Romano House Luxury Hotel
History of Catania
A thousand-year history

The origins of the city of Catania date back to the ancient Greek colony of Calcidesi di Naxos. The Calcidesi settled on the slopes of Etna in 729 B.C., and the first settlements were born in the place where today is the Benedictine monastery. Here the acropolis developed until 476 BC, when it was conquered by the tyrant of Syracuse, Gerone, who after confining its inhabitants to Lentini, imposed the name "Etna" on the city. But the reaction of the Calcidesi was immediate: in 461 a.C. reconquered and rebuilt the place to which they returned the name of "Catania or Catina" - the name, according to Plutarco, means "grater", indicating the lava nature of the land on which the city stands. From this moment on Catania suffered eight other destructions, mostly of natural origin: eruptions and earthquakes. Half destroyed by an eruption in 121 BC, during the Roman consulate of Marco Emilio and Lucio Aurelio, it was completely looted by the propraver Verre. In the Roman period the city experienced moments of such great splendor, thanks to the construction of the theater and the forum, the baths and the circus, the amphitheater and the gymnasium, which was counted among the twenty most important cities in the Mediterranean world.

Later, with the succession of occupations by Vandali, Ostrogoths Goths and Arabs, Catania suffered a period of decline; flourished during the Norman period, but the terrible earthquake of 1169, followed by an eruption during which the lava reached the sea and the castle of Aci, devastated the city and caused many victims.

The reconstruction was immediate, but by the hand of Henry IV the city was sacked and partly destroyed. Another explosion of imperial anger was due to the umpteenth destruction of the city in 1232 by Frederick II of Swabia, who ordered Catania to be sent for revenge on the attempt to join the league of the Guelph cities, and had it built in 1239 the Ursino Castle, still existing today. It was during the reign of Frederick II that Catania had its first municipal coat of arms, depicting the mythical elephant that still today is the symbol of the city. After Fedetico II it was the turn of the Angevins and later of the Aragonese, who named Catania as the capital of the Kingdom of Sicily and remained there until 1411.