Bang in the middle of the Ionian coast, CATANIA is Sicily’s second-largest city, a major transport hub, a thriving commercial centre, and a lively, energetic place with a more international outlook than Palermo. Defined by Etna – even the city’s main street is named after the volcano – and the ubiquitous black-grey volcanic stone in pavements and buildings, there’s more openness and space than in Palermo, but far less to see, as the ancient and medieval city was engulfed by lava in 1669, and then devastated by an earthquake in 1693. Spearheaded by architect Giovanni Vaccarini, Catania was rebuilt swiftly and on a grand scale, making full use of the lava that had been the old city’s nemesis.