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Postcard from Catania, Sicily

The market on Saturday

The market on Saturday, there seemed to be one on every street corner

Può essere appena una cosa di sabato, ma quando siamo andati a Catania che è sembrato come c'era un mercato su ogni angolo di strada. Di un Nord di ora di Siracusa in autobus, Catania ha una popolazione di intorno 300,000.

It may be just a Saturday thing, but when we went to Catania it seemed like there was a market on every street corner. About an hour North of Siracusa by bus, Catania has a population of around 300,000.

It sits under Sicily's volcanic Mount Etna, and with eruptions that occur on average every three years, the city's inhabitants probably keep their eyes on this peak that dominates the landscape.

There is a lot of black volcanic rock used in Catania's buildings, and this gives the city a sombre look, but there are many grand palazzos and wide boulevards to make the city interesting.

We wandered down via Etnea from piazza Della Borsa with its Roman remains, to piazza Duomo and the impressive facade of the cathedral which looks out over the square and Elephant Fountain featuring a black elephant with a raised trunk.

Just around the corner from piazza Doumo is the old fish market, still used today as part of a busy area that retails all types of food. You can spend hours here enjoying the sights and watching the passing parade.

The city was largely rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693, so the major buildings are in the Baroque style.

A few paces away from the piazza Doumo is the church of San Guiliano. There had been a wedding here just before we arrived and the guests were walking down via Crociferi in their fashionable black.

The dome of San Guiliano is wrapped in a gallery from where the nuns could watch the happenings in the street below. This church was built around 1750. Back in this era, most nuns belonged to the aristocracy or the upper middle class. The noble families entrusted the education of their daughters to the nuns and with tradition passing the family's wealth to the eldest brother or daughter, the younger female siblings often found taking the veil something of a necessity.

Opposite San Guiliano is the arts university, housed in a grand old palazzo with a central courtyard. No-one will mind if you have a look around and it will give you some idea of the internal architecture of the palazzo buildings.

We will remember Catania for its markets - the great masses of people crowded into the market lanes, looking for a bargain or just buying their weekly food. The markets add a colour to this city that makes it vibrant and enjoyable.

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