Together with Caltagirone and Militello Val di Catania, Catania is enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage Site List as part of the baroque site of the Val di Noto. Catania was the birthplace of musician Vincenzo Bellini, writers Giovanni Verga and Luigi Capuana, and Saint Agatha, a martyr and the patron saint of the town, who is celebrated every year on 5th February with the grand procession of the Candelore (large candle shaped artistic structures). Catania is also the city of Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe, also listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site List for its high naturalistic value. Its imposing cone is often crowned by lapillus or, in winter, capped with snow.
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The stretch of coast extending northwards, beyond Aci Castello, Aci Trezza (with its well known cliffs) and Acireale (standing high on the Timpa promontory), up to Riposto, is also made of volcanic rocks. To the south, instead, are wide and sandy beaches, pine-tree and eucalyptus woods, and dunes dotted with rushes and gillyflowers.
Inland, there are countless charming hamlets and villages; to mention one representing all, Caltagirone stands out for its world-famous Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte, its gardens, villas, squares, palaces and its universally renowned ceramics.
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