Portofino and Catania, Italy
On the coast of the Ligurian Sea, in that part of the Italian Riviera called the Levante, there is a small charming town of Portofino. This paradise, immersed in emerald colors of lush greenery and sparkling sea, was founded by the Romans, who called it Portus Delphini or Dolphin Port – because of the many dolphins that live in the Gulf of Tigullio. In 1200, Portofino was part of the Republic of Genoa, several centuries later, it was sold by the French king Charles VI to the Republic of Florence, in 1815 it became part of the Kingdom of Sardinia, and in 1861 the city became part of the United Kingdom of Italy. At the end of the 19th century, European aristocracy began to come to this corner for vacation, and since the 1950s, the small fishing village has turned into a luxurious and prestigious resort. The town is also interesting for lovers of historical and architectural sights, the main of which is undoubtedly the legendary bronze statue “Christ from the Abyss” (“Il Cristo degli Abissi”), created by Guido Galletti and installed in the bay of the ancient abbey of San Fruttuoso at a depth of 17 m. in 1954. The blessing Christ looks from the depths into the sky, stretching up his hands in a sign of peace. Another attraction is the majestic Castello Brown on top of a cliff, built in the 16th century to protect the city. Today the castle houses a museum. It is also interesting to visit the church of St. Martin (Divo Martino), built in the XII century, the church of the patron saint of Portofino – St. George, where valuable relics are kept, and the chapel of St. Mary (Santa Maria Assunta), made in the Gothic style. fairytale nature.
“Go to the foot of Monte Rosso and climb to the top… The view from there is wonderful and the visibility is very good, everything else is better to learn from the stories.” Goethe’s “Italian Journey”
Catania is located on the shores of the azure sea, at the foot of Mount Etna, which determined the uniqueness of this legendary city, most of which is built of lava. Ancient Catania was founded by Greek colonists from Chalkis in 729 BC. e. In 476 BC. e. the city was conquered by the tyrant of Syracuse, Heron I, who expelled all its inhabitants and renamed the city Aitna. In 403 B.C. another Syracusan tyrant sold the inhabitants of the city into slavery. So Catania was subordinate to Syracuse until the beginning of the 3rd century. – until 263 BC, when the city passed to the Romans. However, after the fall of Rome, Byzantium ruled the city for 300 years. Then, in 827, the Arabs captured it, and in 1071, power passed to the Normans. In 1169, Catania experienced a terrible earthquake, then a fire that destroyed part of the city, and in 1669, the strongest eruption of Mount Etna, after which the city was buried under a layer of lava and ash. However, the inhabitants restored Catania, and in the middle of the 19th century it became part of the United Italy. The city continues to develop at a rapid pace, and today it is not only a famous Sicilian resort, but also one of the European centers for the development of high technologies. There are many historical and architectural sights in Catania.
In the center of the city is the Cathedral Square with an architectural complex in the Baroque style. In the center of the square rises the symbol of Catania – the Fountain with a black elephant, created from lava and decorated with an Egyptian obelisk on the back. Here on the square there are two buildings of the middle of the 18th century – the City Hall or the Elephant Palace (Palazzo degli Elefanti) and the Seminary Palace (Palazzo del Seminario), as well as the Cathedral, erected in the 11th century on the ruins of Roman baths and then rebuilt in the Baroque style. The interior of the cathedral is impressive, including the tomb of Vincenzo Bellini and the Chapel of St. Agatha, dedicated to the patroness of Catania.
The majestic fortress of Ursino (castello Ursino) was built in 1239-1250. under Frederick II. In the XVI century, the castle was the residence of the Aragonese kings. It is interesting to note that initially the fortress was located on the seashore, but after the eruption of Etna in 1669, the lava extended the coast for a considerable distance, moving the structure deep into the city. Today the castle houses a museum. Also on the hillside are excavations of an ancient Roman amphitheater, which in the Roman era could accommodate up to 7,000 spectators. The magnificent building of the Bellini Theater was built in the classical style in the second half of the 19th century according to the design of the architects Skala and Sada. The theater is named after the great composer Vincenzo Bellini, who was born in Catania.
And in Catania there is a wonderful botanical garden, beautiful beaches, comfortable hotels, fashionable boutiques, excellent restaurants and cafes where you can taste local specialties – chocolate granita and alla Norma pasta, as well as much more that will leave unforgettable impressions about your vacation on this wonderful Sicilian resort.