Catania is situated on the Eastern coast of the island, at the base of the active volcano Mount Etna.
The location of Catania at the base of Mount Etna has been the source of both advantages and ill-fated events for the city. On the one hand, the violent volcano eruptions at various intervals have destroyed most of its territory. On the other hand, the volcanic ash has created a highly fertile soil that is specially adapted for cultivating grape-vines.
The Amenano River flows beneath the city, and is only visible in one location, South of Piazza Duomo and from the Longane or Lognina rivers.
The city symbol is the Elephant Fountain or Fontana dell'Elefante, which was put together in 1736 by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. It is made of marble, and depicts an old elephant of lava supporting an Egyptian obelisk from Aswan. The story has it that the original sculpture had a neutral gender, which people in Catania regarded as an insult to their virility. In order to appease them, Vaccarini subsequently added testicles to the elephant.
The Sicilian name of "Liotru" is a deformed version of Heliodorus, who was a magician and a necromancer from Catania. He was a nobleman who, having tried in vain to become the city’s bishop, then became a magician. Legend has it that Heliodorus himself was the elephant’s sculptor. Another legend has it that Heliodorus himself was capable of turning into an elephant.
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