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September 19, 2008


Trapani (Tràpani in Sicilian) is a city on the west coast of Sicily in Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Trapani. Founded by Elymians, the city is still an important fishing port and the main gateway to the nearby Egadi Islands.

Trapani was founded by the Elymians to serve as the port of the nearby city of Erice (ancient Eryx), which overlooks it from Monte San Giuliano. The city sits on a low-lying promontory jutting out into the Mediterranean Sea. It was originally named Drépanon from the Greek word for "sickle", because of the curving shape of its harbour. Carthage seized control of the city in 260 BC, subsequently making it an important naval base, but ceded it to Rome in 241 BC following the Battle of the Aegates in the First Punic War.
Two ancient legends tell of mythical origins for the city. In the first legend, Trapani stemmed from the sickle which fell from the hands of the goddess Demeter while she was seeking for her daughter Persephone, who had been kidnapped by Hades. The second myth features Saturn, god of the sky, who eviscerated his father Cronus with a sickle which, falling into the sea, created the city. In ancient times Saturn was the god-protector of Trapani. Today Saturn's statue stands in a piazza in the centre of the city.
The city was badly damaged during World War II when it was subjected to intense Allied bombardments. It has grown greatly since the end of the war, sprawling out virtually to the foot of Monte San Giuliano. Tourism has grown in recent years due to the city's proximity to popular destinations such as Erice, Segesta and the Egadi Islands.

Much of Trapani's economy still depends on the sea. Fishing and canning are an important local industries, with fishermen using the mattanza technique to catch tuna. Coral is also an important export, along with salt, marble and marsala wine. The nearby coast is lined with numerous salt-pans.
The city is also an important ferry port, with links to the Egadi Islands, Pantelleria, Sardinia and Tunisia, and an airport, Trapani Birgi.


Much of the old town of Trapani dates from the later medieval or early modern periods; there are no extant remains of the ancient city. Many of the city's historic buildings are designed in the Baroque style. Notable monuments include:
The Church of Sant'Agostino (14th century, with the splendid rose-window
The Church of Santa Maria di Gesù (15th century-16th century)
The magnificent Basilica-Sanctuary of Maria Santissima Annunziata (also called "Madonna di Trapani") originally built in 1315–1332 and rebuilt in 1760. It houses a marble statue of the Madonna of Trapani, which might be the work of Nino Pisano, and with the important museum "Agostino Pepoli".
Fontana di Tritone (Triton's Fountain)
The Baroque Palazzo della Giudecca or Casa Ciambra
The Cathedral (1635)
The city is renowned for its Easter procession, The Misteri, when the town's guilds parade a groups of sculpted 17th century and 18th century religious statues through the streets in a procession lasting for 16 hours on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.


Catania (Greek: Κατάνη – Katánē; Latin: Catăna and Catĭna; Arabic: Balad-al-Fil or Medinat-al-Fil, Wadi Musa and Qataniyah) 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 on the island.

Siculian Prehistory
The ancient population of Sicels were wont to found and denominate their cities and villages choosing between geographical connotations and peculiar attributes of the locations they discovered and peopled.The Siculian word "Katane" signifies "grater, flaying knife, skinning place or even a crude tool apt to pare". This term was immediately adopted by the new Greek colonists to rename the preexistent indigenous place which already had a like epithet. Further acceptations for this locution are: harsh lands, uneven ground, sharp stones, rugged or rough soil.
Such last variety of senses is easily justifiable since in the centuries the Metropolis of Etna has always been rebuilt and set inside its typical black lavic landscape.

Chalcidian Colony of the Sicilian Naxos
Around 729 BC, the archaic village of Katane became the Chalcidian colony of Katánē where all the native population was bound to be rapidly assimilated and Hellenized. The Naxian founders, coming from the close coast, will make use of the primal autochthonal name for their new settlement along the River Amenanus.

Roman Empire
Around 263 BC, the Etnean Decuman City was far-famed as Catĭna and Catăna.
The former has been primarily utilized for a supposed assonance with "catina", namely the Latin feminization of the vocable "catinus". Catinus hides, in fact, two main values: "a gulf, a basin, a bay" and "a bowl, a vessel, a trough". Both explications may be admissible thanks to the city’s distinctive trait and topography. Catania has constantly abutted on the waters of its vast homonymous Gulf, and besides she has always been reconstructed without having to fear of growing on the blackish asperities of the acuminate slopes of Etna.

Arab Conquest of Sicily
Around 900 AD, the Saracenic Dominance gave rise to Balad-Al-Fil and Medinat-Al-Fil, the two official Catania's Arabic appellatives. The first translates "The Village or The Country of the Elephant" and the second is simply and proudly "The City of the Elephant". The Elephant is the lavic one of Piazza Duomo’s Fountain, probably just a prehistorical sculpture reforged in Byzantine Era, an idolatrised talisman that was reputed capable to protect the city from any sort of enemies and powerful enough to keep away misfortune, plagues or natural calamities.
The Moslem Conquerors accepted this pachydermical protection deciding to name after it the vanquished town. Today's name stems from an Arab toponym. Qatanyiah are literally "the leguminous plants" (in Arab "Qataniyy"), whose feminized collective suffix is "yiah".
Pulses like lentils, beans, peas, broad beans and lupins were chiefly cultivated in the Catanian Plain before the arrival of Aghlabites' soldiery from Tunisia.
Afterwards, many Islamic Agronomists will be the principal boosters and those who overcropped the citruses orchards in the greater part of Sicily's ploughlands.
Lastly, Wadi Musa intends the River or the Valley of Moses that is to say the sometime Arab name of the Symaethus River, but this denomination was rarely associated to pinpoint the seat of the then Emirate of Catania.

Catania is located on the east coast of the island, at the foot of the active volcano Mount Etna. The position of Catania at the foot of Mount Etna was the source, as Strabo remarks, both of benefits and evils to the city. For on the one hand, the violent outbursts of the volcano from time to time desolated great parts of its territory; on the other, the volcanic ashes produced a soil of great fertility, adapted especially for the growth of vines. (Strab. vi. p. 269.) Under the city run the river Amenano, visible in just one point, south of Piazza Duomo and the river Longane or Lognina.


All ancient authors agree in representing Catania as a Greek colony named Κατάνη (Katánē—see also List of traditional Greek place names) of Chalcidic origin, but founded immediately from the neighboring city of Naxos, under the guidance of a leader named Euarchos (Euarchus).
The exact date of its foundation is not recorded, but it appears from Thucydides to have followed shortly after that of Leontini (modern Lentini), which he places in the fifth year after Syracuse, or 730 BCE. (Thuc. vi. 3; Strabo vi. p. 268; Scymn. Ch. 286; Scyl. § 13; Steph. B. s. v.)

Greek Sicily
The only event of its early history which has been transmitted to us is the legislation of Charondas, and even of this the date is wholly uncertain.
But from the fact that his legislation was extended to the other Chalcidic cities, not only of Sicily, but of Magna Graecia also, as well as to his own country (Arist., Pol. ii. 9), it is evident that Catania continued in intimate relations with these kindred cities.
It seems to have retained its independence till the time of Hieron of Syracuse, but that despot, in 476 BCE, expelled all the original inhabitants, whom he established at Leontini, while he repeopled the city with a new body of colonists, amounting, it is said, to not less than 10,000 in number, and consisting partly of Syracusans, partly of Peloponnesians.
He at the same time changed its name to Αἴτνη (Aítnē, Aetna or Ætna, after the nearby Mount Etna, an activevolcano), and caused himself to be proclaimed the Oekist or founder of the new city. As such he was celebrated by Pindar, and after his death obtained heroic honors from the citizens of his new colony. (Diod. xi. 49, in 66; Strab. l.c.; Pind. Pyth. i., and Schol. ad loc.)
But this state of things was of brief duration, and a few years after the death of Hieron and the expulsion of Thrasybulus, the Syracusans combined with Ducetius, king of the Siculi, to expel the newly settled inhabitants of Catania, who were compelled to retire to the fortress of Inessa (to which they gave the name of Aetna), while the old Chalcidic citizens were reinstated in the possession of Catania, 461 BCE. (Diod. xi. 76; Strab. l. c.)
The period which followed the settlement of affairs at this epoch appears to have been one of great prosperity for Catania, as well as for the Sicilian cities in general: but we have no details of its history till the great Athenian expedition to Sicily (part of the larger Peloponnesian War).
On that occasion the Catanaeans, notwithstanding their Chalcidic connections, at first refused to receive the Athenians into their city: but the latter having effected an entrance, they found themselves compelled to espouse the alliance of the invaders, and Catania became in consequence the headquarters of the Athenian armament throughout the first year of the expedition, and the base of their subsequent operations against Syracuse. (Thuc. vi. 50-52, 63, 71, 89; Diod. xiii. 4, 6, 7; Plut. Nic. 15, 16.)
We have no information as to the fate of Catania after the close of this expedition: it is next mentioned in 403 BCE, when it fell into the power of Dionysius I of Syracuse, who sold the inhabitants as slaves, and gave up the city to plunder; after which he established there a body of Campanian mercenaries.
These, however, quit it again in 396 BCE, and retired to Aetna, on the approach of the great Carthaginian armament under Himilco and Mago. The great sea-fight in which the latter defeated Leptines, the brother of Dionysius, was fought immediately off Catania, and the city apparently[weasel words] fell, in consequence, into the hands of the Carthaginians. (Diod. xiv. 15, 58, 60.)
But we have no account of its subsequent fortunes, nor does it appear who constituted its new population; it is only certain that it continued to exist. Callippus, the assassin of Dion, when he was expelled from Syracuse, for a time held possession of Catania (Plut. Dion. 58); and when Timoleon landed in Sicily we find it subject to a despot named Mamercus, who at first joined the Corinthian leader but afterwards abandoned his alliance for that of the Carthaginians, and was in consequence attacked and expelled by Timoleon. (Diod. xvi. 69; Plut. Timol. 13, 30-34.)
Catania was now restored to liberty, and appears to have continued to retain its independence; during the wars of Agathocles with the Carthaginians, it sided at one time with the former, at others with the latter; and when Pyrrhus landed in Sicily, Catania was the first to open its gates to him, and received him with the greatest magnificence. (Diod. xix. 110, xxii. 8, Exc. Hoesch. p. 496.)

Roman Rule
In the First Punic War, Catania was one of the first among the cities of Sicily, which made their submission to the Roman Republic, after the first successes of their arms in 263 BC. (Eutrop. ii. 19.) The expression of Pliny (vii. 60) who represents it as having been taken by Valerius Messala, is certainly a mistake.
It appears to have continued afterwards steadily to maintain its friendly relations with Rome, and though it did not enjoy the advantages of a confederate city (foederata civitas), like its neighbors Tauromenium (modern Taormina) and Messana (modern Messina), it rose to a position of great prosperity under the Roman rule.
Cicero repeatedly mentions it as, in his time, a wealthy and flourishing city; it retained its ancient municipal institutions, its chief magistrate bearing the title of Proagorus; and appears to have been one of the principal ports of Sicily for the export of corn. (Cic. Verr. iii. 4. 3, 83, iv. 23, 45; Liv. xxvii. 8.)
It subsequently suffered severely from the ravages of Sextus Pompeius, and was in consequence one of the cities to which a colony was sent by Augustus; a measure that appears to have in a great degree restored its prosperity, so that in Strabo's time it was one of the few cities in the island that was in a flourishing condition. (Strab. vi. pp. 268, 270, 272; Dion Cass. iv. 7.)
It retained its colonial rank, as well as its prosperity, throughout the period of the Roman Empire; so that in the 4th century Ausonius in his Ordo Nobilium Urbium, notices Catania and Syracuse alone among the cities of Sicily. (Plin. iii. 8. s. 14; Ptol. iii. 4. § 9; Itin. Ant. pp. 87,90, 93, 94).

