Sicily – Catania – Stile Liberty architecture

One of my favourite architectural styles that I always try to seek out in Italian cities is Stile Liberty, the Italian version of Art Nouveau (although the term is a reference to the Liberty department store in London). As Catania grew, new neighbourhoods were added to the north of the Baroque centre so you’ll find a whole avenue of Stile Liberty villas along Viale Regina Margherita and some more just to the west of Villa Bellini park. I’ve placed those buildings in geographical order, so you could view them as part of a walk, but there are a few examples in the centre, and I begin with those in no particular order. You’ll find everywhere mentioned on my Google map, as pins marked by a small house (key top left).

Beginning in the centre of town…

Negozio Frigeri (Tommaso Malerba, circa 1909), 6 Via Collegiata/90 Via Manzoni

Palazzo Mazzoni (Tommaso Malerba 1904), 83 Via Umberto I

In Italian this style is known as Neomoresca, or Neomoorish, or what in Spain is known as Neo-Mudéjar (see this Seville post for examples).

Palazzo Rosa (Fabio Majorana 1903/1905), 15 Via VI Aprile

And just over the road…

Fontana di Proserpina (sculptor Giulio Moschetti 1904), Via VI April (immediately south west of Stazione Centrale)

The fountain depicts the Rape of Proserpina, a traditional Sicilian myth. ‘Rape’ here means abducted or carried off in the Latin sense, rather than suffering sexual violence. Unusually the fountain is made of concrete rather than bronze or stone which saved a lot of expense.

Sangiorgi Theatre (Salvatore Giuffrida 1900), 233 Via Antonino Di Sangiuliano

Inside the stuccos and decorations are by the Neapolitan painter Salvatore Di Gregorio.

Away from the centre, you could walk all the following buildings in order. There’s a little Neoclassical mixed in.

Villino Citelli (Paolo Lanzerotti and Salvatore Sciuto Patti, 1904-1907), 31 Via Salvatore Tomaselli

I read this building is in Eclectic Gothic-oriental style which seems a bit of a catch-all description.

The two principal architects of Stile Liberty in Catania were Ernesto Basile and his prolific pupil Francesco Fichera. Fichera is responsible for several of the following buildings.

Villa Marjorana (Francesco Fichera, 1911-1913), 36 Via Androne

Interestingly, for me, I read that Fichera’s hexagonal turret was an influence from the Viennese secession (my post here), although I’m not quite sure how.

Villa de Luca (Francesco Fichera, 1915), 38 Via Androne

Sanatorium Clementi aka Clinica Clementi (Carlo Sada, 1901 to 1904), Piazza Santa Maria di Gesù

Sada was also responsible for the Bellini Theatre in town (see previous post), was well as Villa Alonso Viselli below.

Villa Cutore Recupero (1899-1904), 20 Viale Regina Margherita

Villa Modica (1880), 35 Viale Regina Margherita

Apparently there’s an impressive Roman mausoleum in the garden which can be visited by appointment with the owners, although I don’t know how you’d get their contact details (incorrect website link on Google maps).

Villino Cali (1908?), 31 Viale Regina Margherita

Villa Alonso Viselli (Carlo Sada, circa 1870), 10 Viale Regina Margherita

Another work from the Bellini Theatre man.

Villa Trigona di Misterbianco (Filadelfo Fichera, 1909), 6 Viale Regina Margherita

Istituto De Felice (Fichera, 1926-1929), 4 Piazza Roma

The institute is a later representation of Neoclassical Eclectic rather than Stile Liberty but included as another example of Fichera’s work on this walk.

The simplicity of 13 Viale XX Settembre (no info) makes it look more Deco than anything else I’d say.

Palazzo Terranova (Cantarella, early 1900s?), 72 Viale XX Settembre

The beautiful corner section on Piazza Trento was replaced by a modern hotel which, sadly, is the one my employer sometimes uses.

Palazzo Di Stefano (1900-1930), 48/50 Viale XX Settembre

Can’t find any info on this one but it looks Neoclassical and the statues hint at the fascist period.

Villa Reina Miranda (Filadelfo Fichera, 1906-1908),

The tower of this famous Fichera building is described in Italian as ‘neonormanna’ (neo-Norman).

Palazzina della Società Elettrica (Fichera 1903), 12 Piazza Trento

Unknown (no info), 30 Via Aloi

Palazzo Marano Agatino (no info), 199 Via Umberto I

I think I got this one confused with Palazzo Marano Giuffrida, another Tommaso Malerba building just up the road at 272 Via Umberto I (which I missed), but I still like the window decoration on this one.

Garage Musmeci (Francesco Fichera), Piazza Giovanni Bovio (on the corner of Via Francesco Crispi and Via Conte di Torino)

From here you could go north again to Villa Manganelli at 41 Corso Italia (a Basile classic), but I forgot!

Villa Del Grado aka Villa Cocuzza (Agatino Atanasio, 1903-1908), 209 Corso Italia

And finally, as I have nowehere else to put it, one of the few examples of Art Decò in Catania…

Cineteatro Odeon (Carmelo Aloisi, 1931), 19 Via Filippo Corridoni

Next time I need to go inside to see the domed ceilings decorated with ‘cubo-futurist’ designs.

Some lovely buildings I hope you’ll agree. Now for the even older stuff…

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