Spring in the Streets of Palermo
Children dressed for first communion, aromatic markets brimming over with local food, the visual abundance of modern and ancient Madonnas, the blanket of heat, dust and grit in the air and the backdrop noise of traffic and wild birds, not to mention being showered with fragrant pollen – these elements come together to present Spring in the streets of Palermo. I would not have missed this experience for the world!
Begin in the street markets. The three main street markets of Palermo are Vucciria, Ballaro and Capo. Ballaro is my favourite pick here with its sizzling fish on the hot plates and Sicilian pastries and fresh cherries. However, my personal recommendation goes to outdoor Saturday markets at Via Giotto near the Leonardo da Vinci bus station. (You can catch the bus or train to Notobartolo and then the tram). Wander at your leisure through tables and tables of second-hand clothes for 1-5 euros; buy fresh Sicilian olives from local vendors; cherry tomatoes – ripe and red like small candy apples. I bought a couple of kilo of ripe apricots for 1 euro 50 cents – they were rich in flavor and texture and juice. Fresh bread, biscotti, vegetables including squash a meter long and barrels and buckets of beans, potatoes and aubergene please the senses with bright colours and fresh smells. If you are staying in Palermo for any length of time and want to cook at home, these are the markets to visit.
Don’t miss the Tonno. A little van pulls up on Via Giotto with the days tuna catch and it is cut off a large fish as you watch and wrapped in paper and sold for between 5 and 7 euro a kg. The spectacle itself is worth 5 Euro!
I love the streets of Palermo in the Spring. By all means – go to the Opera, see the Cathedrals. Catch a bus up to Monreale, but do not miss the streets themselves. Take time to walk; stop in little cafes for espresso; go into book-shops and ask if they have an English section (you usually find a few books in English). Talk to people in your best few words of Italian. I felt welcomed and part of it all - a great feeling for any traveler.