Locational Significance
One of the most serious eruptions of Etna happened in 121 BCE, when great part of Catania was overwhelmed by streams of lava, and the hot ashes fell in such quantities in the city itself, as to break in the roofs of the houses.
Catania was in consequence exempted, for 10 years, from its usual contributions to the Roman state. (Oros. v. 13.) The greater part of the broad tract of plain to the southwest of Catania (now called the Piana di Catania, a district of great fertility), appears to have belonged, in ancient times, to Leontini or Centuripa (modern Centuripe), but that portion of it between Catana itself and the mouth of the Symaethus, was annexed to the territory of the latter city, and must have furnished abundant supplies of corn.
The port of Catania also, which was in great part filled up by the eruption of 1669, appears to have been in ancient times much frequented, and was the chief place of export for the corn of the rich neighboring plains. The little river Amenanus, or Amenas, which flowed through the city, was a very small stream, and could never have been navigable.

Catania's Renown in Antiquity
Catania was the birth-place of the philosopher and legislator Charondas; it was also the place of residence of the poet Stesichorus, who died there, and was buried in a magnificent sepulchre outside one of the gates, which derived from thence the name of Porta Stesichoreia. (Suda, under Στησίχορος.)
Xenophanes, the philosopher of Elea, also spent the latter years of his life there (Diog. Laert. ix. 2. § 1), so that it was evidently, at an early period, a place of cultivation and refinement.
The first introduction of dancing to accompany the flute, was also ascribed to Andron, a citizen of Catania (Athen. i. p. 22, c.); and the first sundial that was set up in the Roman forum was carried thither by Valerius Messala from Catania, 263 BCE. (Varr. ap. Plin. vii. 60.)
But few associations connected with Catania were more celebrated in ancient times than the Legend of the Pii Fratres, Amphinomus and Anapias, who, on occasion of a great eruption of Etna, abandoned all their property, and carried off their aged parents on their shoulders, the stream of lava itself was said to have parted, and flowed aside so as not to harm them.
Statues were erected to their honor, and the place of their burial was known as the Campus Piorum; the Catanaeans even introduced the figures of the youths on their coins, and the legend became a favorite subject of allusion and declamation among the Latin poets, of whom the younger Lucilius and Claudian have dwelt upon it at considerable length.
The occurrence is referred by Hyginus to the first eruption of Etna that took place after the settlement of Catania. (Strab. vi. p. 269; Paus. x. 28. § 4; Conon, Narr. 43; Philostr. Vit. Apoll. v. 17; Solin. 5. § 15; Hygin. 254; Val. Max. v. 4. Ext. § 4; Lucil. Aetn. 602-40; Claudian. Idyll. 7; Sil. Ital. xiv. 196; Auson. Ordo Nob. Urb. 11.)

From the Fall of the Roman Empire to Unification of Italy

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Catania, like the rest of Sicily, became subject of various dominations by a series of Empires, dynasties and populations:
The Byzantine domination from VI c. to IX c.
The Arabic domination from IX c. to XI c.
The Norman domination from XI c. to XII c.
The Swabian domination from XII c. to XIII. c.
The Angevin domination during the XIII c.
The Aragonese domination from XIII c. to XV c.
The Spanish domination from XV. c. to XVIII. c
The Sabaudian domination during the XVIII c.
The Austrian domination during the XVIII c.
The Borbonic domination from XVIII c. up to the Unification of Italy (1861)
In 1693 the city was completely destroyed by earthquakes and by lava flows which ran over and around it into the sea. The city was then rebuilt in the precious baroque architecture that nowadays enjoys.

Catania in Unified Italy

In 1860 General Garibaldi freed Sicily putting an end to fourteen centuries of foreign domination, and since 1861 Catania is a free city of Italy, whose history it shares since then.
After World War II, and the constitution of Italian Republic (1946), the history of Catania is, like the history of other cities of Southern Italy, an attempt to catch up with the economic and social development of the richer Northern Italy and to solve the problems that for historic reasons plague the south of Italy, namely a heavy gap in industrial development and infrastructures, and the presence of criminal organisations.
This notwithstanding, Catania during the 60s (and partly during the 90s) enjoyed a great development and an economic, social and cultural effervescence.
In the last years, Catania economy and social development somewhat faltered and in these years the city is facing economic and social stagnation.

The comuni forming the Metropolitan Area are:
Aci Bonaccorsi
Aci Castello
Aci Catena
Aci Sant'Antonio
Camporotondo Etneo
Gravina di Catania
Motta Sant'Anastasia
San Giovanni la Punta
San Gregorio di Catania
San Pietro Clarenza
Sant'Agata li Battiati
Santa Maria di Licodia
Santa Venerina
Tremestieri Etneo
Zafferana Etnea
These comuni form a system with the centre of Catania sharing its economical and social life and forming an organic urban texture.
The Metropolitan Area of Catania has not to be confounded with the Province of Catania, a far broader area that counts 58 comuni and 1,081,915 inhabitants,[2] but which does not form an urban system with the city.

As of December 2007, there are 298,597 people residing in Catania,[2] of whom 47.2% are male and 52.8% are female. Minors (children age 18 and younger) totalled 20.50 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 18.87 percent. This compares with the Italian average of 18.06 percent (minors) and 19.94 percent (pensioners).
The average age of Catania residents is 41 compared to the Italian average of 42. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the population of Catania declined by 3.35 percent, while Italy as a whole grew by 3.85 percent.[2] The reason of this population decline in the Comune di Catania is mainly to be attributed to population leaving the city centre to go to live in the up-town residential areas of the comuni of the Metropolitan Area. As a result of this, while the population in the comune di Catania declines, the population of the hinterland comuni increases making the overall population of the Metropolitan area of Catania increase.[2]
The current birth rate of Catania is 10.07 births per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 9.45 births. As of 2006, 98.03% of the population was Italian. The largest immigrant group came from sub-saharan Africa: 0.69%, South Asia: 0.46%, and from other European countries (particularly from Ukraine and Poland): 0.33%. Catania is almost entirely Roman Catholic.

Catania's Escutcheon
The symbol of the city is u Liotru, or the Fontana dell'Elefante, and was assembled in 1736 by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. It is made of marble portraying an ancient lavic elephant and surmounted by an Egyptian obelisk from Syene. Tall tale has it that Vaccarini's original elephant was neuter, which the men of Catania took as an insult to their virility. To appease them, Vaccarini appended appropriately elephantine testicles to the original statue.
The Sicilian name u Liotru is the deformation of the name Heliodorus who was a sorcerer and necromancer from Catania. He was a nobleman who, after trying without success to become bishop of the city, became a sorcerer and was therefore condemned to the stake. Legend has it that Heliodorus himself was the sculptor of the lava elephant and that he used to magically rode it in his travels from Catania to Costantinople. Another legend has it that Heliodorus could be capable of transforming himself into an elephant.
A similar sculpture is in Piazza Santa Maria della Minerva in Rome. Catania's coat of arms is a red elephant on a light-blue field with an "A" (Agatha's initial or the first letter of Aetna) set higher above its back.

Elephant's Tutelage
The folk presence of an elephant in the millenary history of Catania is mainly connected to both zooarcheology and popular creeds.
In the Upper Paleolithic, in fact, the prehistoric fauna of Sicily enumerated a host of dwarf elephants.
The Catanian Museum of Mineralogy, Paleonthology and Vulcanology takes care of the integral unburied skeleton of an elephas falconeri in an excellent state of conservation. The primitive inhabiters of Etna and whilom forefathers of the latter-day Catanians, molded such lavic artifact to idolize the mythical proboscidian they had considered the sole responsible of the resolutive ejection of all the vexing animals from the volcanic territories.
This venerated black sculpture survived the centuries to outlast till today. It is doubtless the most ancient Catania's monument, followed by the Syenian obelisk positioned on its spine.
In the official heraldry its scarfskin became red to recollect the colour of the ardent lava. But the most-told occurrence that will be fundamental to radicate this kind of affection for the beloved Liotru is on the other hand strictly due to the local and documented legend of the "magician" Heliodorus.

Civic Mottoes
The two most recurrent Latin mottoes of Catania are readable on the marble tags set on the baroque prospect of the monumental Triumphal Arch of Piazza Palestro whose name is "Porta Garibaldi" (Garibaldi Gate) but also "Porta Ferdinandea" (Ferdinandean Gate).
They still recite:"Melior De Cinere Surgo" (I Arise Better My From Ashes) and "Armis Decoratur, Litteris Armatur" (Adorned with Weapons, Armed with Letters).
The first underlines the interchange down the ages between its unforeseen destructions and the gradual and successive reconstructions, comparing such cyclicities of sudden ruinations and consequent rebirths to the legend of the mythical Phoenix, the fiery creature perennially fated to upspring anew from its own embers. This firebird is, in fact, sculpted atop the archway of the forenamed structure.
The second simply wants to emphasize the role of cultural and University hub for the whole Sicily from Middle Ages till modern times.
Several "stylized armaments" were largely reproduced and utilized as ornaments or architectural elements to bedight the fronts of the main noblemen's mansions.



Catania: Ruins of Greek-Roman theater with the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi nigh The Immaculate (S.Francesco d'Assisi all'Immacolata)

