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PaternÚ is located in proximity to Etna volcano, at 256 m a.s.l. It has a population of some 50,000 inhabitants. It is a city of agricultural importance with outstanding export of citrus fruits and outputs of cereals, vegetables and tomatoes. Industry is as much important, notably the food, pasta and packaging factories. The city is also a thriving craft centre, notably related to moulded clay, lava stone, wrought iron and wood objects.
Here, in 1073, a lava-stone castle was built at Count Roger Iís behest. Restructured during the first half of the 14th century, it can be visited entirely. It features a solid-looking structure with a rising tower. Inside, it is divided into three levels. On the ground floor is a chapel, on the first floor there is an elegant hall graced by four mullioned-windows. Another fine hall with mullioned windows is on the second floor. A large terrace tops the building. It was the property of the Anjous, inhabited by Eleonora Aragona and Martino ďthe youngĒ. It later belonged to the Henriquez, the Speciales and the Moncadas. Almost 35 metres tall, with tickest walls and a rectangular shape, it was a fortress part of a broader defensive plan by the Count Roger.
The Mother Church is dedicated to Santa Maria dellíAlto. Of Norman origin, it was rebuilt in 1342 on a basical plan in the Romanesque style. The central nave is barrel-vaulted whereas the lateral ones are cross-vaulted. The faÁade is divided into three parts. At its centre is a lava-stone portal with a window above; on the sides are two pairs of archs, the left one containing bells. The interior, divided into three naves, houses a fine chapel that contains a beautiful wooden Crucifix of the 17th century.
The church dedicated to the Annunciation is also known as Chiesa del Monastero. It dates back to the 1600ís and preserves some precious 1500ís, 1600ís and 1700ís altarpieces.
Nearby is the 1500ís Church of Santa Barbara, in the square of the same name. Its faÁade is complete with a loggia with statues of Saint Peter and Saint Paul on its sides. The inside, dominated by a large cupola, is decorated with numerous valuable paintings.
PaternÚ has other interesting buildings, such as the 1500ís Chiesa del Cristo al Monte, the 1700ís Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie, the Church and Convent of San Francesco, the latter reduced to few ruins, the Chiesa della Madonna del Rosario, the Chiesa del Carmine, the 1600ís Chiesa di Santa Caterina and the 1700ís Chiesa di Santa Margherita.
PaternÚ is a city with long-standing traditions, boasting a rich calendar of interesting events. The patron saint Santa Barbara is celebrated by a whole week of religious and sporting events. Easterís Holy Week is equally longed for; the Procession of the Images of Our Lady of Sorrows and the Dead Christ on Holy Friday is particularly worth-seeing. The city is also famous for its Carnival, with processions of allegorical floats through the main streets.
PaternÚ boasts an ancient history. Excavations at the area have brough to light relics dating from the Neolithic Age, some historian asserting that the city grew on the ancient Hybla Gaelatis. The earliest documented record dates back to the Arab and the, successive, Norman dominations.