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A`Piscaria-Catania | Over Two Centuries of a Bustling Sicilian Outdoor Fish Market.

Visiting A`Piscaria of Catania is something unique and extremely fascinating,
a local emblem narrating over two centuries of a bustling Sicilian outdoor fishmarket, a great highlight of that marvellous and sunny city kissed by the Mediterranean Ionian Sea and dominated on another side by the majestic Volcano Etna still active which destroyed with its eruptions in several occasions that jewel of the ancient Magna Graecia founded by Hellenic colonists many centuries ago and in that iconic place you will live a special and exciting experience.

A notorious song by Giuseppe Castiglia, a famous songwriter dedicated one of his works to that enchanting big municipality of Sicily titled Che Bedda Catania which translated means how is beautiful Catania, that melody contains some lyrics which totally represent the history, profile and soul of the second centre of that Region behind Palermo.

Catania Figghiozza du Patre Eternu is a phrase which appears in that work and those words translated are Catania is daughter of God, all that is perfectly identified in the local historic stages when the Etna lava buried numerous times the old Katane as was called by the notorious philosopher and historian Plutarch. Despite those sad events that city has always found a renaissance  how to reborn as a miracle and to be so beautiful than ever with its emblematic landmarks which continue to shine as before or probably more.

Catania undoubtedly has thousand lives, if it was since many centuries ago a shimmering gem of the Greek civilisation in the times of the emblematic Megale Hellas and later outstanding centre during the period linked to the Roman Empire conserving relevant architectural masterpieces and rests of those ancient colonists today it is a diamond of Baroque Art declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO with other centres of Sicily. (I wrote an extensive post about that city in the case you want to know some information more)

That iconic fish market established on the soil of that superb centre has in its kind some common affinities to all that. Since its inception it had not not an easy start due some difficulties in determined periods generated by rulers who never gave it a notable relevance, times closely linked to economic crisis, the escalation of new other  emergent related to fishing activities in more recent times but despite it has always been able to survive and including to grow up while others have closed or extremely reduced their size and business.

A`Piscaria during its history won many adversities and it enlarged its capacity with a big number of new stalls with an affluence year by year in constant increasing  and it is more vivacious and animated than ever all year and also for that it could be considered an icon.

Many are the local symbols, apart the imposing Volcano Etna and the Ionian Sea absolutely wonderful at that latitude which strongly compete for the podium in a ranking in terms of attractions with other great monuments such as U Liotru, the statue of the Elephant, Ursino Castle, Bellini Theatre and House, Sant´Agata Cathedral and the Greek ruins among others.

Despite that next to all those architectural and monumental beauties there is also that market, an emblem because in its kind it is a masterpiece not projected, designed and made by famed architects or great artists but by ordinary people, a place which thanks to its eternally bustling and vibrant atmosphere, fresh, delicious sea products which conquered and conquer everybody.

Glorious Hellenic stronghold, bewitching the Romans for its beauty, birthplace of the great composer Vincenzo Bellini, and eminent historic character linked to the most sublime Opera who delighted with his music the globe and in the case that divine musician was a folk author he could certainly invent something related to A´Piscaria.

The squares, streets and beaches of that sunny Italian city are superb marvels but also that site related to fishing sale providing delights which satisfy the most exigent palates is so captivating and around it you will breathe the truest feelings of the city´s life.

But what is A´Piscaria ? The answer could be many things such as the soul of a busy fisheries industry with an identity extremely rooted, a superb protagonist of a notable commercial business, an eternal reality arouse and alive which will never die and something which born with the efforts of the locals without financial supports.

In addition it historically lived over two centuries linked to different monarchies such the Bourbons and the Savoy Royal Houses, a Republic and also with the new Italy established in 1861. If we can find a full reply, that local distinctive icon is Catania identifying its distinguished spirit we could say never tired to live, showing all its vibrant and lively atmosphere every time it takes place, an colourful reality and daughter of a secular tradition.

Its history is more than attractive and captivating since its inception when it was established in the early 19th century, exactly in 1814 in an area corresponding to the medieval walls which encircled the city also called Walls of Charles V to pay homage to that figure who was Duke of Burgundy, ruler of The Netherlands and Spain and Holy Emperor in the 16th century.

The Spanish rulers during the times of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies permitted the fishermen and sellers its development with a veiled indifference. The creation of that activity at the border of the historic monumental centre was for them something to keep people very active and busy in a silent movement of hard workers which could bring a business to the Royal House.

All that was managed by local families related to the former fisheries born along the Catania  coastline to give the city its own big market place, ideal site to start to operate and have a revenue. A`Piscaria is totally 100% Catanese established and developed generation by generation by native citizens and also for that it is an authentic local pride born and bred in the shade of the Volcano Etna.

