A Walk At Taormina.

A Walk At Taormina.

Catania, situated almost midway between Taormina and Syracuse, is like a palimpsest, on which a series of great tragedies has been inscribed, each giving place to its successor, when the parchment had been once again scraped clean by the resistless lava floods of Etna. Its Greek name, signifying "Under Etna," is a concise description of its situation and its history. For ever since its founding by Hellenic colonists more than seven centuries before the Christian era, it has been subject to repeated devastations from the great volcano, the intervals between the lava waves having been frequently enlivened by destructive earthquakes. As in Messina, therefore, there are not many ancient relics in Catania. The earthquake shocks of 1693, for example, so thoroughly destroyed the town that practically all its buildings have been erected since that time. To that catastrophe, indeed, Catania owes its present regularity of plan, its wide streets, and its spacious squares. It is, in fact, the most modern city of Sicily in appearance; and, notwithstanding Etna's evident desire to destroy it, has now a population of one hundred and twenty thousand people. Hence it is next to Palermo in size, and hopes to rival her eventually in commerce. The fact that it already exports one hundred thousand tons of sulphur yearly, besides large quantities of wine and almonds, does not, however, give Catanians such pride as their ability to claim as a fellow-citizen Vincenzo Bellini, the composer of "Norma," "La Sonnambula," and "I Puritani." They are unwearied in their efforts to do honor to his memory. Not only is his tomb in the cathedral an elaborate work of art; a tablet also marks the house where he was born; an admirable theatre bears his name; his statue, with four allegorical figures of his greatest operas, adorns a public square; and the most beautiful garden of the city, commanding a delightful view, is named the "Villa Bellini," and contains his bust, together with those of Mazzini and Cavour. One thinks here of the touching incident, related by Dumas, of his brief interview with the agèd father of Bellini, when theauthorof MonteCristo visited Catania in 1835. " You do not know," exclaimed the father of the composer to Dumas, " how good my son has always been to me. We are not rich; and after each success that he achieves, he sends to me some souvenir, to give to my old age a little happiness and comfort. If you will come to my house, I will show you a quantity of things for which I am indebted to his filial goodness. This watch is the result of 'Norma'; this horse and carriage are a part of my souvenirs of 'I Puritani.' In every letter he tells me always that he is coming; but it is so far from Paris to Catania, that I am very much afraid that I shall die without seeing him again." Poor old man ! The next news of his gifted son which he received announced his early death at thirty-three years of age! Fate had thus given to the memory of Bellini the halo of eternal youth.

The King Of European Volcanoes.

The King Of European Volcanoes.

The Cathedral Of Catania.

The Cathedral Of Catania.

Villa Bellini, Catania.

Villa Bellini, Catania.

Monument To Bellini.

Monument To Bellini.

Tomb Of Bellini, Catania.

Tomb Of Bellini, Catania.

The omnipresent deity of Catania is Etna. Of course the wonderful volcano is visible in many other parts of Sicily, and it undoubtedly appears more beautiful when seen at a greater distance; but in no other city is its awful mass so overpowering as in Catania, from which indeed its crest is, in an air line, only twenty miles away. In fact, Catania's handsomest thoroughfare, two miles in length and called the "Street of Etna," appears to have the mighty mountain as its terminus.

Though somewhat less than eleven thousand feet in height, Etna surpasses in sublimity many loftier peaks in Switzerland, because, unlike those Alpine giants, whose bases rest already on a high plateau, it rises in one grand, majestic sweep directly from the sea, and dominates its island world without a rival. Geologists tell us that its first eruptions took place previous to the Glacial Age, when Frost and Fire were contending for the mastery of our planet. Though neither element has as yet succeeded in obtaining such supremacy, Fire has thus far proved the more disas-trous to humanity. The glaciers shrank back gradually toward the frozen poles, to bide their time, until our globe's internal heat shall have been lost; but all the slowly moving centuries, which have elapsed since their retreat, have not yet quieted the fury of Mount Etna. Both History and Mythology have been its handmaids, - the one recording its terrific outbursts of destruction, the other weaving round its awful form a veil of legendary lore, explanatory of its floods of fire. The old beliefs regarding it were wonderfully weird and powerful. Many supposed that Etna was the forge of Vulcan, where he and his attendant Cyclops manufactured thunderbolts for Jove; but others thought that its stupendous mass held down Enceladus - one of the giants who made war upon the gods. His punishment for this offense was to be buried alive within the glowing heart of the volcano, which at the same time burned and crushed him. Hence, the appalling noises in the mountain were believed to be his groans; and all the fearful earthquakes which occasionally shook the island were caused by his convulsive efforts to arise.