Vincenzo Bellini hits the high notes in Catania

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.
Martin Moodie

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An airport does not have to be big to have an excellent commercial offer.

A case in point is Catania-Vincenzo Bellini Airport, located south-west of Catania, the second largest city on the Italian island of Sicily.

The airport’s name pays homage to 19th century opera composer Vincenzo Bellini, dubbed ‘the swan of Catania’, a reference to his long-flowing melodic lines.

The airport has a single double storey terminal building (opened in May 2008) that handles all domestic and international departures and arrivals. It’s Sicily’s busiest airport and the sixth busiest in Italy with more than 6 million passengers in 2010.

I travelled home to London on Christmas Eve and traffic was busy without being hectic.

Not knowing what was on offer airside I opted for the landside food & beverage offer run by Autogrill. Comprising the Ciao restaurant (pictured above) and an adjacent café, it offered a really good, fresh and diverse range of food, complemented by a decent range of wines, beers, soft drinks and waters.

Freshly cooked swordfish steaks and bream fillets, alongside pizzas fresh from the oven and an excellent choice of pastas and sauces. All in a supposedly fast food restaurant. Only in Italy. The mainstream offer was complemented by an appealing range of options for vegetarians and fast, friendly efficient service.

The décor and setting is basic, unpretentious but not unappealing. We got good food in quick time in a clean, accessible environment without any fear of missing our flight. Just right.

Airside I focused on shopping. There’s a couple of pretty basic Aldeasa (World Duty Free Group) stores but what really appeals is the strong local offer. Whoever conceived this commercial proposition obviously insisted on a real Sense of Place, Sicilian style.

I purchased wine, cheese and local liqueurs from Bottega dei Sapori (pictured) but there are also other attractive destination merchandise-packed outlets such as Sapori de Sicilia’s.

More traditional airport products are also to the fore, including high-end watches, fashion and accessories.

So often I bemoan the fact that airports lack any sense of local identity in their F&B and retail offer. No-one can say that about Catania Airport.

Even Vincenzo Bellini would probably reckon it hits the right notes.

[A young Ms Moodie Report viewer, Samira aged 9 at work]

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