Catania: Roman Amphitheatre in Stesichorus Square

Catania: Terme dell'Indirizzo - The Guidance's Thermæ
The city has been buried by lava a total of seven times in recorded history, and in layers under the present day city are the Roman city that preceded it, and the Greek city before that. Many of the ancient monuments of the Roman city have been destroyed by the numerous seisms. Currently, remains of the following buildings can be seen:
The Greek-Roman Theatre (2nd century)
The Odeon (3rd century CE)
The Catanian Amphitheatre (2nd century)
The Greek Acropolis of Mountvirgin's Hill (Collina di Montevergine)
The Roman Aqueduct's Ruins
The Roman Forum in Piazza San Pantaleone
Roman ruins in Cortile Archirotti
Several Christian basilicas, hypogea, Roman burial monuments and Catacombs in some urban areas.
The Roman Columns in Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini
Roman structures:
The Achillean Thermæ • Terme Achilliane or Terme Achillee
The remains of the monumental complex are beneath Piazza Duomo.Its underground bounds underlie almost all the buildings established on the surface: the Cathedral Church, the former seat of the Clerics' Seminary, the Elephant's Fountain, the Archbishop's See and the bordering angles of the Senatorial Palace.They are also the place where the earthly life of the sorcerer Heliodorus was surceased by St.Leo of Catania.
The "Thaumaturgus" drew this devil's mate in its inside to jump with him into a pyre that he had ordered to prepare. Both were clutched by the flames.
But while the godless fiend began burning to ashes at once, the Wonder Worker's figure came out slowly and miraculously unharmed, with his Sacred Paraments intact and undamaged. This fact should have happened in 778 AD while Saint Leo's death will befall exactly nine years later in 787 AD.
The thermae's access is made easier by a little adit opening on the right side of Saint Agatha's front. Through the use of a modern stairs, the visitors can pass across a 2,50 m barrel-vaulted corridor . This passageway guides in its innermost part, a rectangular ample area measuring 12x13m, formed by a wide hall with four pillars bearing the overhead ceiling .In past times these old columns were bedecked with stuccoes representing handful of younkers and bacchantes, animals and clusters of grapes. The most part of these beautiful decorations have been irremediably lost along the centuries.
This has induced the local archaeologists to identify the surrounding zone with the Balnea Bacchi or Roman Baths of Bacchus. Several rooms are actually situated northward, rightward and southward the aforesaid atrium.
The adjective Achillean is attested by a Greek inscription, recovered in pieces in different epochs. It furnishes the current denomination and it describes the complessive remaking works and the contemporary repairing of the heating's distribution system. According to the appointments of the whilom consuls in charge the refurbishment is datable to the period around 434 AD.However, the exact datation of the real edification is still unknown. They were supplied by the nearby waters of the Amenanus which keeps running in the thereabouts.
With regard to the name, many scholars uphold that its main entrance contained a marble reproduction of Achilles towering above the regular patrons. But probably, the most correct explication is motivated instead for the presence along the inward perimeter of lance-armed statues of muscled nude men that were apostrophed as the Achilleae Statuae.Pliny the Elder has cited this sort of sculptures in his Natural History to refer to the idolatry and cultural habits towards the Thessalian Hero.
Saint Mary of Guidance's Thermal Baths • Terme dell'Indirizzo
Immured in a school courtyard, they are located behind the Church of Saint Mary of Guidance whose entitlement is commonly adopted for their easier and generic identification.
Saint Mary of Itria's Thermal Baths • Terme dell'Itria
Saint Mary of the Rotunda's Thermal Baths • Terme della Rotonda
The Four Quoin's Thermæ • Terme dei Quattro Canti

Catania: Via Etnea-Quattro Canti - Etnean Street and one of the Four Quoins
They lie under the street mantle of Via Etnea - the main thoroughfare of the city - in the point of intersection with the uphill Via Antonino Paternò Castello di Sangiuliano. This viary conjunction creates a scenographical and monumental quadrangle that gave rise to the name assigned to this crossroads. The exact center of convergence of these two arteries is the cradle of the city's baroque reëdification carried out by the Noble Superintendent Giuseppe Lanza, Duke of Camastra.In 1694 he was appointed by the Viceroy Juan Francisco Pacheco de Uceda,representing the Spanish Government, to accomplish the urban uprise after the apocalyptic earthquake of 1693.
The aristocratic Palace of the family Massa di San Demetrio was the first construction of Catania to be rebuilt from the smoking rubbles. Thenceforth, the four prospects designing this rhomboidal square are always the same:the aforecited abode, other two baroque dwellings and the sideward flank of a religious cloister.
Palazzo Asmundo's Thermæ • Terme di Palazzo Asmundo
University's Thermæ • Terme del Palazzo dell'Università
Casa Gagliano's Thermæ • Terme di Casa Gagliano
Saint Anthony Abbot's Thermæ • Terme della Chiesa di Sant'Antonio Abate

Baroque and Historical Churches
The baroque city centre of Catania is a UNESCO Wold Heritage Site

Basilica di San Nicola l'Arena • Basilica of St. Nicholas the Arena

San Placido • Saint Placid

Badìa di Sant'Agata • St. Agatha's Abbey

San Francesco d'Assisi all'Immacolata • St. Francis of Assisi nigh The Immaculate

Sant'Agata alla Fornace or San Biagio • St. Agatha by the Furnace or St. Blaise

Santa Maria dell'Aiuto • Marian Sanctuary of St. Mary of Help

San Benedetto da Norcia • St. Benedict of Nursia

San Francesco Borgia • St. Francis Borgia
Saint Agatha's Cathedral • Duomo di Sant'Agata (1070-1093)
Saint Agatha's Abbey • Badìa di Sant'Agata (1620)
Saint Placid • Chiesa di San Placido
Saint Joseph by the Dome • Chiesa di San Giuseppe al Duomo
Most Holy Sacrament by the Dome • Chiesa del Santissimo Sacramento al Duomo
Saint Martin of the White Garbs • Chiesa di San Martino dei Bianchi
Saint Agatha the Eldest • Chiesa di Sant'Agata la Vetere (254)
Saint Agatha by the Furnace or Saint Blaise • Chiesa di Sant'Agata alla Fornace or San Biagio (1098, rebuilt in 1700)
Saint Prison's Church or Saint Agatha in Jail • Chiesa del Santo Carcere or Sant'Agata al Carcere (1760)
Saint Francis of Assisi nigh the Immaculate (Chiesa di San Francesco d'Assisi all' Immacolata) , housing the mortal remains of Queen Eleanor of Sicily. (1329)
Saint Benedict of Nursia • Chiesa di San Benedetto di Norcia (1704-1713)
Great Abbey and Little Abbey of Benedictine Nuns' Cloister • Badìa Grande e Badìa Piccola del Chiostro delle Monache Benedettine
Benedictine Nuns' Arch • Arco delle Monache Benedettine
Saint Mary of Alms' Collegiate Basilica (early 18th century).
The Basilica Collegiata di Santa Maria dell'Elemosina is on the Latin cross plan with a nave and two aisles. The high altar has a Madonna icon, probably of Byzantine manufacture.
Saint Mary of Ogninella • Chiesa di Santa Maria dell'Ogninella
Saint Michael the Lesser • Chiesa di San Michele Minore
Saint Michael Archangel or Minorites' Church • San Michele Archangelo or Chiesa dei Minoriti
Saint Julian • Chiesa di San Giuliano
Saint Julian's Monastery • Monastero di San Giuliano
Saint Teresa • Chiesa di Santa Teresa
Saint Francis Borgia or Jesuits' Church • San Francesco Borgia or Chiesa dei Gesuiti
Convent of the Jesuits • Convento dei Gesuiti
Saint Mary of Jesus • Chiesa di Santa Maria di Gesù (1465, restored in 1706)
Saint Dominic or Saint Mary the Great • Chiesa di San Domenico or Santa Maria la Grande (1224)
Dominicans' Friary • Monastero dei Domenicani (1224)
Saint Mary of Purity or Saint Mary of Visitation • Chiesa di Santa Maria della Purità or Chiesa della Visitazione (1775)
Madonna of Graces' Chapel • Cappella della Madonna delle Grazie
Saint Ursula • Chiesa di Sant'Orsola
Saint Agatha on the Lavic Runnels • Chiesa di Sant'Agata alle Sciare
Saint Euplius Old Church Ruins • Ruderi della Vecchia Chiesa di Sant'Euplio
Saint Cajetan by the Grottoes • Chiesa di San Gaetano alle Grotte (260)
Basilica of the Most Holy Annunciated Mary of Carmel • Basilica di Maria Santissima Annunziata al Carmine (1729)
Saint Agatha by the Borough • Chiesa di Sant'Agata al Borgo. (1669, destroyed in 1693 and rebuilt in 1709). The "Borough" (il Borgo) is an inner district of Catania.
Saint Nicholas by the Borough • Chiesa di San Nicola al Borgo
Most Holy Sacrament by the Borough • Chiesa del Santissimo Sacramento al Borgo
Saint Mary of Providence by the Borough • Chiesa di Santa Maria della Provvidenza al Borgo
Chapel of the Blind's Hospice • Cappella dell'Ospizio dei Ciechi
Saint Camillus of the Crucifers • Chiesa di San Camillo dei Crociferi
Catanian Benedictine Monastery of Saint Nicholas the Arena • Monastero Benedettino di San Nicola l'Arena (1558)
Basilica of Saint Nicholas the Arena • Chiesa di San Nicola l'Arena (1687)
Saint Mary of Guidance • Chiesa di Santa Maria dell'Indirizzo (1730)
Saint Clare • Chiesa di Santa Chiara (1563)
Convent of the Poor Clares • Monastero delle Clarisse (1563)
Saint Sebastian Martyr • Chiesa di San Sebastiano Martire (1313)
Saint Anne • Chiesa di Sant'Anna
Marian Sanctuary of Saint Mary of Help • Santuario di Santa Maria dell'Aiuto
Madonna of Loreto • Chiesa della Madonna di Loreto
Church of the Saint Joseph at Transit • Chiesa di San Giuseppe al Transito
Immaculate Conception of Little Minorites • Chiesa dell'Immacolata Concezione dei Minoritelli
Saint Agatha by Little Virgins' Boarding Convent • Chiesa di Sant'Agata al Conservatorio delle Verginelle
Our Lady of Itria or Saint Mary Hodigitria • Chiesa di Santa Maria dell'Itria or Odigitria.
Hodigitria is a Greek word meaning She who shows the Way.
Saint Philip Neri • Chiesa di San Filippo Neri
Saint Martha • Chiesa di Santa Marta
Holy Child • Chiesa del Santo Bambino
Our Lady of Providence • Chiesa di Santa Maria della Provvidenza
Saint Beryllus (or Birillus) inside Saint Mary of the Sick • Chiesa di San Berillo in Santa Maria degli Ammalati
Our Lady of the Poor • Chiesa della Madonna dei Poveri
Saint Vincent de Paul • Chiesa di S.Vincenzo de'Paoli
Saint John the Baptist • Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista in the suburb of San Giovanni di Galermo
Saint Anthony Abbot • Chiesa di Sant'Antonio Abate
Little Saviour's Byzantine Chapel • Cappella Bizantina del Salvatorello
Saint Augustine •Chiesa di Sant'Agostino
Church of the Most Holy Trinity • Chiesa della Santissima Trinità
Church of the Little Virgins • Chiesa delle Verginelle
Our Lady of the Rotunda • Chiesa di Santa Maria della Rotonda
Church of the Most Holy Retrieved Sacrament • Chiesa del Santissimo Sacramento Ritrovato (1796).
This church was constructed on the Lavas of "Armisi", a shelfy locale on the seaward coast of Catania where a Sacred Monstrance with its Holy Hosts were repossessed after a sacrilegious theft occurred in 1796.
On May 29th, a pair of scoundrels entered undisturbed inside the Jesuitic Church of Saint Francis Borgia to seize without apparent hindrance the precious Ostensory. In that period the Dome of Saint Agatha was closed for repairs, so this parish was considered the most apt to assume the cathedral's functions. The two rascals were rapidly singled out and caught, but the broadmindedness of their misdeed produced a profound upset and a palpable indignation that pervaded both the civilian and religious society of the city.
The meticulous researches involved the whole citizenship that contributed with extreme participation and great affliction. Some well-grounded evidences would have led to most precise traces near a lavic expanse looking on to the sea not far from the purlieu of the current central railway station.
And moreover, the presence and the yelps of a little black mongrel, nestled by a prickly pear close to a scabrous hollow where the Holy Pyx was hidden, permitted its exact identification. Amazingly, however, the meek animal had not half a mind to stand aside from the filthy rag that wrapped the Casket.Rather than go away it kept lying down steadily for a long time. It was as though it wanted to protect and care for the mysterious and not edible result of its flair.
A few people started throwing stones toward it but this solution was completely ineffectual and incapable sending it away from its temporary dog's bed. The tries of persuasion of those present will last quite a while.
Because of such disconcerting stubbornness, the then religious authorities decided unanimously to lay the foundation stone of the new Temple of the Most Holy Retrieved Sacrament over a "forlorn and unsuited area abounding in magmatic scales".
The district, where the episode took place, will be commonly known as the Quarter of "Our Refound Lord" ("Nostru Signuri Asciatu" in local dialect and "Nostro Signore Ritrovato" in Italian).
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Ognina • Santuario di Santa Maria in Ognina (1308).
Ognina is the maritime quarter and the main fishing pole of Catania. Many bareboats and umpteen smacks gather and crowd here all year round.
During summertime this craggy inlet becomes a sort of vacationland for many Catanians, both denizens and provincials. The little Church of Saint Mary of Ognina, with its essential façade, rises in a square that sweetly slopes against the sea.
In its close vicinities there is the cylindric merloned Saint Mary's Tower (Torre Santa Maria) which was restructured in the XVI century to prevent the frequent plunders of the Saracen pirates.
The parishional origin is the result of the gradual modification of the once Greek Temple of Athena Longatis or Parthenos Longatis that stood anciently on the steep reef. This cult was imported from a Boeotian region of Greece called Longas from where the first Hellenic settlers of this borough probably came.
Saint Mary of Lognina was already entitled this way in a few Vatican documents going back to 1308.Lognina is the dialectial version of Ognina that in Italian language has lost the initial "L" of the name.
In 1676 it was visited by the Sicilian historian Giovanni Andrea Massa who remained extremely impressed at the beauty of the building. After the earthquake of 1693 it was sobriously rebuilt on the same place but with a different orientation.
The Virgin Mary's Simulacre, venerated since 1600, was destroyed by a fire in 1885.For a period her image was exposed to the believers in the waxen features of a She-Child, the Madonna Bambina (the Child Madonna).Today's wooden statue was carved in 1889.
The Child Madonna is the Patroness of the Fishermen of Ognina where every year on September 8 a Processional Feast[18] betides on the sea involving lots of Catanians coming even from abroad.
Along Ognina's coastline are visible the spectacular natural Grottos of Ulysses (le Grotte d'Ulisse).
Ulysses and his companions landed in these precincts during the Sicilian scenes of the Odyssey when they will encounter and encave inside the cavern of Polyphemus.
Immediately after the blinding of the cyclops, the King of Ithaca and the survived few will flee from his fury reaching the nearby roadstead of Ognina.
Owing to this reason the charming seaway of the Gulf of Ognina (Golfo di Ognina) or "Porticciolo di Ognina" is still identified with the dual names of "Porto Ulisse" ( Port Ulysses ) or "Baia d'Ulisse" ( Ulysses' Bay ).
Our Lady of Montserrat • Chiesa di Santa Maria di Monserrato
Our Lady of Good Health • Chiesa di Santa Maria della Salute
Saint Mary of La Salette • Chiesa di Santa Maria de La Salette
Saint Mary of Mercy or Saint Mary of Merced • Chiesa di Santa Maria della Mercede
Saint Catherine at the Sandfield • Chiesa di Santa Caterina al Rinazzo
Our Lady of Concord • Chiesa di Santa Maria della Concordia
Our Lady of the Guard • Chiesa di Santa Maria della Guardia
Our Lady of Consolation • Chiesa di Santa Maria della Consolazione
Most Holy Crucifix of Marjoram • Chiesa del Santissimo Crocifisso Maiorana.
This church was entitled this way, since prior to its construction in that very place there was a little devotional altar with a hand painted icon of the Crucifix. The anonymous pious author depictured the tablet obtaining a coloured substance from the leaves of the marjoram.
Crucifix of Miracles • Chiesa del Crocifisso dei Miracoli
Crucifix of Good Death •Chiesa del Crocifisso della Buona Morte
Our Lady of La Mecca •Chiesa di Santa Maria della Mecca.
La Mecca is not the Saudiarabian Holy City, but a vernacular Catanian word that identifies a "silk mill" that existed, in effect, in its vicinity.
Saint Cajetan at the Marina •Chiesa di San Gaetano alla Marina
Most Holy Redeemer • Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore
Saint Francis of Paola • Chiesa di San Francesco di Paola
Divine Maternity • Chiesa della Divina Maternità
Chapel of Mary Auxiliatrix • Cappella di Maria Ausiliatrice
Chapel of Sacred Heart of Jesus • Cappella del Sacro Cuore di Gesù
Sacred Heart by Redoubt • Sacro Cuore al Fortino (1898)
Saints George and Denis • Chiesa dei Santi Giorgio e Dionigi
Sacred Heart by Capuchins • Chiesa del Sacro Cuore ai Cappuccini
Saint Christopher • Chiesa di San Cristoforo
Saints Cosmas and Damian • Chiesa dei Santi Cosma e Damiano
Saint Mary of Succour or Saint Mary of the Palm • Chiesa di Santa Maria del Soccorso or Santa Maria della Palma.
The ancient presence of a palm (nowadays disappeared) in the nearby forechurch justifies its second name.
Saint Vitus • Chiesa di San Vito
Saints Guardian Angels • Chiesa dei Santi Angeli Custodi
Most Holy Saviour • Chiesa del Santissimo Salvatore