In addition worth a special mention that   A´Piscaria never had economic helps, economic supports by the rulers; the Spaniards dictated only a condition which was that to arrange that market in a limited and specific area, no further or additional branches, no projects or ideas of prolongations or other further requests.

Its position in the urban setting despite those strict former limitations is excellent, close to the busy square Piazza Alonzo di Benedetto and just behind the famous Fontana dell´Anemano, a beautiful masterpiece consisting in a magnificent monumental fountain made by the Neapolitan master Tito Angelini in 1867 that all the citizens call Acqua e linzolu, the water and sheet for the water descending forming an image which from a perspective appears similar in shape to a sort of transparent sheet.

Situated in the vicinity of Piazza Pardo another municipal focal point and the road which directly leads to the Marina next to one of its historic gates, the famed Porta Uzeda which since ancient times it was one of the main accesses to the centre and Via Dusmet a street so famous for its seven arches. In that area in addition you are also just two steps from the bustling boulevard Via Garibaldi one of the liveliest local arteries with the notorious Via Etnea.

You will notice furthermore that the fish market is enclosed in the city heart just 250, 0 metres south west of the Cathedral, approximately 100, 0 metres of the Giardini Pacini gardens and about 350, 0 metres from the iconic Ursino Castle and at the same distance there are the banks of the harbour facing the Mediterranean.

All that explain you in which concrete point  t A´Piscaria was established and that space is practically corresponds to a a section of the core in which the first Hellenic colonists developed the plan of the former Polis in proximity of the cardus and decumanus, the main axes of the city setting created by the Romans as beating centre of their social and political  life.

Another relevant detail is that the surface is just 5,5 meters above the sea level, all that because that space was totally rebuilt after the eruption of the Etna which destroyed the city in the 17th century exactly in the year 1669.

That emblematic, colourful and lively Sicilian outdoor fish market is deeply bonded in the local cultural life and all people who decide to visit Catania can not forget A`Piscaria because it is like to miss a part of its history. It has always been a major centre linked to Tonnare and Spadare respectively Tuna and Swordfish fishing considered since their development among the best in the world for how they are organised.

The local fishermen depart from that Oriental coast of Sicily and with a secular tradition born a long time ago they reach during their trips geographic maritime spaces not far from the coasts of Libya, Greece, Egypt, Malta and Tunisia and all that since over centuries ago. 

Long navigations with all the risks of all what the high sea involves and after those operations they return to the mainland with a very high quality of catch which is sold in the markets as that one which is one the most important of the island serving several renowned Restaurants, Hotels and a multitude of ordinary customers all them extremely satisfied in terms of quality and price.

All the operations on the ground are perfectly planned because when the boasts are moored on the local banks the vendors are there waiting for and the distance to reach the stalls are just some hundreds metres away. The products before to reach  A´Piscaria is meticulously controlled and checked by experts and after that it is transported to the market permitting a customer to buy those delights every early morning.

Thanks to all that great coordinate great work with superb protagonist men constantly facing that maritime harsh life with all its pitfalls, so many people  can enjoy and taste among the best food the Mediterranean offers.

Unique in its kind in Sicily compared in some cases to the other famous market called Vucciria which takes place in Palermo, they different one from other, both fascinating, both not be missed when you are planning to visit that beautiful island.

Another relevant detail part of the history and culture of A´Piscaria is that the tuna, swordfish, shrimp clams, mussels, octopus and everything which offers that site is unique. The catch exposed there comes from places in which the Mediterranean has a total absence of pollution and contamination so 100% healthy and uncontaminated.

All the workers network perfectly know what is the best to satisfy the most demanding requests and there is also a sort of ethical code to delight the clients, the vendors are extremely sensitive to the continuation of a history with an image to defend and preserve serving a large clientele, among them several loyal customers including catering establishments of prestige.

Healthy products and eating well with the satisfaction to see people returning extremely happy is part of the business but also personal satisfaction, the clients know they are in the hands of great people and that is another aspect of relevance which continues to elevate A´Piscaria a more than appreciate site boasting a very high reputation.

You will never find there closed mussels, anchovies or blue fish with sunken eyes or the ward off, no strange tonalities of the skin, the colour of the shrimp of  that place does not fades into.The Swordfish is among the best you can find in the entire Mediterranean basin so visible at the first cut. Looking at the quality of its pulp and meat you will immediately see how it is healthy just like during the cutting of a section of the best tuna sold which is never too dark.

Octopus and crab alive are also superb details which immediately attract who are looking for something of extremely great just like the supreme prawns immediately ready to prepare a delicious sauce or cocktails rich in taste and highly guaranteed.

The professionalism is a highlight and you will see in that bustling market also fish of small size which is alive on the stalls. All that assures and convinces all the clients who decide to buy superb delights in the city and  A`Piscaria is in that without equals.

