Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Catania (anc. Catana), an ancient port on the east coast of Sicily, at the foot of Etna, and 30 miles north-west of Syracuse. Owing to its excellent harbour and charming situation the city has been thrice rebuilt after destruction by eruptions of Etna. Founded in 730 B.C. by Chalcidians from Naxos, it remained independent until taken by Hiero, and colonised by Syracusans. The original settlers returned, however, and were not finally driven out till the victory of Dionysius in 403 B.C. In the first Punic war Catania at once surrendered to Rome, and appears to have been faithful. It fell into the hands of the Goths and was rescued by Belisarius. The Saracens sacked the town, and the Normans raised it almost to its former preeminence. In 1169, 1669, and 1693 it suffered terribly from earthquakes and irruptions of lava. The streets are well paved and spacious and the private houses remarkably handsome, whilst few cities can boast finer public buildings. The cathedral, originally founded by Roger of Normandy (1094), the university (1445), and the town-hall, form the sides of a great square. Among many monasteries (now suppressed) the chief is San Nicolo, covering 21 acres, with a noble church and a famous organ. There are about 100 places of public worship, and many asylums, hospitals, and other institutions. It is the seat of a bishopric and the residence of the grand prior of the Order of Malta. A large trade is done in exporting sulphur, grain, fruits, macaroni, olives, and in manufacturing silk, linen, and ornaments of lava and amber. The harbour has been recently enlarged.