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Giarre, province of Catania, is an important agricultural and commercial centre. It boasts major outputs of produce, cherry, wine and flowers. It lies at 81 m a.s.l. and totals about 28,000 inhabitants.
Giarre is also a city of cultural and historical importance, with many worth-visiting sites.
The Mother Church – The first stop of the city tour regards the stately Mother Church, dedicated to Isidoro Agricola, the patron saint of Giarre. It has a neoclassical style, with two square bell-towers. Its construction started in 1794 and ended almost a century later. It has a latin-cross plan divided into three naves. It preserves interesting works such 1700’s and 1800’s paintings and a precious red tapestry.
The Oratory Church is a fine church in the Sicilian Rococo style.
The Corso – The via Callipoli, the city thoroughfare, is lined by fine shops and palazzi in Liberty, Neoclassical and Baroque style, dating from between the 19th and the 20th century. Amongst them are the Liberty Palazzetto Bonaventura (no. 170), and, at no. 154, Palazzo Quattrocchi with Moorish decorations.
A number of “Belvedere” (panoramic terraces) offers tremendous vistas over the Etna volcano and the Macchia Creek.
The city surroundings also host interesting and charming sites. Among these is the Shrine of Santa Maria la Strada, built in 1081 by Count Roger to thank the Virgin after the victory over the Arabians. In the Macchia area is the Museo degli Usi e Costumi delle Genti dell’Etna, a museum of the customs and habits of people from Etna, with a faithful reproduction of a typical farm of the past century.
The area is endowed with sites of naturalistic interest as well. Indeed Giarre is included into the Etna Park territory and home to one of the most precious Sicilian oasises.
The Chico Mendes park, by the bed of the Macchia Creek, is another site of environmental and historical interest. Now dominated by Mediterranean bushes it was home to several prehistoric settlements.
Giarre was founded by the Bishop-Count Nicola Maria Caracciolo who, in the late 1500’s, granted these lands on emphyteusis and undertook an extensive reclamation project.
In 1815 the city became autonomous from the city of Mascali. It was unified to the neighboring Riposto, the two towns ultimately divided at the end of the Second World War.