Those over two centuries of history have crown that place as a King, someone consider it as a lively monument and icon,  the sellers are authentic masters, if you want they cut the fish as you prefer in terms of sections, strings and slices and with a simple incision the fish bone is extracted if someone desires that.

They do all that with experience, passion and art and another detail always greatly appreciated is that if you need suggestions they will advise you what is the best offer to prepare a seafood soup, a prawn and mussel salad, a marinated starter or a mixed fritto misto, an exquisite mixed fried fish.

All that is the result of generations of families who have made history, from Giuseppe to Tonino, from Franco to Mario all them know the fish as a mechanic  knows the engine of a car or an IT engineer knows software and computing devices and that is also the great secret and success of the famed A´ Piscaria.

Someone says that to enjoy a day in that bustling Sicilian outdoor fish market is just like to be in a Souk.In that picturesque, vibrant and lively atmosphere what most attracts the attention of the people who visit it for the first time that market place are the screams of the vendors and they do not understand why or for which reason they do that.

The sellers simply use colourful expressions in Siculo, the Sicilian dialect and that shouting is simply to attract the visitors informing them that in their stalls there is the best swordfish or to come to see and admire with your eyes a tuna which landed on the ground at 05 am in the morning and transported there just some hours later.

Others call potential clients to check the superb colour of a great octopus and to be in hurry before it will be sold in a while or for the last kilogrammes of fresh mussels ready to prepare a tastefully recipe. That place is simple A`Piscaria, the same happens in Barcelona Athens, Naples, Marseilles or Tunis, all them with different local realities but with the same aim and mission, that to satisfy daily the customers.

Undoubtedly that fish market is something unique and for a tourist is a must, it lives six days a week and only Sunday does not take place. The fascinating air all around is more than captivating and don't be afraid regarding noise or for the blood of the fish coming from the wooden and marble surfaces, all that is part of the daily life serving a myriad of people who later will enjoy a delicious plate.

A´Piscaria has always left in the eyes and memories of every visitor indelible and unforgettable memories and for that it is so special.In the case the stunning Catania is in your future holidays plans I added some links useful for your plans.

For its particular scenery that site also entered in the most traditional and genuine local folklore, filmed in documentaries video clips and DVD, promoted as landmark presented in a set of pictures by professional photographers, highlighted in tourist magazines and described in different kind of press articles and reports.

Also the Film industry fell in love with  A´Piscaria when the famous German  Director and filmmaker Margarethe Von Trotta selected it as set for some scenes of the movie Anni di Piombo ,The years of Lead produced in 1981 and which won the prestigious Golden Lion the highest prize awarding the winner of the Venice Film Festival.

If you are planning to visit Catania admiring its extraordinary artistic and historic beauties, rich cultural life, an impressive scenery with the imposing Volcano Etna ad its spectacular valley, wonderful beaches and crystalline Ionian waters under a shining sun are all things which will delight you and apart all that do not forget a visit enjoying A`Piscaria, an experience you will remember with pleasure forever.

Francesco Mari

Useful links

Why Amsterdam has the soul of Rembrandt within it.

 Amsterdam and Rembrandt : the Dutch capital and one of the most brilliant painters of the 17th century.The Dutch city is known to all for being a big tourist destination, a city rich in attractions, history,culture, ,entertainment, nightlife an alternative tourism for all. Without doubt there are many details,coincidences and things in common between Amsterdam and the talented artist born in Leiden but adopted by the city of the canals on the river Amstel.

Rembrandt was a versatile painter, he knew choose in his masterpieces environments and places of different social class,,from a noble palace with aristocrats to most popular sites, such as common roads and streets for all,Amsterdam is versatile as Rembrandt,it will show you how in a short distance from the majestic Royal Place, from the elegant Hotel Krasnapolsky buildings,from the luxury and impressive buildings a few meters away there are Dam Platz, a square that is the focal point for the meetings of tourists and locals, Damrak which is a cosmopolitan road with its ethnic restaurants of all types and for all tastes and a big variety of shops where you can find everything.

The genius from Leiden was an eclectic artist knew how to move on from the enthusiasm to the sadness, from the curiosity of some faces expressions,which were often difficult to identify,curious as this great artists mixed in his cycles Religion and Noble Power,High and Low Social classes,the mystery of other as in some of his portraits and self portraits.Amsterdam is also eclectic,its vibrant and lively without pause in Leidseplein, located a short distance near Prinsengracht is Anne Frank House which recall the tragic fate of the Jewish community of the city,

Amsterdam is also curious in its expressions in some of its several extravagant museums and details of urban architecture and at the same time,mysterious, recalling the legend of, "Kogge". hat boat with two men and a dog on board which shipwrecked on the shores of the Amstel river and found themselves in that territory that is the current Dutch, city of the mysteries of the charming area of Begijnhof, famous for its religious history and the Catholic Religious order without votes,place where many people were miraculously recovered.
The expressions of Amsterdam may vary in a few meters exactly as Rembrandt changed its scenarios,you exit from the Rijksmuseum magnificent museum which contains masterpieces of the great masters of the past and works of art by the ancient Egypt and in front of you,so close in the same Museumplein square is located the Stedelijk Museum, the Museum of Modern Art or Amsterdam is very Dutch in the area of Hendrikkade and within walking distance there is De Pijp a cosmopolitan district with ethnic groups of different geographical origin.

