The Catania Fish Market
Catania's fish market is one of the oldest and grandest in Sicily, with everything from live octopus and eels, to see snails, rays, bins of bivalves, and so many Mediterranean fish. Sardines and swordfish are two of the local specialties, as is tuna, which is farmed in the waters off the coast, and bottarga, a type of cured, salty fish-roe salami that can be served sliced or grated.
Catania itself may not be known as a tourist destination as much as many of the island's other cities: Palermo, Taormina, Siracusa, to name a few. But it is rife with ruins (both Greek and Roman), piazzas, churches, and a bustling food scene. No where is this more evident than at the famed Catania fish market.
Fish and seafood are displayed -- sometimes haphazardly -- in every corner, on every table, and equally fun is watching the fishmongers do their work, deftly wielding razor-sharp knives as they break down the fish that has just come in. Blood and fish parts run in equal measure to the coffee the fishmongers drink and the Sicilian dialect that pours out of every corner.
Karen Herbst, founder and president of The International Kitchen, has traveled extensively, to say the least, visiting numerous continents, countries, and foodie destinations around the world in her thirty-plus years as a travel specialist. She rates the Catania fish market as one of the single most amazing places she's been.
Practical details: the market is open daily except for Sundays, but only in the morning. If you want a really special experience? Let our favorite Sicilian tour guide, Paolo, take you there!
By Peg Kern