Catania, situated on Sicily’s east coast, has been buried under lava from Mount Etna seven times and rose each time like a phoenix from the ashes. This, coupled with the Sicilian melting-pot of cultures from Greek, Roman and Byzantine occupation in ancient times to French and Spanish rule during the Renaissance, makes the city a fascinating destination. Sicily’s first university opened here in 1434.
UNESCO awarded the city’s Baroque centre the status of a World Heritage Site. There are countless Greek and Roman sites to visit and Baroque churches and palaces to sample. Don’t miss the city’s emblematic monument dating from 1736, the Fontane dell’ Elefante, a comical black lava statue of a smiling elephant topped by a white obelisk. Also known as U Liotro in Sicilian, the statue stands in Piazza del’ Duomo.