Catania is the second-largest city of Sicily, Italy, and it's the capital of the province which bears its name. Catania is located on the east coast of the island, halfway between Messina and Syracuse and is located at the foot of the active volcano Etna.
The city has also Greek roots. The exact date of its foundation is not recorded, but it appears from Thucydides to have followed shortly after that of Lentini, which he places in 730 BCE. The most important event of its ancient history which has been transmitted to us is the legislation of Charondas, but even of this the date is wholly uncertain.
Its position at the foot of Mount Etna was the source, as Strabo remarks, both of benefits and evils to the city. The violent outbursts of the volcano from time to time desolated great parts of its territory, but the volcanic ashes produced a soil of great fertility, adapted especially for the growth of vines.
One of the most serious calamities of the former class was the eruption of 121 BCE, when great part of its territory 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. The port of Catania, which was in great part filled up by the eruption of 1669, appears to have been in ancient times very frequented and was the main place of export for the corn of the rich neighboring plains.
Mount Etna is an active volcano on the eastern coast of Sicily, close to Messina and Catania. It's the largest active volcano in Europe, currently standing about 3,326 m (10,910 ft) high and it's also the highest mountain south of the Alps.
Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of eruption! Although it was occasionally very destructive, nowadays it's generally considered to be not very dangerous. The fertile volcanic soils support extensive agriculture from ancient times, with vineyards and orchards spread across the lower slopes of the mountain and the broad Plain of Catania to the south.
A very large lava flow from an eruption in 1928 led to the first destruction of a town after the eruption from 1669. In 2002-2003 the biggest series of eruptions for many years threw up a huge column of ash that could easily be seen from space and from the other side of the Mediterranean Sea.
Mount Etna attracts every year many travelers, so town Catania benefits from the volcanoes's popularity. Due to the large number of vacationers that visit this region in Catania and in the surroundings areas have been built many hotels, villas and vacation home rentals.