Touristic Urban Spots

Catania:Stesichorus Square and Bellini's Monument (Piazza Stesicoro - Monumento a Vincenzo Bellini)
Piazza del Duomo • Cathedral's Square
Via Etnea • Etnean Street
Piazza Università • University Square
Piazza Stesicoro • Stesichorus Square
Via Vittorio Emanuele II
Via Giuseppe Garibaldi
Via Crociferi • Crucifers Street
Via Caronda
Viale Regina Margherita
La "Villa Bellini" or "Giardini Vincenzo Bellini" • the Vincenzo Bellini's Gardens, more commonly known as Villa Bellini, are the "Main Park" of the city)
Orto Botanico dell'Università di Catania • Catania's Botanical garden

Catania - Castello Ursino
The Ursino Castle (il Castello Ursino), built by emperor Frederick II in the 13th century.
Uzeda Gate • la Porta Uzeda
The Medieval Gothic-Catalan Arch of Saint John of Friars in Via Cestai • l'Arco Gotico-catalano di San Giovanni de' Freri in Via Cestai
Ferdinandean Gate or Garibaldi Gate (la Porta Ferdinandea or Porta Garibaldi), a triumphal arch erected in 1768 to celebrate the marriage of Ferdinand I of Two Sicilies and Marie Caroline of Austria
Redoubt's Gate • la Porta del Fortino
The House of the War-Mutilated built in fascist-style architecture (la Casa del Mutilato)
Catania War Cemetery, a Commonwealth Graveyard located in the southern country hamlet of Bicocca.


Historical building of the University, in the city centre. Nowadays the different faculties are hosted in different buildings around town.
The University of Catania dates back to 1434 and it is the oldest university in Sicily. Its academic nicknames are: Siculorum Gymnasium and Siciliae Studium Generale. Nowadays it hosts 12 faculties and over 62,000 students, and it offers undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Catania hosts the Scuola Superiore, an academic institution linked to the University of Catania, aimed at the excellence in education. The Scuola Superiore di Catania offers undergraduate and postgraduate programs too. Apart from the University and the Scuola Superiore Catania is base of the prestigious Istituto Musicale Vincenzo Bellini an advanced institute of musical studies (Conservatory) and the Accademia di Belle Arti an advanced institute of artistic studies. Both institutions offer programs of university level for musical and artistic education.


Vincenzo Bellini

Giovanni Verga
The opera composer Vincenzo Bellini was born in Catania, and a museum exists at his birthplace. The Teatro Massimo "Vincenzo Bellini", which opened in 1890, is named after the composer. The opera house presents a variety of operas through a season, which run from December to May, many of which are the work of Bellini.
Giovanni Verga was born in Catania in 1840. He became the greatest writer of Verismo, an Italian literary movement akin to Naturalism. His novels portray life among the lower levels of Sicilan society, such as fishermen and stone-masons, and were written in a mixture of both literary language and local dialect.
The city is base of the newspaper La Sicilia and of the TV-channel Antenna Sicilia also known as Sicilia Channel. Several others local television channels and free-press magazines have their headquarters in Catania. Noted Italian Tv host Pippo Baudo is from Catania.
In the late 1980s and during the 1990s Catania had a sparkling and unique popular music scene. Indie pop and indie rock bands, local radio station and dynamic independent music record labels sprung. As a result, in those years the city experienced a vital and effervescent cultural period. Artists like Carmen Consoli and Mario Venuti and international known indie rock bands like Uzeda came out of this cultural milieu.
The city is the home of Amatori Catania rugby union team, Calcio Catania football team and Orizzonte Catania, the latter being a brilliant women's water polo club, winning eight European Champions Cup titles from 1994 to 2008. Noted Italian basketball coach Ettore Messina is a native of Catania.
The city's patron saint is Saint Agatha, who is celebrated with a religious pageantry on 5 February every year.

Catania has a commercial seaport (Catania seaport), an international airport (Catania Fontanarossa), a central train station (Catania Centrale) and it is a main node of the Sicilian motorway system.
The motorways serving Catania are the A18 Messina-Catania and the A19 Palermo-Catania; extensions of the A18 going from Catania to Syracuse and to Gela are currently under construction.
The Circumetnea is a small-gauge railway which runs for 110 km from Catania round the base of Mount Etna. It attains the height of 976 m above sea level before descending to rejoin the coast at Giarre-Riposto to the North.
In the late 1990s the first line of an underground railway (Metropolitana di Catania) was built. The underground service started in 1999 and it is currently active on a route of 3.8 km, from the station Borgo (North of town) to the seaport, passing through the stations of Giuffrida, Italia, Galatea, and Central Station. First line is planned to extend from the satellite city of Paternò to Fontanarossa Airport. Segments Borgo-Nesima (extending the underground railway from the station Borgo to the suburban area of Nesima) and Galatea-Stesicoro (extending the underground railway from the station Galatea to Piazza Stesicoro, in the heart of town) are currently under construction.