The great Dutch Master was able to create masterpieces with a change of colours,lights and shadows,and Amsterdam also offers this.All within walking in a short distance from the shining lights of the lively Rembrandtplein to the shadows of the fascinating Vondelpark by night, from the colours of its flower markets in the Singel to the dark nights of the nearby Kerk Straat beside the channel of Keizers Gracht.

Amsterdam is a city known for De Wallen its Red Light district and in many ways transgressive, Rembrandt was also transgressive as in some of his masterpieces as Suzanne de Badende or Proof Rembrandt.

Rembrandt was a brilliant artist, a genius creates works of art thanks to his instincts and his improvisation and the city of Amsterdam creates events,exhibitions, meetings genius and extravagant that make it a unique city also in this.The Dutch capital is a tolerant city that does not look which kind of face someone has,never critical as someone dresses, or what someone thinks,it opens its doors and Rembrandt in his way of being, in its style was very tolerant,he never criticised or attacked other artists and people,Rembrandt never  copied styles he was not a slave of trends,he created his style,that great artist did not want to be another, he wanted to be himself just as Amsterdam,the Dutch Capital does not copy another.

Amsterdam fought long time to save itself from the waters of the sea and Rembrandt fought to gain prestige with his unique talent just like the Amsterdammers fought against the power of the sea and then created a city where was so difficult to build one.

Rembrandt was a brilliant artist, a genius,able to create works with every subject of art thanks to his instinct and his improvisation and Amsterdam creates events,exhibitions,meetings about economy,finance,business, sport,culture,music and shows some bizarre and extravagant but for all people and tourists,all that make it an unique city,unique in its style as that great Master called  Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn.

Francesco Mari

Lyon -The charming city of Rhône-Alpes and the great music star Sting in concert in an unforgettable 9th November 2012 night.

 Lyon,captivating and charming city,the most important metropolis of the Region of Rhone Alpes and ancient capital of the Roman Gallia,an unique city all to enjoy with its magnificent Basilique de Notre Dame de Fourvière and the wonderful medieval district Vieux Lyon all to enjoy and visit meter by meter and many other attractions is waiting for the day 09th November the great Sting in concert.

The British rock star former leader of the legendary band of the Police 16 Grammies in his magnificent music career will be prptagonist at the Halle Tony Garnier the Lyon Concert Hall.

It is a great event a fantastic combination,a wonderful city embracing one of the most famous stars in the history of music,a great eclectic talented artist so able and versatile to change styles of music,from rock to New Age,from Jazz to Reggae and influences of Blue during his long and glorious career.

Lyon will embrace Sting very soon in an unforgettable event celebrating a magic night of great music.
Francesco Mari

Travel with Me: Algarve-Portugal.Why it is so easy to fall in love...

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Gallarate-A Tip.A very interesting Antiquities Market to visit if you are planning to travel to Milan and you are directed to Milan Malpensa Airport.

There is a lot of people who love when they travel to take home nice and interesting souvenirs to embellish their home, there are also people who love to find something really typical and of excellent quality,the research of the antiques,of an ancient object is something that fascinates many people.It is always very nice to find an Arabesque chandelier,a furniture style 1800,an old Swiss Cucu clock,a Louis XIV mirror,some rare pieces of collection and collectibles of 150 years old or older.

If you are travelling to traveling near Milan and sunday you are directed to the airport of Milan Malpensa,a few kilometers from the airport only 10 minutes by car there is the city of Gallarate.

In the center of this city the third Sunday of each month is celebrated in the central Piazza della Libertà,Il mercato dell´Antichitá e dell´Antico (the market does not take place in the months of July and August) the Market of Antiquities and Ancient objects a very interesting market with more than 120 stalls where you can find interesting objects of various periods, old and popular handicraft items old and popular,ancient furnitures and old pieces of collection.

The market is right next to the beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta a beautiful,majestic church dated 1st century after Christ with impressive works by Master Morazzone inside,very close also the Medieval Church of San Francesco a splendid example of Lombard Romanesque art and the Church of San Pietro, a small masterpiece in neo-gothic style.

It is an idea to combine cultural tourism to a antique shopping tourism with the opportunity to find something really interesting to buy and bring home at the end of your trip.

Francesco Mari

Cortina d’ Ampezzo | Great Booking Exploit for Summer

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