Colors, flavors, scents. Sicilian Secrets brings you to Palermo to have a walk around the most famous open-air markets of the city. Vucciria, Ballarò and Capo: let’s discover them together!
Are you ready to learn more about Sicilian traditions? Palermo is the capital city of Sicily and it’s impossible to go there and miss all of its beauties: from the cathedral to the museums, from the beaches to the Royal Palace and the churches. But you cannot miss open-air markets as well. If you want to know more about local traditions, taste food and enjoy a nice walk: Vucciria, Ballarò and Capo must be in your bucket list.
Put on your most comfortable shoes and let’s go!
The first open-air market we visit is Vucciria. Do you know the origin of this name? It comes from the French word boucherie that means butcher shop. In the past it was used as a slaughterhouse but later even fish and vegetable have been sold too. Nowadays, in Sicilian dialect, Vucciria means chaos, hubbub: it’s a mix of voices, colors and flavors.
You can reach it from Piazza San Domenico and if you want to see how everything starts, get up early! The market opens at 4 a.m. and you can find fresh food such as seafood and vegetables, moreover you can talk to sellers that for sure, will encourage you to taste their products. Get the best bargain!
Do you want to see fishermen at work?
Go to Piazza Caracciolo, the perfect spot to take a picture during the cutting fish. You won’t be alone, I’m sure that a couple of cats will be there while waiting for a morsel.
Not only food, in open-air markets like this you can find also a bunch of souvenirs and…wine & spirits! Close your eyes and enjoy the true scent of Sicily! Here you can plunge into an authentic atmosphere, and in the evening go there with your friends and see how many young people crowd the market! Street food, music and nice spots to have a drink and have fun. Vucciria inspired also the famous artist Renato Guttuso, who, in 1974, painted a very common scene of the market. His work is exhibited at Palazzo Steri in Palermo.
Walking through the district called Albergheria, we arrive in the heart of this area and the next stop of our journey across the open-air markets of Palermo is Ballarò.
Probably you are wondering about the meaning of this name, well, the origin is uncertain! The most supported theory says that Ballarò comes from Bahlara, a small village next to Monreale crowded by many Arab merchants. Who knows! For sure, it’s commonly considered the oldest market of the city: it’s more than 1000 years old!
Its main characteristic is the structure that looks like an Arab suq.
Nowadays, Ballarò is more than a mix of colors, it is a mix of cultures. When you look around you can see Sicilian food but also many African and Asian shops, this is the multiethnic side of Palermo! Do you know that in the past the river Kemonia crossed this area but because of the problems it caused, the government decided to divert the water underground?
And do you know that Ballarò is the best open-air market for vintage clothes? Yes, it’s a food market, probably the one where you can taste the most delicious Sicilian street-food such as panelle, pani ca’ meusa (bread with spleen), etc., but you can find also a bunch of nice items to enrich your wardrobe!
Our last stop is the open-air market called Capo. It’s just behind the Teatro Massimo (via Volturno), another spot where you can enjoy typical delicatessen.
Don’t be surprised if walking around this district, names of the streets sound weird such as via delle Sedie Volanti (Flying chairs street) or via Scippateste (it’s impossible to translate it!). Dive into the colors of fruit and vegetables, meat and fish…you will love the choreographic stands! Moreover, in this area you can visit also some beautiful churches such as Chiesa dell’Immacolata Concezione (to learn more about Sicilian Baroque) and Chiesa di Sant’Agostino, and some hidden spots as well. Dolce & Gabbana chose this market for one of the latest campaigns…fashion rules!
Love and ‘breathe’ the fragrances and the atmospheres of Capo: wine, olives, bread, sun-dried tomatoes, cheese…and people! Talk to them and discover the real Sicily while listening to their stories and tasting traditional products.
Life is beautiful, and Sicilians know it…
Join us and discover Palermo with Sicilian Secrets and Dimensione Sicilia!