Under the shadow of Mount Etna, “A Muntagna”, lies Catania, a monument to survival and resilience.
Sicilians, a tough bunch, know all about surviving, they’ve managed through 13 invasions of conquerors and countless catastrophic natural events.
Catania was covered entirely with lava in 1669 and ravaged by the great earthquake of 1693. When the town was rebuilt, there was plenty of material close to hand. Lava! The beautiful Baroque architecture was created from the very heart of Etna.
It’s said to be a grey city, but it looked more of a scorched brown to me. The cathedral of Sant’ Agata, however, looked a deep shade of blue every time I went there (and that was a lot of times) but my iPhone recorded the colour as grey. Perhaps my eyes are at fault.
Outside of the cathedral is the symbol of Catania, a lava elephant carrying an obelisk with an enigmatic inscription – MSSHDEPL.
Nobody seems to be quite sure what this inscription means although I was given a number of explanations ranging from an ancient Egyptian hymn to Isis to an acronym for “The mind of St. Agata is sane and spontaneous, honouring God and liberating the city”. Heaven only knows.
Walk under the 17th Century arch of Porta Uzeda, take a few steps to your right and you find Catania’s colourful, bustling and absolutely glorious fish market.
The first photo at the top of this page was taken from a little bar strategically situated next to the steps descending to the market. I’m a dedicated people-watcher and spent a number of happy hours gazing at the activity just below.
Taking a few steps back you can see the bar is an excellent spot for observing the fish market.
At the end of the day there were more seagulls than people. As the vendors began to pack up I lunched on a simple dish of linguine with basil pesto and prawns.
I make this for myself with pistachios in the pesto, but basil would do nicely, as would parsley pesto.
If you use other measurements for cooking, you may want to look at this Online Cooking Unit Conversion
I couldn’t resist leaving you a last picture of Catania. Wherever you are in this city, you can see Etna.