Graffiti of Catania: The most important places of street art

murales porto di catania

Catania is a small city at the foot of the Etna; renowned for its history, from Greek origins up to the present day, it’s one of the most important artistic centers of the Mediterranean sea.

The root of its beauty is undefined: like a phoenix it has been reborn several times from the ashes and rubble of the numerous volcanic eruptions. Today it appears to our eyes as a melànge of tradition and innovation that never ceases to change.

It’s in this atmosphere of scents and traditions that the taste of a new artistic trend is spreading: street art.

Sicilian Magpie wants to take you on a sensory journey through the places of urban innovation:

San Berillo

The small neighborhood was born after the volcanic eruption of 1693 that destroyed much of the town of Catania. Its limits touch the areas of the historic center: from Piazza Stesicoro to the train station.

Originally it was an important multi-purpose center studded with houses and small artisan shops.

In the 1950s, building speculation made it a place on the margins of society. It is said that, in this period, it became the seat of the red-light districts of Catania. This reality is not very far from us, only in last years the Municipality of Catania has been activated in order to re-evaluate this area.

So, through the hands of young artists it became an open-air museum of contemporary art.

Walking through the small streets,center of Catania nightlife, you can see the murals that reproduce, in an allegorical key, the history and myths of the sicilian tradition. Piazza delle Belle is the center of this new artistic agglomeration: the lights of the street lamps guide the observer like in a outdoor gallery.

Port

As a maritime city par excellence, the port of Catania is famous for tourism and commerce, and lately it’s in the news for the national diatribe about landings and immigration.

On June 21st 2015 the Municipality of Catania promotes an initiative: the Art Festival, to improving the crumbling structures of the place that degraded the suggestive landscape.

The old silos of the port were decorated with fascinating graffiti by great international artists (Okuda and Rosh333, Microbo, Bo130, Danilo Bucchi and VladyArt, the duo Intersni Kazki) that follow the myths of tradition: Colapesce, Bellini’s beautiful Muse, the Ulysses’s escape from Polyphemus, the events of Scylla and Charybdis and the Minotaur’s representation.

It’s in our small italian metropolitan city that the world’s largest mural is found: a man with his eyes lost to the Mediterranean Sea decorates eight silos in the center of the port. The work of the portuguese Alexandre Farto, aka “VHILS“, is considered one of the most important works of territory revaluation that gives prestige and luster to the city.

Librino

Since the 1970s, a long and gray expanse of reinforced concrete has spread to the Catania suburbs. Librino with its palaces and public housing is counted for its bad reputation. A degraded and delinquent area par excellence, it finds a glimmer of hope only in recent decades thanks to Antonio Presti’s work, a renowned sicilian patron already known for the construction of the “Fiumara d’Arte” in Tusa (ME).

In this district the largest terracotta street art work depicting the theme of the “Great Mother” stands out.

The artists have worked in collaboration with the children of the neighboring schools, creating a work that extends for more than 500 meters.

The goal of this magnificent initiative is to make people aware, through art, of the place magnificence.

Squib

Largo Paisello was considered for centuries one of the most prestigious places in Catania. Between Via Sant’Euplio and the famous Villa Bellini, we can meet the imposing and elegant fountain designed by Dino Caruso. In recent years, however, neglect and disinterest made this building the meeting place for sicilian writers and skaters. So the great widening became stage and protagonist of the young street artists creative inspiration.

San Giovanni Li Cuti

Next to the seafront, the small beach of San Giovanni Li Cuti is a truly impressive naturalistic landscape. It’s a popular place for tourists and citizens on hot summer days, it remains an evergreen for the romantic view towards the sea.

Here we can found the work of the young streetartist Salvo Ligama, who holds a degree in Graphics from the Academy of Fine Arts. The mural, “Poseidon“, represents the god of the sea in all its manhood and beauty. The reference to mythology is clear: Poseidon, god of the sea and earthquakes, seems to have a connection with the naturalistic elements and the history of our land.

The work, 32 meters long and 2.20 meters high, was inaugurated on June 2 by the mayor Salvo Pogliese, in honor of the LungomareFest.

Martina Spampinato

Andromeda Theater, an art work made by a shepherd

teatro andromeda

Andromeda Theater

Santo Stefano Quisquisina is a medieval small town set in the amazing landscape of Sicani mountans. The embrace between nature and human work makes this town a milestone in the province of Agrigento.

In this place mystic and reality are mixed in Lorenzo Reina‘s story. He was born in 1960 and became a shepherd, according to his father’s wishes. His curiosity and his inspiration aren’t replaced for his humble life: with his sheep and his dogs, in Santo Stefano Quisquisina pastures, he continued to study philosophy, astronomy, science, art and history as a self-taught.

Animal habits intrigued him and soon he realized that, as if they were attracted to an ancestral force, at sunset, they were enchanted by the colors reflected on the natural terrace of Contrada della Rocca.
In this place, nature becomes art and it offered to the shepherd the evocative images of the Agrigento valley and of the sicilian sea.

Here, stone on stone, Lorenzo Reina made one of the most beautiful artistic and architectural work of the last centuries: Andromeda theater.
A Christ on an olive tree, a pity, a lifeless body, masks and faces are sculpted and, like an open-air museum, they decorate a steep path that leads to an imposing wall made of stones.

Within this, one hundred and eight cubes sprinkle the parterre and they reproduce the order of the stars of the Andromeda galaxy.
For its amazing beauty, the architectural project was exhibited at the XVI edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale, and this gave importance and fame to the humble shepherd.