Based primaily in Sicily, the Sicilian Mafia formed in the mid-1800s to unify the Sicilian peasants against their enemies. In Sicily, the word Mafia tends to mean "manly" and a Mafioso considers himself a "Man of Honor." However, the organization is known as "Cosa Nostra" -- Our Thing -- or Our Affair. The Sicilian Mafia changed from a group of honorable Sicilian men to an organized criminal group in the 1920s. In the 1950s, Sicily experienced a massive building boom. Taking advantage of the opportunity, the Sicilian Mafia gained control of the building contracts and made millions of dollars. Today, the Sicilian Mafia has evolved into an international organized crime group. Some experts estimate the Sicilian Mafia is the second largest organization in Italy, second only to the Fiat Corporation. The Sicilian Mafia specializes in heroin trafficking, political corruption and military arms trafficking and is the most powerful and most active Italian Organized Crime Group in the United States with estimates of more than 2,500 Sicilian Mafia affiliates located there. The Sicilian Mafia is also known to engage in arson, frauds, counterfeiting, and other racketeering crimes. The Sicilian Mafia is a dual organization. The "high Mafia" consists of lawyers, financiers, and professionals and seeks power and resources by bribing or pressuring politicians, judges and administrators. The "low Mafia" is the violent Mafia of thugs and bandits who threaten and kill to keep the victim population in line. Sometimes the two are hard to keep apart, but the two tendencies can always be distinguished. The Sicilian Mafia, high and low, is infamous for its aggressive assaults on Italian law enforcement officials. In Sicily the term "Excellent Cadaver" is used to distinguish the assassination of prominent government officials from the common criminals and ordinary citizens killed by the Mafia. Some of their high ranking victims include police commissioners, mayors, judges, police colonels and generals, and Parliament members. On May 23, 1992, the Sicilian Mafia struck Italian law enforcement with a vengeance. At approximately 6:00 p.m., Italian Magistrate Giovanni Falcone, his wife, and three police body guards were killed by a massive bomb. Falcone, Director of Prosecutions (roughly, District Attorney) and for the court of Palermo and head of the special anti-Mafia investigative squad, had become the organization's most formidable enemy. His team was moving to prepare cases against most of the Mafia leadership. The bomb made a crater 30 feet in diameter in the road Falcone's caravan was traveling. This became known as the Capaci Massacre. Less than two months later, on July 19, 1992, the Mafia struck Falcone's replacement, Judge Paolo Borsellino, also in Palermo, Sicily. Borsellino and five bodyguards were killed outside the apartment of Borsellino's mother when a car packed with explosives was detonated by remote control as the judge approached the front door of his mother's apartment. In 1993 the authorities arrested Salvatore "Totó" Riina, believed at the time to be the capo dei capi and responsible directly or indirectly for scores if not hundreds of killings, after years of investigation which some believe was delayed by Mafia influence within the police and Carabinieri. After Riina's arrest control of the organization fell to Bernardo Provenzano who had come to reject Riina's strategy of war against the authorities in favor of a strategy of bribery, corruption and influence-peddling. As a consequence the rate of Mafia killings fell sharply but Mafia influence not only in the international drug and white slavery (prostitution) trade but locally in construction and public contracts in Sicily continued. Provenzano was himself captured in 2006 after being wanted for 43 years.


Palermo (Sicilian: Palermu, Greek: Panormus) is a historic city in southern Italy, the capital of the autonomous region Sicily and the province of Palermo. The city is noted for its rich history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old. Palermo is located in the north-west of the island of Sicily, right by the Gulf of Palermo in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The city was founded by the Phoenicians, but named by the Ancient Greeks as Panormus meaning all port. Palermo became part of the Roman Republic and eventually part of the Byzantine Empire, for over a thousand years. For a brief period it was under Arab rule where it first became a capital. Following the Norman reconquest, Palermo would become capital of a new kingdom from 1130 to 1816 the Kingdom of Sicily. Eventually it would be united with the Kingdom of Naples to form the Two Sicilies until the Italian unification of 1860.
The metropolitan area of Palermo is the fifth most populated in Italy and in the top eighty of the largest in all of Europe with around 1.2 million people. In the central area, the city itself has a population of around 670 thousand people, the inhabitants are known as Palermitans or poetically panormiti, the language spoken by its inhabitants is the Sicilian language.
The religion of Roman Catholicism is highly important in Palermitan culture, the patron saint of the city is Saint Rosalia, her feast day on July 15 is perhaps the biggest social event in the city. The area attracts significant amounts of tourists each year and is widely known for its colourful fruit, vegetable and fish market at the heart of Palermo known as the Vucciria.

Evidence for human settlement in the area now known as Palermo goes back to the Pleistocene Epoch, around 8000 BC. This evidence is present in the form of cave drawings at nearby Addaura crafted by the Sicani, who according to Thucydides arrived from the Iberian Peninsula (perhaps Catalonia). During 734 BC the Phoenicians, a sea trading peoples from the north of ancient Canaan built a small settlement on the natural habour of Palermo, some sources suggest they named the settlement Zîz. The Greeks who were the most dominant culture on the island of Sicily, due to the powerful city state of Syracuse to the east, instead called the settlement Panormus. Its Greek name means "all-port" and it was named as so because of its fine natural harbour. Palermo was then passed on to the Phoenician's descendants and successors, in the form of the Carthaginians. During this period it was a centre of commerce; however a power struggle between the Greeks and the Carthaginians broke out in the form of the Sicilian Wars, causing unrest. It was from Palermo that Hamilcar's fleet which was defeated at the Battle of Himera was launched. Palermo eventually became a Greek colony when Pyrrhus of Epirus gained it during the Pyrrhic War period in 276 BC. However as the Romans flooded into Sicily during the First Punic War, the city became under Roman rule only three decades later. The Romans made sure that, in the words of Roman consul M. Valerian to the Roman Senate; "no Carthaginian remains in Sicily". This period was quite a calm time for Palermo, which was growing into an important Roman trade centre, also during this period Christianity first began to be practiced in Palermo.

The Middle Ages
As the Roman Empire was falling apart, Palermo fell under the control of several Germanic tribes; first were the Vandals in 440 AD under the rule of their king Geiseric. The Vandals had already invaded other parts of western Europe establishing themselves as a significant force. However, they soon lost these newly acquired possessions to another East Germanic tribe in the form of the Goths. The Ostrogothic conquest under Theodoric the Great began in 488; although the Goths were Germanic, Theodoric sought to revive Roman culture and government instead. The Gothic War took place between the Ostrogoths and the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire. Sicily was the first part of Italy to be taken under general Belisarius who was commissioned by Eastern Emperor Justinian I who solidified his rule in the following years. After the Byzantines were betrayed by admiral Euphemius, who fled to Tunisia and begged the Aghlabid leader Ziyadat Allah to help him there was a Muslim conquest of Sicily, putting in place the Emirate of Sicily. The Arab rulers allowed the natives freedom of religion on the condition that they paid a tax. Although their rule was short in time, it was then that Palermo displaced Syracuse as the prime city of Sicily; it was said to have competed with Córdoba and Cairo in terms of importance and splendor. The Arabs also introduced many agricultural items which remain a mainstay of Sicilian cuisine. After dynasty related quarrels however, there was a Christian reconquest in the form of the Normans from the Duchy of Normandy, descendants of the Vikings. Palermo was back under Christian rule by 1072 thanks to Robert Guiscard of the House of Hauteville. It was under Roger II of Sicily that his holdings of Sicily and the southern part of the Italian Peninsula were promoted into the Kingdom of Sicily; the kingdom was ruled from Palermo as its capital, with the king's court held at Palazzo dei Normanni. Much construction was undertaken during this period, such as the building of the Palermo Cathedral. The Kingdom of Sicily became one of the wealthiest states in Europe, as wealthy as fellow Norman state the Kingdom of England. Sicily in 1194 fell under the control of the Holy Roman Empire. Palermo was the preferred city of the Emperor Frederick II. Muslims of Palermo were migrated and expelled during Holy Roman rule. After an interval of Angevin rule (1266-1282), Sicily came under the house of Aragon and later, in (1479), the kingdom of Spain until 1713 and between 1717–1718. Palerrmo also managed by Savoy between 1713–1717 and 1718-1720 and Austria between 1720-1734.

Two Sicilies and Italian unification
Sicily's unification (1734) with the Bourbon-ruled kingdom of Naples as the kingdom of the Two Sicilies inflicted a devastating blow on the elite of Palermo, as the city was reduced to just another provincial city, the royal court residing in Naples. Palermo rebelled in 1848 and held out against the Neapolitan crown until May 1849.
The Italian Risorgimento and Sicily's annexation (1860) to the kingdom of Italy gave Palermo a second chance. It was once again the administrative centre of Sicily, and there was a certain economic and industrial development. In the second half of the 19th century Palermo expanded beyond the historical centre, especially towards Via della Libertá. Monumental public buildings were erected and a new thoroughfare was cut into the dense old town, called Via Roma. The city was one of the main centres of Art Nouveau style in Italy.
Palermo survived almost the entire fascist period unscathed, but during the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943 it suffered heavy damage.
The importance of Palermo got another boost when Sicily became (1947) an autonomous region with extended self-rule. But any improvement was thwarted by the rising power of the Mafia, which still today is a dramatic feature of the city, as well as the whole Southern Italy.

Main sights
Palermo has a noteworthy architectural heritage and is notable for its many Norman buildings.

The Cathedral of Palermo (1185).
San Giovanni dei Lebbrosi (1071)
San Giovanni degli Eremiti (1132)
Martorana (Santa Maria dell'Ammiragliato, 1143)
San Cataldo (12th century)
Santa Maria della Gancia
Santa Maria della Catena
San Giuseppe dei Teatini
Oratorio di San Lorenzo
Oratorio del Rosario
Santa Teresa alla Kalsa derives its name from Al-Khalisa, an arab term meaning elected. The church, constructed in 1686–1706 over the former emir's residence, is one of the most outstanding examples of Sicilian Baroque. It has a single, airy nave, with stucco decorations from the early 18th century.
Santa Maria dello Spasimo was built in 1506 and later turned into a hospital. For this temple Raphael painted his famous Sicilia's Spasimo, now in the Museo del Prado of Madrid. The church today is a fascinating air-open ruin, which occasionally houses exhibitions and musical shows.
the Church of the Jesus (Chiesa del Gesù) was built by the Jesuits in the centre of the city from 1564, over a pre-existing convent of Basilian monks. The edifice was further enlarged starting from 1591, becoming one of the most relevant examples of Sicilian Baroque, though retaining some severe late Renaissance fashion. The church was heavily damaged after the 1943 bombings, which destroyed most of the frescoes. The interior has a Latin cross plan with a nave and two aisles, characterized by a particularly rich decoration of marbles, tarsias and stuccoes, especially in the St. Anne chapel. At the right is the Casa Professa, with a 1685 portal and a precious 18th century cloister. The Church of the Jesus is home to the Municipal Library, placede here in 1775.
The church of St. Francis of Assisi, erected in what was once the market district of the city. It was built between 1255 and 1277 in the site of two pre-existing churches, and was largely renovated in the 15th, 16th, 18th and 19th centuries, the latter after an earthquake. After the 1943 bombings, the church was restored to its Mediaeval appearance, which now includes part of the original building such as part of the right side, the apses and the Gothic portal in the façade. The interior has a typical Gothic flavour, with a nave and two aisles separated by two rows of cylindrical pilasters. Some of the chapels are in Renaissance style, as well as the late 16th century side portals. The church includes precious sculptures by Antonio and Giacomo Gagini, and Francesco Laurana, plus a noteworthy wooden choir dating from the 16th century. Of note are also the allegorical statues by Giacomo Serpotta (1723), also author of the stucco decoration.
The church of the Magione (officially church of the Holy Trinity), an ancient example of Norman architecture. The church was founded in 1191 by Matteo d'Ajello, who donated it to the Cistercian monks.

