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The city of Belpasso, in the province of Catania, has been rebuilt on several occasions, mostly due to volcano Etna’s repeated eruptions. At one time its name was Malpasso. Its current name originates from the last reconstruction following 1693’s earthquake, the centre of the town established in the area of San Nicola, laid out on an orthogonal grid.
Agriculture is the main economic resource of the city; olive, almond and grapes are the major outputs of the farms in the area.
The city offers sites of both artistical and historical interest, such as the Mother Church, dedicated to the Virgin, preserving paintings of the 16th century. The Virgin is celebrated by longed-for events taking place annually on December 12-13, by a procession of allegorical floats through the city streets.
The church of S. Antonio da Padova, too, is decorated with interesting frescoes, notably in the vault. Other buildings deserve a mention, such as the 1700’s Palazzo dei Baroni Bufali di Santa Lucia, externally characterized by baroque masks, the City Theatre, dedicated to Nino Martoglio the beautifully restored 1700’s Palazzo Scrofani, with a splendid wrought-iron balcony, the imposing Palazzo Lombardi-Spina and the native homes of Nino Martoglio and Antonio Russo Giusti.
The area’s Naturalistic sites are as much interesting. Among these are the lava flow trail, from Etna’s last eruption in 1669, and the “Salinelle di San Biagio”, where gas emissions, over the years, have created small mud craters of diverse shape and size. Finally, perhaps the most interesting of all, is the Parco Zoo di Sicilia, at the foot of the Etna, home to many diverse animal communities coming from all around the world. Also worth-mentioning are the many grottos and tubes of the volcano, among which are the well-known Grotta delle Colombe – renowned for its stalactites – and the Grotta Campana. It is advisable to visit the park with a guide. The territory of Belpasso is included in the Etna National Park.