A large decapitated fish staring at the camera with its giant eye.

If fresh seafood is your thing, then the Catania Fish Market is your heaven on earth.

Seafood is an important part of Sicilian cuisine, as you might expect from a Mediterranean island. The fish market in Catania is one of Italy’s largest and dates back to the early 19th century. Since then, the tradition hasn’t changed much.

Every morning (except Sundays), fishermen bring their catches from around the island to the Catania Fish Market. People flock to the market to see what they can score or just to observe. It’s very popular with locals, and tourists are more than welcome too.

Even as someone who dislikes seafood, the market was an experience I wouldn’t want to miss. As I walked through the stalls, I was surrounded by the unmistakable smells and metallic sights of fish. 

Gray and brown squid for sale, looking at the camera

There was sea life of all kinds for sale, including octopuses, squids, shellfish, urchins, rays, and small sharks. And of course, there were many, many varieties of fish. I wouldn’t be able to name them all, but it’s not hard to find out what’s available. The vendors aren’t shy about announcing what they have.

A large bowl of snails.

Everywhere I went, I heard the shouts of fishmongers trying to attract customers with grand arm gestures. Buyers negotiated prices as they decided what to serve to their families and restaurant guests that night.

Small fish with red-orange eyes on display at the Catania Fish Market.

Friendly and in good spirits, each vendor seemed happy to be there and proud of their offerings. Based on my experiences, they encapsulated the Sicilian people well: warm and hardworking.

A sitting fishmonger looks at the camera in front of a pile of small silver fish at the Catania Fish Market.
A fishmonger smiles behind his long silver fish coiled up into circles at the Catania Fish Market.

Loud voices mingled with the sounds of huge knives hitting chopping boards. It seemed every few seconds a blade came down on a fish before its blood was quickly washed away.

A fishmonger slices fish with a large blade on a wooden board. He uses his other hand to wipe away blood.

If you don’t eat seafood, don’t worry. There’s something for you too! Every now and then I came across a stall selling chicken and other meats. There’s also an entire section of the market dedicated to fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and other vegetarian products from different regions of Sicily.

A vendor stands near the meat he's selling with a smile on his face.

With all of the different sights, sounds, and smells, the market was an adventure for the senses. It was crowded, it was messy, and it was at times overwhelming. It was full of quality food and genuine people.

It was exactly the way a market should be.

The fish market’s opening hours are every morning from 7 AM to 2 PM, Monday through Saturday. It is located behind the Amenano Fountain at Piazza del Duomo. If you’re lost, ask a local where you can find “La Pescheria,” or simply follow your nose.