From the annual statistics published by the Ministry of the Merchant Navy the constant increase in the arrivals of steamers and sailing-vessels in Catania harbour can be seen.
In the following list we summarize only the movements of the harbour in the year 1898: national siling-vessels, 1,773; foreign sailing-vessels , 62; national steamers , 876; foreign steamers , 471 ; total :3,182”:
This was the punctual report of the movement in the harbour recorded in the pages of an old guibook on Catania. In 1996 fifty-three cruise ships stopped in Catania with a total of 100,000 passengers on board.
A great resource for the town
The modernisation of the harbour and the systemization of the coastline has always been one of the most urgente problems of the Catanese Municipality .Ercole Fischetti (Catania nell’Ottocento . Urbanistica ed edilizia , 1934) writes that :”Among the many problems and decisions facing the Municipality , the greatest and most commendable is undoubtedly that of the mole , where work has been going on since 1835 currently under the direction of the eng. Sciuto.
But the realisation of the harbour structures also called for the rearrangement of the coastal road system , specially along the West bank of the harbour.
The “ Marina Promenade” was certainly not intended for the traffic , it represented instead the one and only recreation and leisure area for the citizens (the Bellini Gardens had not yet been opened ),besides it ran quite distant from the docks of the basin.
In 1842 a grandiose project is conceived : -As the bulding of the mole progresses, a road along the beach becomes indispensable along that stretch referred to as of the round stones and of the Biscari who paid rent for it. By redeeming a wide strip of land along the sea , a road could be constructed
Indeed the traffic tended to move westward , where , to the South of Piazza Marina there had been large Warehouses since the original plan was to extend them southwards , up to the lighthouse ; along this stretch the 1669 lava flow gradually went down towards the sea”.
The harbour of the futureCatania
Harbour is presently in the midst of a period of great expansion ; among the many projects that the Municipal Government intends to accomplish we may recall: the completion on the Eastern Mole of the “Marina Promenade”, stretching another two kilometres as far as the harbour mouth in the open sea ; the estabilishing of new direct connections and the strengthening of coasting-trade by creating a basin that wil improve the existing traffic ; the creation of a basin for pleasure craft , equipped with a tourist harbour to welcome around 1, 000 boats; the connections between the Habour and the town by means of shuttle buses from the Municipal Transport Autority; the development of services for the welcome and accommodation of all tourists travelling on cruises; in this respect tourist guide services will be available from the Harbour into the town , and connections will be created with other Sicilian places of Historical , archaeological , artistic and environmental interest ; the reutilization of the Old Customs Building (completed in 1882 ) for cultural and artistic purposes : The Old Customs is an imposing edifice , of nearly six thousand square meters , ideally illuminated by its “gallery “ which, if equipped with modern services , could also become a monumental entrance into the city of Catania.