If you go to Sicily and don’t spend at least some time in one of the local markets or bazaars, it’s as if you weren’t in Sicily at all. A visit to the bazaar is an absolute must-go, and every lover of Italy should experience the atmosphere there on their own skin at least once in their life. You can’t understand it, you just have to experience it!
Everything that happens in this magical place resembles one great theatrical performance, the heroes of which are charismatic sellers who give out loud shouts aimed at advertising the product they are trading in a very direct way. Aggressive PREGO, PREGO !!! coming from literally all sides, it will echo in your head long after you leave the market.
The mixture of all these scents, colors and screams creates an amazing atmosphere for which some people will completely lose their heads, while others, overwhelmed by the chaos prevailing there, will want to run as far as possible. I belong to the first group of course!
In today’s post, I am taking you to the best markets in Sicily!
I have my two favorite fairs in Sicily and the Palermitan Ballaro is one of them. This place has so much beautiful energy! The entrance to the bazaar is just behind Palermo Centrale main station and stretches virtually the entire area of the Albergheria district.
Ballaro is the oldest market in Palermo – over 1000 years old, and its origins date back to the time of Arab domination!
In this bazaar you can buy everything you dream about, and even more, because you probably had no idea about the existence of some things. You will find here freshly caught fish, meat, seafood, spices, local cheeses and cold cuts, seasonal fruits and vegetables, fresh ricotta prepared right in front of your eyes, freshly squeezed juices of Sicilian oranges and pomegranates and street-food which is the tastiest showcase of Palermo! Here you can taste a Palermitan pizza sfincione with tomato sauce, caciocavallo cheese and anchovies, or le stigghiole, i.e. grilled lamb intestines seasoned with parsley.
Shopping in this unusual scenery full of contrasts, where not very charming, partially demolished buildings stand next to historic churches, and men on scooters cram into the narrowest streets of the market at the same time with a loud trumpet will remain in your memory for a long time 🙂
Street art lovers will be especially delighted, because there are many interesting murals around Ballaro!
The market is located between Via Roma and Corso Vittorio Emanuele, not far from the port of La Cala. Vucciria in the Sicilian dialect means “confusione”, which means “confusion” and this word perfectly reflects the atmosphere of this place, especially in the evening! Compared to Ballaro or Capo, there is not much going on in Vucciria during the day. In October 2020, we lived right next to it and when we went out to sightseeing the city in the morning, we saw only a few traders on display, when at the same time (despite the pandemic) on Ballaro it would not have been possible to count all the stands – such a number!
Vucciria begins to bustle with life only after sunset, mainly due to the charismatic Taverna Azzurra, which becomes a meeting place for locals of all ages. You will see a lot of happy people absorbed in conversation, who, amidst the bustle and music, like to drink some good drink with interest at an attractive price and generally follow the “carpe diem” principle in their lives! If you want to feel the authentic Sicilian atmosphere, you have to come here.
There is another reason why you should visit Vucciria after dark – Sicilian street-food. If you are wondering what the Palermitan hits of street food taste like, such as pane con la milza, i.e. a roll with spleen and lungs with a small amount of squeezed lemon, or in the “improved” version with sliced caciocavallo cheese or ricotta, be sure to check out Vucciria !!
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Thanks to them, you will learn the addresses of unique bars and restaurants, inaccessible to ordinary tourists, where mainly locals go, and you will save money spent on disappointing food, recommended by random people on Internet who spent little time in Sicily and did not manage to get to know it from the inside out. Click on the banner below for more details!
Mercato del Capo
In the district of Monte di Pietà, near the Teatro Massimo, there is another huge market – mercato del Capo. It is considered to be one of the most authentic markets in Palermo, distinguished by its extremely rich offer of fresh fish. I admit that I didn’t spend too much time on it and we got there a bit by accident, but the place seems to have a lot of potential!
Fans of vintage flea markets and accessories should be at Piazza Marina as early as possible on Sunday morning to hunt down the best loot – and trust me, there is something to fight for! Colorful ceramics with Sicilian motifs, old books, original mirrors and lamps, and many other gems that you will not find anywhere else!
Pescheria is located right behind the fountain – Fontana dell’Amenano in Piazza Duomo, which is the main square in the center of Catania. It is the most popular fish and seafood market in the city and one of the most emblematic places in all of Sicily. In this small space, the intense, unpleasant smells of the sea blend in a fascinating way with Arab market customs and Sicilian traditions.
It’s hard to find such a spectacle with traders in the lead role anywhere else! Although it is squid, giant tuna and photogenic fish-swords that play the first fiddle in this place, you will also find stands with fruit, vegetables and meat accompanied by “Instagramable” decorations, which will surely guarantee you beautiful photos from the trip :))
The traders will greet you with a sincere smile and, loudly praising the advantages of their products, invite you to taste them. The only day when this place changes beyond recognition and there is a surprising silence there is on Sunday, when the market is closed.
Fera ‘o Luni or Mercato di piazza Carlo Alberto
My favorite Sicilian market, but I may not be objective in this matter, because I have a special sentiment with this place – it was the market that I visited most often while living in Catania. The main reason was the extremely attractive, shockingly low prices of vegetables, fruit, meat and fish, and the opportunity to immerse yourself in the real Sicilian everyday life, because mainly locals shop there.
Catanian Fera ‘o Luni is such an open-air shopping center – in addition to the Sicilian splendor, you will find there great Italian clothes – used and not, and generally everything you can think of – cleaning products, panties, bras and many others. You will read more about the fair in Catania in my Culinary Guide to Eastern Sicily :))
Il mercato di Ortigia
A small, but very atmospheric market in Ortygia, where your visit will surely stimulate all your senses. There is also one very appetizing reason why you must visit this place… but you can read about it in my eBook!
Which Sicilian market did you like the most? Let me know in the comments!
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