Catania (Sicily), Italy

Mountainous and rugged, Sicily’s highest point is the tip of that infamous firebrand, the still active Mt. Etna at 10,900 feet. As a result Catania is richly layered – buried under lava seven times in recorded history, the modern town sits atop the Roman, with the Greek buried even deeper. During the Renaissance Catania was a flourishing cultural, artistic, and political center, and while nature has conspired to hide the city’s rich history, many sites from all periods remain, including much fine Baroque architecture that makes use of the black volcanic rock Etna has contributed.