Palaces and museums
Palazzo dei Normanni, one of the most beautiful Italian palaces and a notable example of Norman architecture, probably built over an Arab fortress. It houses the famous Cappella Palatina.
Zisa (1160) and Cuba, magnificent castles/houses used by the kings of Palermo for hunting. Similar buildings were common in northern Africa, but today these two are the only ones remaining. The Zisa houses the Islamic museum. The Cuba was once encircled by water.
Palazzo Chiaramonte
Palazzo Abatellis, with the Regional Gallery. It was built at the end of the 15th century for the prefect of the city, Francesco Abatellis. It is a lassive though elegant construction, in typical Catalan Gothic style, with Renaissance influences. The Gallery houses an Elenora of Aragon bust by Francesco Laurana (1471) and the Malvagna Triptych (c. 1510), by Jan Gossaert and the famous Annunziata by Antonello da Messina. The exposition in the museum has been designed by the famous architect Carlo Scarpa.
The Museo Archeologico Regionale is one the main museums of Italy: it includes numerous remains from Etruscan, Carthaginian, Roman and Hellenistic civilizations. It houses all the decorative parts from the Sicilian temples of Segesta and Selinunte.

Opera Houses
The Teatro Massimo ("Greatest Theatre") was opened in 1897. Closed for renovation from 1974 until 1997, it is now carefully restored and has an active schedule. Enrico Caruso sang in a performance of La Gioconda during the opening season, returning for Rigoletto at the very end of his career. It is the largest theater in Italy (8000 sm).
The Teatro Politeama was built between 1867 and 1874. Nowadays, the town's Gallery of Modern Art is accommodated here.

Quattro Canti is a small square at the crossing of the ancient main roads (now: Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda) dividing the town into its quarters ('mandamenti'). The buildings at the corner have diagonal baroque facades so that the square gets an almost octagonal form.
Piazza Pretoria was planned in the 16th century near the Quattro Canti as the site of a fountain by Francesco Camilliani, the Fontana Pretoria.

Other sights
The Cathedral has a heliometer (solar "observatory") of 1690, one of a number[17] built in Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries. The device itself is quite simple: a tiny hole in one of the minor domes acts as Pinhole camera, projecting an image of the sun onto the floor at solar noon (12:00 in winter, 13:00 in summer). There is a bronze line, la Meridiana on the floor, running precisely N/S. The ends of the line mark the positions as at the summer and winter solstices; signs of the zodiac show the various other dates throughout the year.
The purpose of the instrument was to standardise the measurement of time and the calendar. The convention in Sicily had been that the (24 hour) day was measured from the moment of sun-rise, which of course meant that no two locations had the same time and, more importantly, did not have the same time as in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. It was also important to know when the Vernal Equinox occurred, to provide the correct date for Easter.
The Orto botanico di Palermo, founded in 1785, is the largest in Italy with a surface of 10 ha.
One site of interest is the Capuchin Catacombs, with many mummified corpses in varying degrees of preservation.
Close to the city is 600-metre (1,970 ft) high Monte Pellegrino, with spectacular views of the city, its surrounding mountains and the ocean. .

In 2007, there were 666,552 people residing in Palermo (in which 1 million live in the greater Palermo area), located in the province of Palermo, Sicily, of whom 47.6% were male and 52.4% were female. Minors (children ages 18 and younger) totalled 21.64 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 16.54 percent. This compares with the Italian average of 18.06 percent (minors) and 19.94 percent (pensioners). The average age of Palermo resident is 37 compared to the Italian average of 42. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the population of Palermo declined by 2.92 percent, while Italy as a whole grew by 3.56 percent. The reason for Palermo's decline is a population flight to the suburbs, and Northern Italy.[1][2] The current birth rate of Palermo is 10.75 births per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 9.45 births.
As of 2006, 97.79% of the population was of Sicilian/Italian descent. The largest immigrant group came from South Asia (mostly from Sri Lanka): 0.80%, other European countries (mostly from Serbia and Poland): 0.3%, and North Africa (mostly from Tunisia): 0.28%.[18]

Palermo has its own football team, U.S. Città di Palermo, playing in Italian Serie A and in UEFA Cup first round of the 2007–2008 season. The chairman is Maurizio Zamparini and the coach is Stefano Colantuono. The Targa Florio was an open road endurance car race held near Palermo. Founded in 1906, it used to be one of the oldest sports car racing events until it was discontinued in 1977 due to safety concerns but has since run as a rallying event.
Palermo was home to the grand depart of the 2008 Giro d'Italia. The initial stage was a 28.5 km long TTT (Team Time Trial) held on May 10th.
Internazionali Femminili di Palermo is a WTA Tour Tier IV tournament in Palermo.

Patron saints

The patron saint of Palermo is Santa Rosalia, who is still widely venerated. On the 14th of July, people in Palermo celebrate the "Festino", which is the most important religious event of the year. The Festino is a procession in the main street of Palermo to remember the miracle attributed to Santa Rosalia who, it is believed, freed the city from the Black Death in 1624. The cave where the bones of Santa Rosalia were discovered is on Monte Pellegrino (see above): when her relics were carried around the city three times, the plague was lifted. There is a Santuario marking the spot and can be reached via a scenic bus ride from the city below.
Before 1624 Palermo had four patron saints, one for each of the four major parts of the city. They were Saint Agatha, Saint Christina, Saint Ninfa and Saint Olivia.
Saint Lucy is also honoured with a peculiar celebration, during which inhabitants of Palermo do not eat anything made with flour, but boil wheat in its natural state and use it to prepare a special dish called cuccìa. This commemorates the saving of the city from famine through the intercession of St Lucia. A ship full of grain mysteriously arrived in the city's harbour and the population was so hungry that they did not waste time in making flour but ate the grain as it had arrived.

Palermo International Airport, also known as Falcone-Borsellino Airport, Punta Raisi Airport: dedicated to Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, two anti-mafia judges killed by the mafia in early 1990s, is located 32 km (19 miles) west of Palermo (Punta Raisi).
The airport can also be reached by trains departing from Centrale, Notarbartolo and Francia stations.


Villa Romana del Casale is a Roman villa located about 5km outside the town of Piazza Armerina, Sicily. It contains the richest, largest and most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Villa was constructed (on the remains of an older villa) in the first quarter of the fourth century A.D., probably as the center of a huge latifundium covering the entire surrounding area. How long the villa kept this role is not known, maybe for less that 150 years, but the complex remained inhabited and a village grew around it, named Platia, derived from the word palatium (palace). It was damaged, maybe destroyed during the domination of the Vandals and the Visigoths, but the buildings remained in use, at least in part, during the Byzantine and Arab period. The site was finally abandoned for good when a landslide covered the villa in the 12th century AD, and remaining inhabitants moved to the current location of Piazza Armerina.
The existence of the villa was almost entirely forgotten (some of the tallest parts have always been above ground) and the area used for cultivation. Pieces of mosaics and some columns were found early in the 19th century, and some excavations were carried out later in that century, but the first serious excavations were performed by Paolo Orsi in 1929, and later by Giuseppe Cultrera in 1935-39. The latest major excavations were in the period 1950-60 by Gino Vinicio Gentili after which the current cover was built. A few very localized excavations have been performed in the 1970s by Andrea Carandini.
In late antiquity most of the Sicilian hinterland was partitioned into huge agricultural estates called "latifundia" (sing. "latifundium"). The size of the villa and the amount and quality of its artwork indicate that it was the center of such a latifundium, whose owner was probably a member of senatorial class if not of the imperial family itself, i.e., the absolute upper class of the Roman Empire.
The villa evidently served several purposes. It contained some rooms that were clearly residential, others that certainly had official purposes, and a number of rooms of as yet unknown intended use, though they were definitely not built for commercial or production reasons. The villa would probably have been the permanent or semi-permanent residence of the owner; it would have been where the owner, in his role as patron, received his local clients; and it would have functioned as the administrative center of the latifundium.
Currently, only the manorial portions of the complex have been excavated. The ancillary structures - housing for the slaves, workshops, stables, etc. have not yet been located.
The villa was a single-story building, centered on the peristyle, around which almost all the main public and private rooms were organized. Entrance to the peristyle is via the atrium from the west, with the thermal baths to the northwest; service rooms and probably guest rooms to the north; private apartments and a huge basilica to the east; and rooms of unknown purpose to the south. Somewhat detached, almost as an afterthought, is the separate area to the south. containing the elliptical peristyle, service rooms, and a huge triclinium. The overall plan of the villa was dictated by several factors: older constructions on the site, the slight slope on which it is built, and the passage of the sun and the prevailing winds. The higher ground to the east is occupied by the Great Basilica, the private apartments, and the Corridor of the Great Hunt, the middle ground by the Peristyle, guest rooms, the entrance area, the Elliptical Peristyle, and the triclinium, while the lower ground to the west is dedicated to the thermal baths.
The whole complex is somewhat unusual, as it is organized along three major axes; the primary axis is the (slightly bent) line that passes from the atrium, tablinum, peristyle and the great basilica (coinciding with the path visitors would follow), while the thermal baths and the elliptical peristyle with the triclinium are centered on separate axes. In spite of the different orientations of the various parts of the villa they all form a single structure, built simultaneously. There is no indication that the villa was constructed in several stages.
Little is known about the earlier villa, but it appears to have been just a large country residence, probably built around the beginning of the second century.


