Palermo’s historical ties with the Arab world and its proximity to North Africa reverberate in the noisy street life of the city’s ancient centre, and nowhere is this stronger than in its markets.
Each of the city’s four historic quarters claims its own street market, but the Vucciria, Ballarò and Capo are the ‘Big Three’ in terms of popularity and history. Here markets are much similar to a North African bazaar as to a mainland Italian market.
The Mercato della Vucciria is the most dishevelled of the three, with rough-edged customers, a small number of stalls selling produce and old junk, and often-grumpy stallholders. Infinitely more vibranti s the Mercato di Ballarò, filled with stalls peddling households goods, clothes and foodstuff of every possible description – this is where many Palermitans do their daily shop. The Mercato del Capo which extends through the tangle of lanes and alleyways of the Albergheria and Capo quarters respectively, is the most atmospheric of all.. Long and orderly lines of stalls display pungent cheeses, tubs of plump olives and a huge array of luscious fruits and voluptuous vegetables.
Palermo Markets are extraordinarily beautiful and surprisingly diverse, hugging the sparkling colours and smells. You won’t find a better blend of culture, traditions and authentic local lifestyle. Here fruit vendors raucously hawking their wares id Sicilian dialect, the irresistible perfume of lemon and oranges and the crakle of “Panelle” – chickpea fritters – emerging from the deep-fryer.
A day at the markets is a full urban adventure – a feast of senses!