Catania is Sicily’s second largest city (population of approx 300,000) and lies on the Ionian Sea, under the shadow of Mount Etna.
Mount Etna is ever-present and has to a large extent shaped both the history and the actual existence of Catania. Volcanic eruptions destroyed the city on several occassions and after a catastrophic eruption in the late 17th century, the entire old part of town was rebuilt in Baroque style, with large, wide-open squares and avenues. The most remarkable aspect was the building material used: lava. Catania is essentially a “grey” city and unique in the world for this.