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Pedara is a city in proximity to the Southern slopes of Etna volcano, in the Monti Rossi area, where the catastrophic lava flow of 1669 eruption originated. The city is at 610 m a.s.l. and totals about 10,100 inhabitants.
Being an agricultural village mostly relying on grape and fruit production up to few decades ago, Pedara now boasts thriving trade, craft and tourism (in the summer the city population rises up to 25-30,000).
Basilica di Santa Caterina – East of Piazza Don Diego, rises the imposing façade of the Basilica di Santa Caterina, with three fine doorways and flanked by a spired-bell tower. Inside, precious frescoes adorn the pillars, vaults and apses. A painting of the Martyrdom of Santa Caterina, attributed to Mattia Preti, is noteworthy.
Palazzo Baronale Pappalardo – Located in the Piazza Don Diego, dating from the 1600’s, it was the residence of Don Diego Pappalardo, .
The Palazzo Baronale Di Giovanni – On Corso Ara di Giove, stands the Palazzo Baronale, the residence of Princes Di Giovanni.
Minor buildings and surroundings – Also worth-mentioning are the churches of Sant’Antonio, San Biagio, San Vito, Madonna della Stella, Madonna delle Grazie and, atop a hill north of the city, the chiesa dell’Annunziata. The town library, at 126 Corso Ara, holds a patrimony of some 18,000 pieces and a linguistic laboratory of recent date.
The city name likely derives from “Epidauro”, a Greek city with the same environmental characteristics as Pedara; according to other theories, its name derives from its geographical position “ad pedes arae” or “apud aram”, translating “at the foot of the Ara”, presumed to be an altar dedicated to Zeus, on the slopes of Etna. Relics of Greek age were brought to light in the city countryside.
Since the Norman conquest in the 12th century, the village was governed by the Archbishop of Catania. In 1641, the Prince of Trecastagni Domenico di Giovanni was bestowed by Spanish sovereigns the title of Baron of Pedara and entrusted its government and holdings to the Pappalardo family. The economic and cultural growth of the village was much owed to Don Diego Pappalardo (1636-1710)’s policy, who, among other things, completed the Basilica dedicated to Santa Caterina d’Alessandria. Pedara remained a feudal holding of the Di Giovannis and his, heirs, the Alliatas of Villafranca, until the feudalism abolishment in 1812. In 1818 it became a municipality of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.