Catania (2)

We decided to spend our last day back in Catania.   Not that there was a lot more to see, but to check that it wasn’t a mirage.

We started at the Porta Garibaldi which is just visible in the distance from the Duomo.   Built in 1768 to commemorate the wdding of Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies to Maria Carolina of Habsburg-Lorraine, it was designed in full neo-classical glory by Stefano Ittar and Francesco Battaglia:-

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Catania

We went to Catania in order to go to the railway station.   None of the guidebooks had prepared us for how astonishing the historic centre is – grand, extensive, blackened with age and the use of lava stone, full of dilapidated churches, long axial streets and well preserved squares (the Cadogan Guide describes it as ‘a blackening lava-paved inferno of trash, crime and despair’).   The presiding genius is not Gaglieri, but Giovan Battista Vaccarini, who was born in Palermo, trained in Rome under Carlo Fontana and settled in Catania in 1730 where he was responsible for much of the best architecture and town planning.

We began and ended at the Cathedral by Vaccarini:-

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Scicli

We had been planning to have lunch in Scicli yesterday, but went today instead.   It’s not quite so ostentatious in its charms, but not without them either.   We had lunch by the weirdly overblown Palazzo Beneventano:-

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Mòdica (2)

We went back to Mòdica on a grey Saturday because we realised that we had managed to miss the cathedral in Mòdica Alta, the grandest of its buildings and another work attributed to Rosario Gagliardi:-

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Marzamemi

We went this morning on Susie Huxley’s recommendation to Marzamemi, a charming, small, out-of-season fishing port, full of empty restaurants and shops selling tins of tuna, infinitely preferable to Portopalo, our other destination:-

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