Catania (Italian: [kaĖtaĖnja] ( listen)) is the second largest city of Sicily after Palermo located on the east coast facing the Ionian Sea. It is the capital of the Metropolitan City of Catania, one of the ten biggest cities in Italy, and the seventh largest metropolitan area in Italy. The population of the city proper is 320,000 while the population of the city's metropolitan area, Metropolitan City of Catania, stood at 1,116,168 inhabitants.
Catania was founded in the 8th century BC by Chalcidians. In 1434, the first university in Sicily was founded in the city. In the 14th century and into the Renaissance period, Catania was one of Italy's most important cultural, artistic and political centres.
The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy. Its old town, besides being one of the biggest examples of baroque architecture in Italy, is a World Heritage Site, protected by UNESCO.
Catania has been a native or adoptive homeland of some of Italy's most famous artists and writers, including composers Vincenzo Bellini and Giovanni Pacini, and writers Giovanni Verga, Luigi Capuana, Federico De Roberto and Nino Martoglio.
The city is the main industrial, logistical and commercial center of Sicily. It is the home of the Catania-Fontanarossa Airport, the largest in Southern Italy.
The city has been buried by lava a total of seventeen 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, different ancient remains can be seen and visited in the city-centre, as part of an archaeological park (Parco Archeologico Greco-Romano di Catania).
The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi backs the Cavea of the Greek-Roman Theatre.
Ancient edifices include:
Roman thermal structures
Roman Thermal Baths of Santa Maria dell'Indirizzo.
Baroque and historical churches
Badìa di Sant'Agata
San Francesco d'Assisi all'Immacolata
Sant'Agata alla Fornace or San Biagio
Santa Maria dell'Aiuto
San Benedetto da Norcia
San Francesco Borgia
The Baroque city centre of Catania is a UNESCO World Heritage Site