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In the spring of 1943, Allied forces from Britain, USA and Canada landed in Sicily and engaged the troops of Mussolini and Hitler. Today we visited the interesting museum that marks that period of WWII.
It’s an excellent museum with timed entry. We were fortunate to arrive 15 minutes before the next entry. We explored the canons outside the museum while we waited.
On the ground floor the museum has recreated typical buildings of the 1943 era in Catania. There’s a tailor shop, a bedroom, a merchant and a balcony. Playing in the background is period music. The guide described (in Italian) the significance of the different features and then we moved into the air-raid bunker for the highlight of the museum. We sat in darkness, listening to frightened voices and the aerial bombing of the neighborhood. The bunker even shook. One voice deliberated about whether to go to the shelter or stay and defend the home against the thieves that might steal their belongings while they were in the shelter.
Axis forces provided the most resistance in Catania, so it was bombed the most times by Allied planes (over 85 times).
The rest of the exhibition is well-laid out and self guided. The exhibit descriptions are in Italian and English. We saw maps and photos of the invasion, footage of bombings and dioramas. The exhibits of uniforms and weapons of the 5 main groups involved in the fighting in Sicily were interesting. Our children maintained focus throughout and we were in there for over 90 minutes.
The museum is situated in the district known for its chimneys (le Ciminiere). Sulphur was refined here, hence all of the chimneys. It’s not a clean or well-maintained area and many buildings are ruined but we felt safe walking through there.
We had a wonderful lunch across the road from the museum at Café le Ciminiere. We had large servings of delicious pasta with eggplant and tomato sauce, swordfish with green beans and potatoes with bacon and bread and water for only 11€ per adult. Our children ate the pasta and bread with a cold pressed juice while we had the main. All 4 of us were very full and happy afterwards. The children and I had granite too. My coffee granita was great.
We walked, preferring the shade, towards the port after lunch.
Saint Agatha was a Christian virgin martyr. She’s the patron saint of Catania (and some other places) and such calamities as breast cancer, fire, earthquakes, and eruptions of Mount Etna.
As we neared the port saw tourists walking towards the port. There was a cruise ship docked. The silos at the port had a huge mural of a man’s face.
It is as high as a ten-floors building and as wide as a football field. Painted by Portuguese Alexandre Farto (a.k.a. Vhils), the work / portrait celebrates the melting-pot between cultures that have defined the Sicilian identity over the centuries. The author has chosen to represent the gaze of a man who looks to the Mediterranean countries.
It was a bit warm and exposed at the port so we headed for Teatro Bellini. On the way we stopped at Piazza Cutelli to rest in the shade and give our children a chance to play. We didn’t find a bubbler at all today so instead I threw my drinking water at them.
In the piazza outside Teatro Bellini we were happy to find a bar showing the Euro football so we stopped to watch France beat Ireland.
After the game we wandered towards Corso Italia. An alleyway with murals and exposed granite drew us in. Our children climbed on the granite. I wondered why two not very young women in scanty clothing were sitting outside decrepit buildings. As we walked past I assumed they were prostitutes. We walked through a group of young African men playing with a football and turned into a different alleyway, passing a man wearing women’s underwear, a wig and makeup, loitering outside another decrepit building and then another group of young African men. We were like fish in a barrel but no one bothered us.
Catania is a place of inequality. Corso Italia has glitsy show rooms with 1000€+ suits while 3 blocks away people struggle with poverty in crumbling apartment buildings.