Catania On the RoadCatania, Italy
Almost anywhere in Catania, you can glimpse the massive Mount Etna off in the distance. With smoke seeping through its peak, the mountain is still an active volcano, a slumbering giant awaiting its next eruption. In fact, the city has been buried by lava a total of seven times in its recorded history. But no need to worry: in the course of your stay, expect no more than a wonderful view of the mountain. After all, the Sicilians have been living in its shadow for centuries.
The city is rich in Roman history as well, including two Roman amphitheaters. One was built upon an earlier Greek theater and is said to have accommodated as many as 6,000 spectators. The other amphitheater is a vast complex that probably seated about 14,000 spectators, although only a small part is actually visible today. With its vast underground network of passages and alcoves, the structure is reminiscent of the Roman Colosseum.
Catania is a young and vibrant city, largely due to its large university, the first in Sicily. Over the last decade, the city has seen an explosion in nightlife. A little over ten years ago, the city streets were practically deserted by night, but now, thanks to more permissive licensing, restaurants, cafes and bars are open quite late. In the summer time especially, the main streets are packed elbow-to-elbow every night. It's a city also know for it's creative scene, from music to theater. In fact, Catania is the Italian city with the highest number of theaters per square kilometer.
Being a central point in the Mediterranean, Sicily has fallen under the hands of many empires and rulers throughout its history. This varied past brings a great diversity to the island today. If you've been to the north of Italy or even to Rome and think you know the whole story, expect to be pleasantly suprised. It's an island with a culture all its own.