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Like other Sicilian cities, it has been heavily influenced by its rulers – Romans, Arabs, and Normans to name a few. The largest impact came from its neighbour, the volcano Etna – when it erupted in 1669 it devastated the city and killed 12,000 inhabitants. Catania was rebuilt in the Baroque style preserved to this day, complete with large boulevards and squares.
Over the last few years, tourism has become one of the biggest sources of revenue. With the sixth largest airport in Italy, Catania is a natural hub for tourists travelling to the island’s east coast. It is easy to take day trips from here to the spectacular Mount Etna, to the ceramics centre of Caltagirone, and to the picturesque mountain villages like Randozza and Linguaglossa. There is also Sicily’s most glamorous tourist town, the Roman city of Taormina with its medieval city centre, where D.H. Lawrence wrote "Lady Chatterley’s Lover."