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Tur audioThe Archaeological Collection

Since 1934, this castle hosts the collection of Catania's civic museum: at the inside of this imposing structure, you can admire a vast collection of archeological artifacts coming from private collections built in the 18th century: the most conpiscuous are that of the Benedictine fathers - founded by the abbot Vito Amico and the prior Placido Scammacca - and that of Ignazio Paternò Castello, prince of Biscari.

The Benedectine fathers had collected, in the somptuous S. Nicolò monastery, Greek and Roman materials recovered in Catania or purchased in Naples and Rome's antiquarian markets and objects brought by missionaries coming back from the "Orient." As described elsewhere, their collection was given to the city of Catania in 1866.

Almost in the same period in which the monks were building up their collection, the Catanese patrician Ignazio Paternò Castello, 5th prince of Biscari and prominent personality of the Sicilian Enlightenment culture, was forming in his Marina palace a real museum with archaeological materials coming from important excavations in the urban area of Catania, such as the Roman theatre, the forum, the Achillian therms under the Cathedral, and Piazza Dante’s therms and nymphaeum. He executed other excavations in his family’s land, in the ancient Camarina, and also bought materials in Naples, Rome, and Florence’s antique markets. Among the most precious works of the Biscari collection are splendid Attic vases, archaic terracotta figurines, and bronzes.

From the 18th century, both these collections attracted many writers and travellers of the Grand Tour, such as Goethe and Brydone. 

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