

Nestled between via Teatro Greco and via Vittorio Emanuele, rise the Roman Theatre and the Odeon. It is supposed that the construction of the theatre, which could gather up to 7000 people, dates back to the second century A.D., and that it was built over a pre-existing Greek structure in the old acropolis of Catania.

Within an 80-metre diameter, the orchestra, the cavea (built on large vaulted corridors) and some parts of the scene may still be seen. In 1908 Count Roger I wanted the theatre to be deprived of its marble and stones, so that Saint Agathe Cathedral could be more quickly built.

Findings of the seventeenth century excavations are stored in the Museo Comunale. Because of several eruptions and earthquakes, the ground level dropped and today the Amenano, an underground river flows through the lower part, especially in the orchestra area, so that contemporary performances cannot be played.

Villa Bellini

Villa Bellini

Villa Bellini

In via Etnea, close to the Post Office building, you may find Villa Bellini, a public garden park, considered as one of the most beautiful in Europe. Entitled to the famous local composer Vincenzo Bellini, the garden belonged to the princes Paternò Castello di Biscari until the early eighteenth century and it was characterized by a garden called “Labyrinth” because of its intertwined alleys.

In 1854, the municipality owned the park: many works were commissioned to professionals, whose competitive spirits blocked them and then finally the architect Ignazio Landolina turned the garden from a private residence into a public park.
The works ended in 1883 and the park was opened to citizenship.

“The gardens of Villa Bellini are home to beautiful old trees and hundreds of exotic plants, the avenues are adorned with statues and busts of famous people”.

Piazza Duomo

Piazza Duomo

Piazza Duomo

Piazza Duomo is Catania main square. Three streets here converge: via Etna, the historical city route, via Giuseppe Garibaldi and via Vittorio Emanuele, which crosses it from east to west. On the eastern corner of the square rises the Duomo, dedicated to Saint Agathe, whose celebrations take place on the 5th February.

On the North corner you may find Palazzo degli Elefanti, the town hall. On the other side of the square are the Amenano fountain, which is famous for coins being thrown in and Palazzo dei Chierici, connected to the Duomo with a passage on the Uzeda Gate. You may enter the terraces of Palazzo dei Chierici and of Uzed Gate

palazzo del Seminario dei Chierici e di porta Uzeda si può accedere dal Museo diocesano di Catania che ha sede nel palazzo del Seminario dei Chierici attiguo alla Cattedrale.

From the terraces you can admire two splendid panoramas: on one side, the spectacle of Piazza del Duomo in Catania with the Elephant fountain and Via Etnea with Mount Etna in the background; on the other, the walls of Charles V, the port of Catania with the arches of the Marina up to the Ursino castle. The door of Charles V is part of the only remaining part of the city walls.