Sicilian Baroque Catania and the other cities of “Val di Noto”


Catania is a distinguished example of the Sicilian baroque and XVI century post-earthquake reconstruction. The old city still retains the urban layout designed by the Vaccarini architect, with her wide straight boulevards – lanes linking the main Etnea street; with open squares and gardens. Among these scenic streets is the Duomo the true center of the historic city.


Catania is a fascinating city full of life. Every morning, except on Sundays, there is a spectacular fish market in the shade of the most beautiful monuments in the Cathedral square: the Fountain of the Elephant, the unusual artwork of lava stone from the Roman times; the Duomo, which contains the relics of Sant’Agata; the Palazzo del Municipio and the Badia of Sant’Agata.

To reach the market, which is as old as the ancient city itself you will have to search for the stairs in a corner of the square and suddenly you will find yourself immersed in a picturesque and overflowing landscape of vibrant sounds and colors! You will see reds, greens, orange hues of the vegetables and fruits and the brilliant glitter of the fresh fish. Skilled fishermen’s, rugged hands clean and offer the fish on display: octopuses, eel and rows of buckets with snails and clams and many other forms of sea life. I watched them at work and I took my pictures feeling to be part of their work because they were happy to take me in.


Those who visit these places in February can immerse themselves in the unique atmosphere of the Celebrations for Sant’Agata, the holy protector of the city. Catania was rebuilt many times by devastating earthquakes and eruptions of Etna. In paying tribute to Patron Saint’Agata many churches celebrate the Saint from the dawn of February 4th to the 6th with a huge procession – like a human river –that flows through Catania. You will witness devotees all dressed in white, carry heavy-handed waxy candles, holding the fern of the saint or following the candles is a mesmerizing sight to behold!


The celebration of Saint Agatha is the most important religious holiday in the city of Catania, and is the third most celebrated religious holiday in the world after the Holy Week in Seville and Corpus Christi in Cusco, Peru. February 3rd to the 6th more than one million of worshiper and tourists come to Catania every year. My good friends in Catania arranged for me a seat in a balcony from where I could watch and shoot as many photos I liked before joining the crowd.



When in Catania do not forget to visit the Odeon which rises in the historic center, next to the Roman theater, built in the Greek period but restored between the 1st and 2nd century. The Amphitheater and some thermal buildings made of lava stones, belong to this period.

Do not miss to visit the Ursino Castle, founded by Frederick II of Swabia in the 13th century and now a civic museum.

Tommaso Galli  – Photographer and Blogger –

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