June 24th, 1958. The construction of one of the most beautiful places in Gela is completed: “La Conchiglia”. The wonderful building with its shell-shaped dome, stretched out to sea. Walking across a bridge about 30 meters long from the shore, you reached the main entrance, where you found, on the two sides, two rows of cabins used by bathers coming to the beach.

The circular ballroom, inside the building, was full of tables for people who wanted to enjoy lunch in that wonderful place. The huge windows allowed natural light to make its way into the room. You could enjoy the wonderful view of the sea, the beach or the city, but also the live concerts that were held there by well-known artists of the time.

Conchiglia provided Gela with a lot of national and foreign tourists every year. Many people from Northern countries preferred to come here in autumn, when the climate was pleasant so they could take a walk by the sea.

After only 5 years after its opening, La Conchiglia began to lose its fame. The oil tankers started cleaning the cisterns with sea water, thus causing a great pollution along the coast of the city. Lots of residents so decided to move to Manfria and Macchitella areas, and tourists no longer wanted  to visit that place for that very reason.

For a while, La Conchiglia continued to be used as a convention hall and restaurant, but the decline of the place was extremely evident. The bridge that connected the beach to the building collapsed and the roof began to slowly fall down. Due to frequent brawls during card games, the owners decided to put the lock on the doors of the building. In a short time, La Conchiglia was abandoned.

The demolition of the structure was proposed in 1995 but the Soprintendenza of Caltanissetta did not agree. The area around the building was recovered by one of the owners’ sons, who created a parking lot and a lawn with showers, restaurants and other facilities.

Unfortunately, today, the beauty of La Conchiglia can only be seen in the old pictures or recalled through the memories still kept alive by the elders of Gela.

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Denisa Nagy


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