«The sea has not even a country, and belongs to all who are listening«. Catania has a relationship with the sea that is as deep as it is complicated. Giovanni Verga, already knew this, when in his line from «I Malavoglia« or «Unwillingness« quoted above, he describes a custom that people from Catania get used to doing already from childhood: looking out at sea. In summer, in spring, in autumn, or in winter. The sea near Etna is different in every season. It’s a difference that you grasp by watching it from afar, while the waves hit up against the black rocks made of Etna’s lava. But, the best places to look out at the Mediterranean are hardly ever on the tourist itineraries found in guidebooks. For this reason, in these places you are sure to find only people who were born and bred in this city.
There is no place that captures Catania better than «il molo di Levante« or the pier in the port of Ragusa. It’s located inside the port and you get there through the entrance on Via Dusmet or from the metro stop. It is, indeed, a pier. On good sunny days — which are most days in Sicily, in fact — it’s the most beautiful spot in the city, according to me. You have the sea in front of you and Aetna behind. The domes of the most beautiful buildings stand out amidst the houses. Could you ask for anything more? There are those who go jogging here in the morning and those who instead venture out on the breakwater for a quick lunch. Then, there are also the fishermen. You’d never guess, but many are young university students looking for bit of tranquility.
I can’t do anything about it. Any «porticciolo« or small port, which has remained looking like one, wins my instant, warm, heartfelt affection. It reminds me that I live in a city that was built on its relationship with the sea and this makes me feel even more of an islander. Or, as Carmen Consoli (the singer who has raised up the name of Catania fairly throughout the world) has said, it makes me feel even more of a «siren«. That is. unable to bear being far from the beach. And it’s like that at the port of Ognina, with the small fishing boats named after women and the seagulls skimming just above the water. There, the city bobs on the sea.
It wins you over with its beauty during the day and at night because it’s the most romantic place that exits. The «belvedere« or overlook of Santa Caterina is a bit outside Catania. To get there, you need to go by auto and travel for about fifteen minutes to the port of Acireale. You then stop in the little piazza with its pair of benches. railing, and the sea below. You can also go down to the sea, if you want, because there are steps –nearly 500– that bring you down to the beach made of black stones. Historically, the belvedere was the point to watch out for enemy ships trying to set anchor in Catania. Today you look down on the surrounding nature reserve. It’s one of the most suggestive places in eastern Sicily.