Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Searching for Catania Sicily’s “Pescheria”

While dozens of our fellow cruise passengers opted to head out for Taormina and Mt. Etna, we set out on foot in Catania, Sicily with one ‘must-see' destination in mind.

No, not Catania’s Cathedral, pictured below, although it was quite wonderful. We were seeking its famed “Pescheria” (Fish Market) . . .

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“It is near the Cathedral,” advised both guide books and internet sites we’d studied before our trip. The Cathedral, rebuilt after a 1669 earthquake, was an easy walk of about 20 minutes from the port where we’d disembarked our ship, the Celebrity Silhouette.

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Our ‘sources’ sent us the right direction because from that plaza in front of the Cathedral, we had an overview of the sweeping market and the crush of shoppers who filled the square below us.

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We’d read that this Marcat del Pesche, Fish Market, was probably as old as the city itself.  Much of the fish sold here, we learned, comes  from Italy’s  largest fishing port, Mazara del Vallo, in southwestern Sicily.

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While smaller fishing Sicilian ports also contribute to the seafood selection, for example, anchovies from Sciacca and swordfish from Favignana.

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Big Fish ~ Small fish ~ Everywhere fish. We’ve never seen so many varieties and types of seafood for sale in a single place. 

And this poor guy. . .(sorry, I can’t resist) . . . really lost his head over the market.

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The Fish Market has grown over the decades, with its tasty tentacles spreading out from this square along streets lined with vendors selling fruits and vegetables, dairy and meat products.

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It seemed more a gallery of edible art than street market as we squeezed and turned our way through the crush of shoppers. . .

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Can you tell we love European street markets? Like early morning magnets they draw us to their sights, sounds and smells.  Much like Brigadoon, they appear for a few hours and then are gone each day. 

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We returned to the Pescheria in the early afternoon and this is how that once busy square looked.

If You Go:


Map picture

Since the 18th Century, Catania has been the second largest city in Sicily and the 10th largest in Italy. It was destroyed by a catastrophic earthquake in 1168 and then again in 1693. It’s also suffered from some of Mt. Etna’s eruptions.

The Pescheria is reportedly the second-largest market in Catania. The largest is found in the Piazza Carlo Alberto – which we didn’t make it to on this trip.

The Pescheria is off Piazza Duomo near the cathdral, between Via Garibaldi and Via Pacini. It extends along Via Gemelli Zappala and other surrounding streets.  It is closed afternoons and on Sundays.

That's it for this Travel Photo Thursday, so head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more photos! And if you are looking for some luxury, come back this weekend and we'll show you one place to find it.

34 comments:

  1. What a fun stop. I love open air markets, but have never been to a fish market. I've been to a farmer's market that sold fish, does that count? Hmm...I suppose that's not even close. :)

    Loved the cathedral- did you manage to tour it as well?

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    1. Yes, we did tour the cathedral and it was mighty impressive. (The Fish Market felt like a Farmers Market with all the veggies and fruit on neighboring streets).

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  2. The fish markets in Sicily really are fabulous to visit. The size and selection of fish available is exciting. We saw many of the ones you mention during our trip here but didn't make it to Catania's fish market. At least I have a reason to return!

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    1. I am with you Jenny! Any reason to return and in our case, we didn't see the others. . .I love the reasoning of we travelers!

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  3. I would love to arrive early and walk around while the stalls were setting up, grab and early morning coffee, then make some purchases.

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    1. Oh Jan, I am in such agreement. It's sad when you are on a cruise ship stop and can't buy enough goodies for the night's dinner, but it was a good introduction on a place to return to and set up temporary housekeeping, if even for a day or two!

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  4. I love visiting street markets. They really give you a sense of the local culture. I've only been to the Asian fish markets but this one looks very interesting. My, that's a huge fish head. Although, the cathedral is beautiful too. Love all the vibrant veggie colors here.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by today. I love the Asian fish markets because their smells are so tantalizing but different from those of European markets. . .is it the spice or the veggies, I wonder.

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  5. Love the 'after' shot, Jackie. I've never seen a fish that big. I love markets whether they're in or outdoor. Fascinating places. Thanks for showing us this one.

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    1. Thanks for 'shopping' with me today, Marcia. Have a great week.

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  6. Ooh, I haven't been in Catania in ages, and as it was for work, I didn't really have time to explore much. Remember seeing the cathedral and the Bernini-inspired elephant fountain, but missed out on this lovely-looking fish market.

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    1. Sophie, I am so envious of your location in the world - the idea of going to Catania and other places on my 'must see' list for work, sounds pretty incredible to me! Thanks for stopping by today.

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  7. Street markets are a huge draw for me too! I especially love all the fresh produce. The pile of olives looked divine.

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    1. It was difficult not buying anything to take with us. But the ship's frown on buying food and bringing it on board so sadly all we had were photos to keep those imagined tastes alive.

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  8. What a great "excursion"! We too seek out markets in our travels. Like others have said, you really feel like you are diving right into the local culture with native fruits & veggies, and of course in your case fish. Beautiful surroundings!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by today. I've enjoyed reading of your own Northwest travels with your wee one. You have a nice blog. Hope to see you back here again soon.

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  9. Next time I'm in Italy, I definitely have to hit Sicily: it seems like a country on its own. So gorgeous.

    - Maria Alexandra

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    1. I agree! We've said we need to spend an entire trip in Sicily - way too much to see, smell and hear in one day.

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  10. Markets are such a great place to absorb the culture and foods of other countries. I have never been to Sicily, but yearn to go there one day, so thankyou for taking me along.
    Have a wonderful week, and thank you for stopping by my blog the other day.

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    1. Same wishes for a good week to you, Jill. Happy travels.

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  11. We are going to have to check out this fish market - it looks amazing!

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    1. It really was a pretty incredible place. . .glad we had read about it before the cruise and kept our determined pace until we found it. How goes the preparation for the South Pacific?

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  12. As much as I don't like the smell of fish markets I do love visiting. I'm always in awe at the variety of seafood for sale - and there are so many types I've never seen before.
    Artichokes - now that's something you never see en masse in Calgary.

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    1. Actually, by being outside the smells of the market weren't as intense as those in those large cavernous buildings.

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  13. Thanks for this delightful post; it put a smile on my face. I love markets and your photos and your beautiful and funny writing transported me there. I can sense the smell, the noise, and the chaos of the crowd. I haven't been to Sicily and would be definitely visit a pescheria when I make it there.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by today Marisol. Hope you come back often. . .and make it to Sicily one day.

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  14. That fish head looks pretty big! Markets are great, aren't they? Even if I don't actually buy anything, I love looking around. Just visited a great market in Budapest.

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    1. A great market in Budapest is another reason for us to make up our minds and head that direction one of these days.

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  16. A relative of my childhood best buddy lived in Palermo and would return home with tales of sun, sea, sand and delicious food! Sicily has consequently been on my bucket list for many years. Thank you re igniting my desire to visit. The fresh produce looks delicious!

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    1. And thanks for adding a comment today. We'd love to spend more time in Sicily - way too much to see for just a single day, even in Catania.

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  17. "Lost his head." That's funny. What did the market smell like? My kids hate going to the wet market with me because they don't like the authentic smells emanating from the fish and chicken stalls.

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    1. It really wasn't as bad as it would have been if enclosed. I am not fond of those big cavernous markets when the chicken, meat and fish fill the air with scents either.

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