Being able to participate in theatrical performances can be considered a real privilege, but even a

sunset in this magical atmosphere satisfies the visitor’s expectations.
Reina’s visionary work represents a sensory experience, the boundary between reality and metaphysical.

mappa

Martina Spampinato

The legend of Gammazita’s well

Among the narrow streets of via Plebiscito, near the Ursino Castle,a young woman story still echoes: her name is Gammazita and for centuries she’s been the female’s citizens symbol.
In 1282 sicilians rebelled against the Angevin oppressors. Catania and its people also faced the vicissitudes of the Sicilian Vespers.

Gammazita was a young woman who, as a typical Judecca Suttana district’s woman, went to the well in Via San Calogero to draw on water resources.
Here, a French soldier fell in love and tried to abuse her. The young woman, to avoid his advances, threw herself in the darkness of that well, finding death.

The source was located in the centre of commercial activities complex, so its presence was essential for the economic and urban development of the neighborhood. It is thought that its waters were fed by Amenano river rivulets which, in this area, was called Judicello.
On March 3, 1669, a terrible earthquake devastated the Sicilian town, covering it with lava blanket that, get to the city centre, also damaged the ancient well.

For the civic value of Gammazita’s story, considered an exemplum virtutis, the citizens of Catania in the mid-1700s endorsed its recovery.
From inside a courtyard, surrounded by nineteenth-century popular buildings, it’s possible to access to the 62 steps that lead directly to the well, located 14 meters below the road surface.

Despite the current crumbling conditions, the Gammazita’s well remains the beating heart of the old covered city and of the ancient Sicilian ethic, never tame in front of the foreign yoke.

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Martina Spampinato

Cefalù

cefalù

Nested like a rare gem between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the massifs of the Madonie Park, Cefalù is a small medieval town in the province of Palermo (about 70 km away).
In itself it contains the history, art and Sicilian landscape beauty: a seaside resort considered for its suggestive beaches (such as La Caldura and Salinelle) and one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.

It was inhabited since prehistoric times, in the 4th century, it became, a small Hellenistic port. In this period its name was born: Κεφαλοίδιον (Kefaloidion), from the Greek “kefa” or “kefalé”, that means “head”, due to its strategic position on top of the fortress.
It was conquered by the Greek, Syracusan, Roman people, it reached its maximum beauty in the Byzantine era. In this period the urban layout was modified, moving the city centre from the flat land to the fortress. It has been unchanged over the centuries, the cobblestones of the Cefalù’s fortress cover medieval streets, and lead us to the most interesting cultural sites; one of the most important is, without doubt, the Cathedral Basilica of the Transfiguration.

There is a legend that tells us that Ruggero II arrived in the port after a terrible storm and he ordered to build a cathedral in honor to the Holy Savior. Works began in 1131 and in 1145 Ruggero II commissioned mosaics and porphyry sarcophagi destined for his own burial and that of his wife. The architecture is complex: Norman influences (such as the main towers) mix with Arabian and fifteenth-century structures. Inside it is divided into three naves crossed by an imposing transept. The mosaic decoration which is considered the flagship: a Christ Pantocrator dominates the apse, the index and the middle fingers united indicate its human and divine nature, the other joined fingers symbolize the Trinity. The remaining representations are devoted to the figure of the Virgin Mary accompanied by the archangels and other biblical characters. Since 2015, the cathedral has become part of the UNESCO World Heritage.

Cefalù is unique and can’t be missed as a fundamental destination in western Sicily. The famous writer Leonardo Sciascia said: “there is no tourist that traveling through Sicily – even if has little interest in arts- between Palermo and Messina- that doesn’t feel obliged and willing to stop in Cefalù […]”.

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by Martina Spampinato

Villa of Casale, visit of a Roman villa

colonna villa del casale

Villa of Casale: This amazing villa dates back to the 4th century (probably built around 350 B.C). The villa is located a few kilometers from Piazza Armerina (ENNA).

mosaic in villa of casale

This building can be considered one of the finest examples of residential dwelling in Italy. The property of the villa is unknown. Some think that it belonged to an aristocratic governor from Rome, others think that the villa was of an empire official (maybe Marco Erculeo).

mosaic in villa of casale

The excavation that brought the building to light took place in the middle of the 20th century. Villa of Casale is composed of 3500 meters of mosaics, as well as architectural structures such as Columns, Statues and Capitals. The styles with which the mosaics are made are different. Some have clearly an African influence.

mosaic in villa of casale

The site has been recognized as UNESCO heritage and it is for sure, one of the stops to consider in you visit Sicily.

maps

Aci Trezza

It is a section of Aci Castello, in Catania province. This village, originally a place for fisherman, is today a great tourist destination. This is not only for the beautiful landscape that its giant rocks offers, but also because of author Verga’s literature that took inspiration in this marvelous place. This beautiful seaside village is for sure one of the most recommended places to visit in Sicily.

Etna

It’s the highest active volcano on the european continent. With its constant volcanic activity it has strongly influenced the aesthetic conformation of the island and the Sicilians mindset. Etna is rich in easily passable paths and guided tours. Certainly one of the obligatory stops in Sicily.

Taormina

This town located in the province of Messina, it’s certainly one of the visit you should do if you are in Sicily. Taormina is famous because of its position on a hill overlooking the sea with Mount Etna in the background. The village is truly characteristic, with several monuments and a beautiful municipal villa.

Noto

Located in the province of Syracuse, Noto is one of the must when visiting Sicily. Known as the capital of Baroque for its village centre, which can boast of magnificent monumental buildings. A few kilometers from the centre you can find a stretch of coast among the most beautiful in the Syracuse province.