Selinunte (Greek: Σελινοῦς; Latin: Selinus) is an ancient Greek archaeological site situated on the south coast of Sicily between the valleys of the rivers Belice and Modione in the province of Trapani.
The archaeological site contains five temples centered on an acropolis. Of the five temples, only temple E, the so-called "Temple of Hera" has been re-erected.
Selinus was one of the most important of the Greek colonies in Sicily, situated on the southwest coast of that island, at the mouth of the small river of the same name, and 6.5 km west of that of the Hypsas (the modern Belice River). It was founded, as we learn from Thucydides, by a colony from the Sicilian city of Megara, or Megara Hyblaea, under the conduct of a leader named Pammilus, about 100 years after the settlement of that city, with the addition of a fresh body of colonists from the parent city of Megara in Greece. (Thuc. vi. 4, vii. 57; Scymn. Ch. 292; Strabo vi. p. 272.) The date of its foundation cannot be precisely fixed, as Thucydides indicates it only by reference to that of the Sicilian Megara, which is itself not accurately known, but it may be placed about 628 BCE. Diodorus indeed would place it 22 years earlier, or 650 BCE, and Hieronymus still further back, 654 BCE; but the date given by Thucydides, which is probably entitled to the most confidence, is incompatible with this earlier epoch. (Thuc. vi. 4; Diod. xiii. 59; Hieron. Chron. ad ann. 1362; Clinton, Fast. Hell. vol. i. p. 208.) The name is supposed to have been derived from the quantities of wild parsley (σελινὸς) which grew on the spot; and for the same reason a leaf of this parsley was adopted as the symbol of their coins.
Selinus was the most westerly of the Greek colonies in Sicily, and for this reason was early brought into contact and collision with the Carthaginians and the native Sicilians in the west and northwest of the island. The former people, however, do not at first seem to have offered any obstacle to their progress; but as early as 580 BCE we find the Selinuntines engaged in hostilities with the people of Segesta (a non-Hellenic city), whose territory bordered on their own. (Diod. v. 9). The arrival of a body of emigrants from Rhodes and Cnidus who subsequently founded Lipara, and who lent their assistance to the Segestans, for a time secured the victory to that people; but disputes and hostilities seem to have been of frequent occurrence between the two cities, aud it is probable that in 454 BCE, when Diodorus speaks of the Segestans as being at war with the Lilybaeans (modern Marsala) (xi. 86), that the Selinuntines are the people really meant. The river Mazarus, which at that time appears to have formed the boundary between the two states, was only about 25 km west of Selinus; and it is certain that at a somewhat later period the territory of Selinus extended to its banks, and that that city had a fort and emporium at its mouth. (Diod. xiii. 54.) On the other side its territory certainly extended as far as the Halycus (modern Platani), at the mouth of which it had founded the colony of Minoa, or Heracleia, as it was afterwards termed. (Herod. v. 46.) It is evident, therefore, that Selinus had early attained to great power and prosperity; but we have very little information as to its history. We learn, however, that, like most of the Sicilian cities, it had passed from an oligarchy to a despotism, and about 510 BCE was subject to a despot named Peithagoras, from whom the citizens were freed by the assistance of the Spartan Euryleon, one of the companions of Dorieus: and thereupon Euryleon himself, for a short time, seized on the vacant sovereignty, but was speedily overthrown and put to death by the Selinuntines. (Herod. v. 46.) We are ignorant of the causes which led the Selinuntines to abandon the cause of the other Greeks, and take part with the Carthaginians during the great expedition of Hamilcar, 480 BCE; but we learn that they had even promised to send a contingent to the Carthaginian army, which, however did not arrive till after its defeat. (Diod. xi. 21, xiii. 55.) The Selinuntines are next mentioned in 466 BCE, as co-operating with the other free cities of Sicily in assisting the Syracusans to expel Thrasybulus (Id. xi. 68); and there is every reason to suppose that they fully shared in the prosperity of the half century that followed, a period of tranquillity and opulence for most of the Greek cities in Sicily. Thucydides speaks of Selinus just before the Athenian expedition as a powerful and wealthy city, possessing great resources for war both by land and sea, and having large stores of wealth accumulated in its temples. (Thuc. vi. 20.) Diodorus also represents it at the time of the Carthaginian invasion, as having enjoyed a long period of tranquillity, and possessing a numerous population. (Diod. xiii. 55.)
In 416 BCE, a renewal of the old disputes between Selinus and Segesta became the occasion of the great Athenian expedition to Sicily. The Selinuntines were the first to call in the powerful aid of Syracuse, and thus for a time obtained the complete advantage over their enemies, whom they were able to blockade both by sea and land; but in this extremity the Segestans had recourse to the assistance of Athens. (Thuc. vi. 6; Diod. xii. 82.) Though the Athenians do not appear to have taken any measures for the immediate relief of Segesta, it is probable that the Selinuntines and Syracusans withdrew their forces at once, as we hear no more of their operations against Segesta. Nor does Selinus bear any important part in the war of which it was the immediate occasion. Nicias indeed proposed, when the expedition first arrived in Sicily (415 BCE); that they should proceed at once to Selinus and compel that city to submit on moderate terms (Thuc. vi. 47); but this advice being overruled, the efforts of the armament were directed against Syracuse, and the Selinuntines in consequence bore but a secondary part in the subsequent operations. They are, however, mentioned on several occasions as furnishing auxiliaries to the Syracusans; and it was at Selinus that the large Peloponnesian force sent to the support of Gylippus landed in the spring of 413 BCE, having been driven over to the coast of Africa by a tempest. (Thuc. vii. 50, 58; Diod. xiii. 12.)
The defeat of the Athenian armament left the Segestans apparently at the mercy of their rivals; they in vain attempted to disarm the hostility of the Selinuntines by ceding without further contest the frontier district which had been the original subject of dispute. But the Selinuntines were not satisfied with this concession, and continued to press them with fresh aggressions, for protection against which they sought assistance from Carthage. This was, after some hesitation, accorded them, and a small force sent over at once, with the assistance of which the Segestans were able to defeat the Selinuntines in a battle. (Diod. xiii. 43, 44.) But not content with this, the Carthaginians in the following spring (409 BCE) sent over a vast army amounting, according to the lowest estimate, to 100,000 men, with which Hannibal Mago (the grandson of Hamilcar that was killed at Himera) landed at Lilybaeum, and from thence marched direct to Selinus. The Selinuntines were wholly unprepared to resist such a force; so little indeed had they expected it that the fortifications of their city were in many places out of repair, and the auxiliary force which had been promised by Syracuse as well as by Agrigentum (modern Agrigento) and Gela, was not yet ready, and did not arrive in time. The Selinuntines, indeed, defended themselves with the courage of despair, and even after the walls were carried, continued the contest from house to house; but the overwhelming numbers of the enemy rendered all resistance hopeless; and after a siege of only ten days the city was taken, and the greater part of the defenders put to the sword. Of the citizens of Selinus we are told that 16,000 were slain, 5,000 made prisoners, and 2,600 under the command of Empedion escaped to Agrigentum. (Diod. xiii. 54-59.) Shortly after Hannibal destroyed the walls of the city, but gave permission to the surviving inhabitants to return and occupy it, as tributaries of Carthage, an arrangement which was confirmed by the treaty subsequently concluded between Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, and the Carthaginians, in 405 BCE. (Id. xiii. 59, 114.) In the interval a considerable number of the survivors and fugitives had been brought together by Hermocrates, and established within its walls. (Id. 63.) There can be no doubt that a considerable part of the citizens of Selinus availed themselves of this permission, and that the city continued to subsist under the Carthaginian dominion; but a fatal blow had been given to its prosperity, which it undoubtedly never recovered.
The Selinuntines are again mentioned in 397 BCE as declaring in favour of Dionysius during his war with Carthage (Diod. xiv. 47); but both the city and territory were again given up to the Carthaginians by the peace of 383 BCE (Id. xv. 17); and though Dionysius recovered possession of it by arms shortly before his death (Id. xv. 73), it is probable that it soon again lapsed under the dominion of Carthage. The Halycus, which was established as the eastern boundary of the Carthaginian dominion in Sicily by the treaty of 383 BCE, seems to have generally continued to be so recognised, notwithstanding temporary interruptions; and was again fixed as their limit by the treaty with Agathocles in 314 BCE. (Id. xix. 71.) This last treaty expressly stipulated that Selinus, as well as Heracleia and Himera, should continue subject to Carthage, as before. In 276 BCE, however, during the expedition of Pyrrhus to Sicily, the Selinuntines voluntarily submitted to that monarch, after the capture of Heracleia. (Id. xxii. 10. Exc. H. p. 498.) During the First Punic War we again find Selinus subject to Carthage, and its territory was repeatedly the theater of military operations between the contending powers. (Id. xxiii. 1, 21; Pol. i. 39.) But before the close of the war (about 250 BCE), when the Carthaginians were beginning to contract their operations, and confine themselves to the defence of as few points as possible, they removed all the inhabitants of Selinus to Lilybaeum and destroyed the city. (Diod. xxiv. 1. Exc. H. p. 506.)
It seems certain that it was never rebuilt. Pliny indeed, mentions its name (Selinus oppidum, iii. 8. s. 14), as if it still existed as a town in his time, but Strabo distinctly classes it with the cities which were wholly extinct; and Ptolemy, though he mentions the river Selinus, has no notice of a town of the name. (Strab. vi. p. 272; Ptol. iii. 4. § 5.) The Thermae Selinuntiae (at modern Sciacca), which derived their name from the ancient city, and seem to have been much frequented in the time of the Romans, were situated at a considerable distance, 30 km, from Selinus: they are sulphureous springs, still much valued for their medical properties, and dedicated, like most thermal waters in Sicily, to San Calogero. At a later period they were called the Aquae Labodes or Larodes, under which name they appear in the Itineraries. (Itin. Ant. p. 89; Tab. Peut.)

Modern situation and ruins
By the 19th century, the site of the ancient city was wholly desolate, with the exception of a solitary guardhouse, and the ground for the most part thickly overgrown with shrubs and low brushwood; but the remains of the walls could be distinctly traced throughout a great part of their circuit. They occupied the summit of a low hill, directly abutting on the sea, and bounded on the west by the marshy valley through which flows the river Madiuni, the ancient Selinus; on the east by a smaller valley or depression, also traversed by a small marshy stream, which separates it from a hill of similar character, where the remains of the principal temples are still visible. The space enclosed by the existing walls is of small extent, so that it is probable the city in the days of its greatness must have covered a considerable area without them: and it has been supposed by some writers that the present line of walls is that erected by Hermocrates when he restored the city after its destruction by the Carthaginians. (Diod. xiii. 63.) No trace is, however, found of a more extensive circuit, though the remains of two lines of wall, evidently connected with the port, are found in the small valley east of the city. Within the area surrounded by the walls are the remains of three temples, all of the Doric order, and of an ancient style; none of them were standing until the temple designated "Temple E" was re-erected in the 20th century, but the foundations of them all remain, together with numerous portions of columns and other architectural fragments, sufficient to enable one to restore the plan and design of all three without difficulty. The largest of them is 70 m long by 25 m broad, and has 6 columns in front and 18 in length, a very unusual proportion. All these are hexastyle and peripteral. Besides these three temples there is a small temple or Aedicula, of a different plan, but also of the Doric order. No other remains of buildings, beyond mere fragments and foundations, can be traced within the walls; but the outlines of two large edifices, built of squared stones and in a massive style, are distinctly traceable outside the walls, near the northeast and northwest angles of the city, though their nature or purpose is unclear.
But much the most remarkable of the ruins at Selinus are those of three temples on the hill to the east, which do not appear to have been included in the city, but, as was often the case, were built on this neighbouring eminence, so as to front the city itself. All these temples are considerably larger than any of the three above described; and the most northerly of them is one of the largest of which we have any remains. It had 8 columns in front and 17 in the sides, and was of the kind called pseudo-dipteral. Its length was 110 m, and its breadth 55 m, so that it was actually longer than the great Temple of Olympian Zeus at Agrigentum, though not equal to it in breadth. From the columns being only partially fluted, as well as from other signs, it is clear that it never was completed; but all the more important parts of the structure were finished, and it must have certainly been one of the most imposing fabrics in antiquity. Only three of the columns are now standing, and these imperfect; but the whole area is filled up with a heap of fallen masses, portions of columns, capitals, and other huge architectural fragments, all of the most massive character, and forming, as observed by Swinburne, one of the most gigantic and sublime ruins imaginable. The two other temples are also prostrate, but the ruins have fallen with such regularity that the portions of almost every column lie on the ground as they have fallen; and it is not only easy to restore the plan and design of the two edifices, but it appears as if they could be rebuilt with little difficulty. These temples, though greatly inferior to their gigantic neighbour, were still larger than that at Segesta, and even exceed the great temple of Neptune at Paestum; so that the three, when standing, must have presented a spectacle unrivalled in antiquity. All these buildings may be safely referred to a period anterior to the Carthaginian conquest (409 BCE), though the three temples last described appear to have been all of them of later date than those within the walls of the city. This is proved, among other circumstances, by the sculptured metopes, several of which have been discovered and extricated from among the fallen fragments. Of these sculptures, those which belonged to the temples within the walls, present a very peculiar and archaic style of art, and are universally recognised as among the earliest extant specimens of Greek sculpture. (They are figured by Müller, Denkmäler, pl. 4, 5, as well as in many other works, and casts of them are in the British Museum.) Those, on the contrary, which have been found among the ruins of the temple on the opposite hill, are of a later and more advanced style, though still retaining considerable remains of the stiffness of the earliest art. Besides the interest attached to these Selinuntine metopes from their important bearing on the history of Greek sculpture, the remains of these temples are of value as affording the most unequivocal testimony to the use of painting, both for the architectural decoration of the temples, and as applied to the sculptures with which they were adorned. A very full and detailed account of the ruins at Selinus is given in the Duke of Serra di Falco's Antichità Siciliane, vol. ii., which contains a detailed plan of the site. A more general description of them will be found in Swinburne's Travels, vol. ii. pp. 242-45; Smyth's Sicily, pp. 219-21; and other works on Sicily in general. A plan is also presented in Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography.

