The name Cittàgazze comes from the Italian città (city) and gazze (magpies). Thus, it can be loosely translated as the city of magpies. It is mentioned that this is because the Guild of the Torre degli Angeli used the Subtle Knife to steal things that were expensive from other worlds, in the way a magpie steals shiny objects.
Cittàgazze was a seaside town, reminiscent of those near the Mediterranean. Hills surrounded the city which had wide, cobbled roads and was filled with ancient architecture. It was full of hotels and smaller somewhat shabby cafes, one of which was on a promenade full of palm trees.
When Lord Asriel created the bridge between Lyra's world and the world of Cittàgazze, a storm hit Cittàgazze and the population fled to the nearby hills. The enormous rip in the sky caused the creation of a large number of Spectres, so the adults were unable to return to the city. The guild in the city had created the subtle knife, and before that point the city had been rich and thriving, filled with merchants.
Cittàgazze had an unusually young demographic. Since the adults were forced to leave because of the Spectres, the city was populated by gangs of children.