Piazza Scammacca Disegno Storico

Located in the heart of the city, behind the Cathedral and the Elephant Square, in Piazza Scammacca there stood a church: the Church of Maria SS. Del Rosario, attached to the convent of Santa Caterina da Siena of the Dominican fathers.


The Foundation

A testamentary provision for the construction of a convent and a church, dedicated to Santa Maria del Rosario since 1643. Thus, in the district of Civita, inhabited at the time by the city's nobility, the convent and the church were built.

The church was adorned with royal stucco and exquisite paintings, completely covered in gold, "with such great magnificence that it became the most beautiful, large, enchanting, and sumptuous church in this city" (AA.VV, Recuperare Catania, edited by Salvatore Barbera, Rome 1998).


The year of the Earthquake.

The first documented historical date is the year of the "Earthquake of Val di Noto," considered the strongest earthquake ever recorded in the entire Italian territory. This catastrophic event caused the destruction of over 45 inhabited centers, and in Catania, 16,000 people died out of a population of approximately 20,000.

"On the eleventh of January at nine o'clock in Acireale, people danced without music, some under the rubble and some under the walls, and some invoked divine mercy."

Many churches disappeared, while others resisted, like this church, supported by the faith and generosity of the brethren. The site already had a marble-columned cloister and a dormitory for the Dominican fathers within it; however, it was not yet complete before that earthquake. It was on that occasion that the construction work for the interior of the church and the construction of the convent began. These works lasted for almost 100 years.


Works completed.

During this period, the Dominican fathers entrusted various Masters with the task of completing and embellishing the interior of the church, which was ultimately finished with its 3 aisles divided by 10 pillars, still visible and perhaps a remaining testimony of its magnificence.

Piazza Scammacca 1856


Theater of bombardment.

The Catanesi clashed against the Bourbon militias, and both the church and the frescoes inside it suffered several rifle shots. The historical period is that of the Italian Unification.


Historical beauty.

In the early years of the 1900s, it was one of the most important churches in Catania, chosen by aristocratic families to celebrate weddings and important religious ceremonies. If it had been restored instead of demolished, it would certainly have been part of the UNESCO Heritage today.


World War II.

This time, it was bombed during the Second World War, but it did not completely collapse. The second order of the main façade, a portion of the side entrance, and part of the central nave were damaged.


Church for sale.

After all the years spent rebuilding it and the significant financial efforts, in July 1951, the Dominican fathers decided to sell everything. There is even a newspaper article about this published in the daily newspaper La Sicilia.

“However, we believe that the damages suffered by the Church, being war-related damages, should be repaired at the expense of the State, thus restoring it to the admiration of the people of Catania.


Acquired by a private individual.

And so, that beautiful place of faith and resilience was purchased by a private individual: Commendatore Mario Barbagallo, who entrusted Engineer Sebastiano Piana with the task of adapting and raising the building for use as a warehouse (on the lower floor) and as his private residence (on the first floor).

In the project, the original existing structure was supposed to be preserved without demolition. That is why today, the internal columns that divided the 3 aisles, part of the sacristy, the main portal of the church, and the room connecting the church to the monastery are still visible.

Further uses of the property:
1978: Verga Foundation
1998: Historical Archive of the Municipality of Catania
2005: Municipal Treasury
Logo Piazza Scammacca


A space that opens up to the city.

church with over 400 years of history that should not be forgotten. For us, it will be a new place for the citizens. The site, like all of Catania, encapsulates the motto of a city that was destroyed and rebuilt nine times, each time more beautiful and resilient, like its outer layer, as it is in its character: "Melior de cinere surgo"

"I am reborn even more beautiful from my ashes."
Read our manifesto.