Dispatch: The Catania Fish Market

It’s the largest fish market in Sicily, and by far the biggest I’ve ever seen. The Catania Fish Market—La Pescheria—is as old as the city itself, and a great way to experience the rich fishing and seafood culture of Sicily. There, you’ll find pretty much every fish, crustacean and mollusk imaginable. 

The swords of giant swordfish heads stand up from tables, and fresh tuna steaks and crates of oysters are all in abundance as fishmongers toss water onto their catch to keep it fresh. What pictures don’t capture though is the cacophony of sellers— joking, talking, bargaining— that echoes off of the ancient buildings, the smells and the soaked stone ground. It’s a full sensory experience

A trip to Sicily is a trip through history. You see the influence of so many different cultures, the Greeks, the Romans and the Arab as well. Catania is no different. Originally founded in 729 B.C, Catania is a scruffy city that’s had its fair share of tragedy. In 1693, Mt. Etna erupted and flooded the city with lava, killing some 12,000 people. Soon after, in 1693, an earthquake hit killing 20,000. 

Using the laval to rebuild, Catania’s architecture is distinctly black and white. The baroque buildings are crafted from black lava stone and white limestone, creating an Oreo effect. 

Throughout all that history, the fish market has been there. Surely the catch has changed over the time, but likely the action—the sights and the sounds—remains just as vibrant as always.