Catania's Modern Renaissance
After WWII and the closing of the profitable Sicilian sulfur mines (where many men in our family worked), thousands of struggling Sicilian families relocated from countryside and mountain villages to Catania to find jobs (including ours).
They moved to small flats in the historic center (where Cummari is located), an area first established by the Greeks in the 8th century BC (you can visit a Greek theater literally swallowed by modern day buildings just down the road from Cummari). It was a district for the poor, yet displayed the powerful Baroque architecture of the 1700s, built after Etna's eruption of 1669 (look out for black volcanic rock poking out of buildings on our street).
In the 1970/80s, with the expansion of the Italian middle class, fashionable new "suburbs" and high-rise buildings attracted families to relocate from the historic center. Despite this exodus, however, the historic center has remained nearly the same for centuries.
Traditional fresh fish and outdoor markets continue to thrive and each day the patisserie displays fresh cannoli and cassata di Sant’Agata (little cakes that represent the breasts, nipples and all of Saint Agatha the protector of Catania).
It wasn't until almost 10 years after the global economic crisis of 2008, that Catania’s historic district would begin its modern cultural renaissance. Similar to the transformations of Brooklyn in New York City, or the Wedding district of Berlin 15+ years ago, Catania's historic district currently is experiencing a major shift.
International investors have arrived to Catania and younger Sicilians are opening local businesses, instead of heading directly to Milan as they have for 30+ years. New art districts, cultural centers, galleries, wineries, coworking spaces and cafes are opening so fast, it is difficult to keep up. Even international music festivals, like Ricci Weekender base in Catania each summer attracting sexy festival goers from around the world to Catania.
The once grey and gritty road of Via Gemmellaro next to the Catania's open air market is now filled with twinkle lights and cozy tables for two. Via San. Michele has turned into Catania's "art street," dominated by female owned businesses and galleries, and the San Berillo district, formerly for sex workers, now hosts an artistic piazza. Here you can share a pizza and glass of wine for under 10 euro (a margarita pizza in Sicily generally costs 5 - 7 euro).
Living in Catania as an expat for coworking, coliving or simply as a solo traveller you will experience the old authentic Sicily and a new emerging Sicily. You will join the thousands of foodies, history buffs, artists and nomadic travellers who already have Catania on their top destination list, and keep coming back to see what has changed.
At Cummari, we guide our guests to authentic Sicilian experiences, so that when they live at Cummari in Catania they live like a local. Check out Cummari's recommended restaurants, bars and cafes on our personalized map.