The coins of Selinus are numerous and various. The earliest, as already mentioned, bear merely the figure of a parsley-leaf on the obverse. Those of somewhat later date represent a figure sacrificing on an altar, which is consecrated to Aesculapius, as indicated by a cock which stands below it. The subject of this type evidently refers to a story related by Diogenes Laertius (viii. 2. § 11) that the Selinuntines were afflicted with a pestilence from the marshy character of the lands adjoining the neighboring river, but that this was cured by works of drainage, suggested by Empedocles. A figure standing on some coins is the river-god Selinus, which was thus made conducive to the salubrity of the city.


Soluntum or Solus (Greek: Σολόεις, Thuc.; Σολοῦς, Diod.: Eth. Σολουντῖνος, Diod., but coins have Σολοντῖνος; Italian Solunto) was an ancient city of Sicily, one of the three chief Phoenician settlements in the island, situated on the north coast, about 18 km east of Panormus (modern Palermo), and immediately to the east of the bold promontory called Capo Zafferano. It lay 200 m above sea level, on the southeast side of Monte Catalfano (380 m), in a naturally strong situation, and commanding a fine view. Some scholars contend that Soluntum and Solus were two different cities at close quarters, Soluntum, higher upon the hillside, being a later habitation displacing the earlier settlement of Solus, at a lower elevation. Its current site is at the località of Solanto in the comune of Santa Flavia.

The date of its first occupation is, like that of Panormus (Palermo), unknown. From its proximity to Panormus, Soluntum was one of the few colonies that the Phoenicians retained when they gave way before the advance of the Greek colonies in Sicily, and withdrew to the northwest corner of the island. (Thuc. vi. 2.) It afterwards passed together with Panormus and Motya into the hands of the Carthaginians, or at least became a dependency of that people. It continued steadfast to the Carthaginian alliance even in 397 BCE, when the formidable armanent of Dionysius shook the fidelity of most of their allies (Diod. xiv. 48); its territory was in consequence ravaged by Dionysius, but without effect. At a later period of the war (396 BCE) it was betrayed into the hands of that despot (Id. 78), but probably soon fell again into the power of the Carthaginians. It was certainly one of the cities that usually formed part of their dominions in the island; and in 307 BCE it was given up by them to the soldiers and mercenaries of Agathocles, who had made peace with the Carthaginians when abandoned by their leader in Africa. (Diod. xx. 69.) During the First Punic War we find it still subject to Carthage, and it was not till after the fall of Panormus that Soluntum also opened its gates to the Romans. (Id. xxiii.) It continued to subsist under the Roman dominion as a municipal town, but apparently one of no great importance, as its name is only slightly and occasicnally mentioned by Cicero. (Verr. ii. 42, iii. 43.) But it is still noticed both by Pliny and Ptolemy (Plin. iii. 8. s. 14; Ptol. iii. 4. § 3, where the name is corruptly written Ὀλουλίς), as well as at a later period by the Itineraries, which place it 12 miles from Panormus and 12 from Thermae (modern Termini Imerese). (Itin. Ant. p. 91; Tab. Peut.) Soluntum minted coins in antiquity. It is probable that its complete destruction dates from the time of the Saracens.

Excavations and remains
Excavations have brought to light considerable remains of the ancient town, belonging entirely to the Roman period, and a good deal still remains unexplored. The traces of two ancient roads, paved with large blocks of stone, which led up to the city, may still be followed, and the whole summit of Monte Catalfano is covered with fragments of ancient walls and foundations of buildings. Among these may be traced the remains of two temples, of which some capitals and portions of friezes, have been discovered. An archaic oriental Artemis sitting between a lion and a panther, found here, is in the museum at Palermo, with other antiquities from this site. An inscription, erected by the citizens in honor of Fulvia Plautilla, the wife of Caracalla, was found there in 1857. With the exception of the winding road by which the town was approached on the south, the streets, despite the unevenness of the ground, which in places is so steep that steps have to be introduced, are laid out regularly, running from east to west and from north to south, and intersecting at right angles. They are as a rule paved with slabs of stone. The houses were constructed of rough walling, which was afterwards plastered over; the natural rock is often used for the lower part of the walls. One of the largest of them, with a peristyle, is currently, though wrongly, called the gymnasium. Near the top of the town are some cisterns cut in the rock, and at the summit is a larger house than usual, with mosaic pavements and paintings on its walls. Several sepulchres also have been found.


Erice is a historic town in the province of Trapani in Sicily, Italy.

Erice is located on top of Mount Erice, at around 750m above sea level, overlooking the city of Trapani, the low western coast towards Marsala, the dramatic Punta del Saraceno and Capo san Vito to the north-east, and the Aegadian Islands on Sicily's north-western coast, providing spectacular views.

The ancient name of Erice was Eryx, and its foundation was associated with the eponymous Greek hero Eryx. It was not a Greek colony, but was largely Hellenized. It was destroyed in the First Punic War by the Carthaginians, and from then on declined in importance.

Main sights
In the northeastern portion of the city there are the remains of ancient Elymian and Phoenician walls indicating different stages of settlement and occupation in antiquity.
There are two castles that remain in the city: Pepoli Castle, which dates from Saracen times, and the Venus Castle, dating from the Norman period, built on top of the ancient Temple of Venus, where Venus Ericina was worshipped. According to legend, the temple was founded by Aeneas. It was well-known throughout the Mediterranean area in the ancient age, and an important cult was celebrated in it. In his book On the Nature of Animals, Aelian writes that animals chosen for sacrifice would voluntarily walk up to the altar to be killed.
The Gondola lift chairs up to the top of Erice are closed from mid January to mid March.


Agrigento (Girgenti in Sicilian) is a city on the southern coast of Sicily, Italy, and capital of the province of Agrigento. It is renowned as the site of the ancient Greek city of Akragras (a.k.a. Acragas in Greek, Agrigentum in Latin, and Kerkent in Arabic), one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia during the golden age of Ancient Greece.

Agrigento was founded on a plateau overlooking the sea, with two nearby rivers, the Hypsas and the Akragas, and a ridge to the north offering a degree of natural fortification. Its establishment took place around 582-580 BC and is attributed to Greek colonists from Gela, who named it Akragas. The meaning of the word is unclear, though the stock commonplace referred to an eponymous legendary founder, an Akragante, apparently no more than a retrospective etiological myth for an obscure name.
Akragas grew rapidly, becoming one of the richest and most famous of the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia. It came to prominence under the sixth-century tyrants Phalaris and Theron, and became a democracy after the overthrow of Theron's son Thrasydaeus. Although the city remained neutral in the conflict between Athens and Syracuse, its democracy was overthrown when the city was sacked by the Carthaginians in 406 BC. Akragas never fully recovered its former status, though it revived to some extent under Timoleon in the latter part of the fourth century.

The city was sacked by both the Romans and the Carthaginians in the third century— the Romans in 262 BCE and the Carthaginians in 255 BC. It suffered badly during the Second Punic War (218-201 BC) when both Rome and Carthage fought to control it. The Romans eventually captured Akragas in 210 and renamed it Agrigentum, although it remained a largely Greek-speaking community for centuries thereafter. It became prosperous again under Roman rule and its inhabitants received full Roman citizenship following the death of Julius Caesar in 44 BC.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the city passed into the hands of the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy and then the Byzantine Empire. During this period the inhabitants of Agrigentum largely abandoned the lower parts of the city and moved up to the former acropolis, at the top of the hill. The reasons for this move are unclear but were probably related to the destructive coastal raids of the Saracens, Berbers and other peoples around this time. In 828 CE the Saracens captured the diminished remnant of the city. They pronounced its name as Kerkent in Arabic; it was thus Sicilianized as "Girgenti". It retained this name until 1927, when Mussolini's government reintroduced an Italianized version of the Latin name.
Agrigento was captured by the Normans under Count Roger I in 1087, who established a Latin bishopric there. The population declined during much of the medieval period but revived somewhat after the 18th century. In 1860, the inhabitants enthusiastically supported Giuseppe Garibaldi in his campaign to unify Italy (the Risorgimento). The city suffered a number of destructive bombing raids during the Second World War.

Agrigento is a major tourist center due to its extraordinarily rich archaeological legacy. It also serves as an agricultural centre for the surrounding region. Sulphur and potash have been mined locally since Roman times and are exported from the nearby harbour of Porto Empedocle (named after the philosopher Empedocles who lived in ancient Akragas). However, it is one of the poorest towns in Italy on a per capita income basis and has a long-standing problem with organised crime, particularly involving the Mafia and the smuggling of illegal drugs.

Main sights
Archaeological Area of Agrigento*
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Ancient Akragas covers a huge area — much of which is still unexcavated today — but is exemplified by the famous Valle dei Templi ("Valley of the Temples", a misnomer, as it is a ridge, rather than a valley). This comprises a large sacred area on the south side of the ancient city where seven monumental Greek temples in the Doric style were constructed during the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. Now excavated and partially restored, they constitute some of the largest and best-preserved ancient Greek buildings outside of Greece itself. They are listed as a World Heritage Site.
The best-preserved of the temples are two very similar buildings traditionally attributed to the goddesses Juno Lacinia and Concordia (though archaeologists believe this attribution to be incorrect). The latter temple is remarkably intact, due to its having been converted into a Christian church in 597 CE. Both were constructed to a peripteral hexastyle design. The area around the Temple of Concordia was later re-used by early Christians as a catacomb, with tombs hewn out of the rocky cliffs and outcrops.
The other temples are much more fragmentary, having been toppled by earthquakes long ago and quarried for their stones. The largest by far is the Temple of Olympian Zeus, built to commemorate the Battle of Himera in 480 BCE: it is believed to have been the largest Doric temple ever built. Although it was apparently used, it appears never to have been completed; construction was abandoned after the Cathaginian invasion of 406 BCE. The remains of the temple were extensively quarried in the eighteenth century to build the jetties of Porto Empedocle. Temples dedicated to Hephaestus, Heracles and Asclepius were also constructed in the sacred area, which includes a sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone (formerly known as the Temple of Castor and Pollux); the marks of the fires set by the Carthaginians in 406 BCE can still be seen on the sanctuary's stones.
Many other Hellenistic and Roman sites can be found in and around the town. These include a pre-Hellenic cave sanctuary near a Temple of Demeter, over which the Church of San Biagio was built. A late Hellenistic funerary monument erroneously labelled the "Tomb of Theron" is situated just outside the sacred area, and a first-century CE heroon (heroic shrine) adjoins the thirteenth-century Church of San Nicola a short distance to the north. A sizeable area of the Greco-Roman city has also been excavated, and several classical necropolises and quarries are still extant.
Much of present-day Agrigento is modern but it still retains a number of medieval and Baroque buildings. These include the fourteenth century cathedral and the thirteenth century Church of Santa Maria dei Greci ("Our Lady of the Greeks"), again standing on the site of an ancient Greek temple (hence the name). The town also has a notable archaeological museum displaying finds from the ancient city.