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The legend – perhaps linked to a story so ancient as to have been lost – tells that the place where Pedara stands today was dedicated to Jupiter, the father of all the gods. And he was celebrated by a magnificent temple, an “ara” which was impossible not to admire. The lands “at the foot of the ara”, in Latin ad pedes arae, became over time Pied’Ara, or Pedara. But if the legend has its roots so far away, the history of this village on the southern side of Mount Etna is a little more recent. Pedara, in fact, begins to be mentioned in the archives from the 13th century onwards. If you are today in eastern Sicily, do not miss a visit to this town which preserves an elegant beauty, medieval architecture, and an airy and beautiful panorama of the volcano.

Pedara and its churches

Pedara was probably built around a small Christian altar which escaped the Arab domination and which later became a parish church in Norman times. It has always fought against the fury of the volcano, which destroyed it through earthquakes and eruptions. The land, however, was among the best for agricolture and for this reason the population promptly returned to rebuild on the spot. Agriculture has always been the center of the town’s economy, and the landowners had their villas here.

Between the 15th and 19th centuries, Pedara saw the birth of many churches. Many have now disappeared, others were meticulously rebuilt after each natural disaster. Today the wonderful basilica of Saint Catherine stands out above all. The eighteenth-century building, created with a skilful mix of black stone and white stone and with teracotta mosaics, stands where the sixteenth-century parish once stood. The Baroque façade is completed by a bell tower with medieval elements, while the interiors are finely decorated and embellished with remarkable art works.

The other important church in Pedara is the Marian Shrine of the Announciation, which is the very first Norman church originally built in 1388. The current building was rebuilt after the great earthquake, between 1694 and 1697, maintaining the same features as the first fifteenth-century restoration. The exterior is simple, and alternates between the black of the lava stone and the pink color of the plaster, while the interior is simple and embellished with a few art works dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries. The devotion to this church in the village is very strong, in fact the Madonna of Announciation remains the first patroness together with Saint Catherine.

Other churches in Pedara are St Antonio Abate, St Biagio, St Vito, Out Lady of Tremonti. But don’t think, for this reason, that the town is just a destination for devoted ladies or art lovers. People also come here to have fun and to enjoy nature.

Pedara of the “Saturday night”

During the early 2000s, Pedara was transformed into a pole of great attraction for the youngest. Thanks to a well-chosen summer nightlife, which captured the attention of Catania vacationers, the local pastry and gastronomy have become famous throughout the province.

In a short time, the historic old part of the town was filled with cafes, trattorias and pubs and thus attracting happy people almost every Saturday evening of the year, not only in summer. And the people come from all over the hinterland. Now imagine your nice evening with an excellent drink, a tasty sandwich and … the view of Etna erupting above the roofs, while good jazz music resounds all around!

In Pedara you can also go shopping by strolling indoors in a delightful little covered gallery that connects the two main squares of the town.

Pedara, gateway to Etna

Surrounded by ancient and recent lava streams, Pedara is one of the “gates to Etna” that allows hiking enthusiasts to venture onto the volcano with ease. Being based in Pedara to visit Etna is a happy idea!

From the town you go up towards the hamlet of Tarderia, immersed in the greenery of chestnut woods and home to many holiday homes and B&Bs. The road that leads to Tarderia also leads to the top of the volcano, following the southern flank for 15 km. Along the way there is the Salto del Cane place, the first base point for the paths of the Etna Regional Park’s territory.

How to get there

To reach Pedara from Catania, by car: choose either the A18 motorway – exit San Gregorio and follow the signs for Paese Etnei and SP8 – or the Provincial Road SP4 which goes up from Canalicchio. From Messina, take the A18 to the San Gregorio exit. The reference airport is Catania Fontanarossa – connected to the small town via the Tangenziale motorway, San Giovanni Galermo exit and then following the signs for Paesi Etnei.

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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