Catania is an Italian city on the east coast of Sicily facing the Ionian Sea, between Messina and Syracuse. It is the capital of the eponymous province, and with 298,957 inhabitants (752,895 in the Metropolitan Area) it is the second-largest city in Sicily and the tenth in Italy.
Catania is known to have a seismic history and past, having been destroyed by a catastrophic earthquake in 1169, another in 1693, and several volcanic eruptions from the neighbouring Mount Etna volcano, the most violent of which in 1669.
The Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Normans, the Byzantines, the Swabians and the Aragons all met and clashed here, leaving profound traces of their cultures.
Catania has had a long and eventful history, having been founded in the 8th century BC. In the 14th century and the Renaissance, Catania was one of Italy’s most important and flourishing cultural, artistic and political centres, including having witnessed the opening in 1434 of the first University in Sicily.
The significance of the city in Sicily, thus, earned itself the commonly associated name “Athens of Sicily”.Today, Catania is one of the main economic, touristic and educational centres in the island, being an important hub of the technological industry, thus gaining the nickname of the “European Silicon Valley”.