There is a special atmosphere in the ancient Sicilian markets:  you see people talking and negotiating as immersed in a world that looks like a theatre.

In many places of the Island there are still the typical suks (Arab Markets) which highlight the Arab roots of Sicilian culture. You can recognize them by the way of arranging fruits, especially oranges, and dry fruits, but also the wide variety of exotic species and spices – coming from the near or far East – and olives, with their incredible variety.

Palermo, traditional market: Il Capo – ph Valerio Casari

All around the air smells of garlic, oregano and chili flavours. How beautiful are the fish stalls ,of the “Pescheria”, the famous fish market of Catania, or the ones of  Marsala and Siracusa.

Big swordfishes, stone basses, sea bream, mussels and clams, octopus and other crustaceans display on the market’s stands. Blue-fish abounds among sardines , mackerels, long silver paddle-fishes and caponi. And shrimps of all kind from the big red ones of Mazara del Vallo to the smaller ones, often already cleaned and peeled. Let’s discover the timeless charm of Via Consultore Benintende in the historical centre of Caltanissetta ; colourful and scented, this street hosts the historic Market Strat’â Foglia since the end of the eighteenth century.

Mercato il "Capo" - Ph Valerio Casari

Traditional market: Il “Capo” – Ph Valerio Casari

From Piazza Mercato Grazia to Via Berengario Gaetani, the whole Via Consultore Benintende is a parade of vendor’s stands full of  fruits and vegetables, cheese, legumes and various objects. Bakeries, butchers, fishmongers, and even exotic food shops, enrich the market. The characteristic open-air markets where you can eat a bit ‘of everything, such as the typical Street Food,  are widespread – today more than ever – throughout Palermo, especially in neighborhoods on the edge of the great historical markets: Vucciria, CapoBallarò (perhaps the most multi-ethnic corner of the city) and Borgo Vecchio.

Palermo: Ballarò – ph. Marta Mannarano

You can reach them by following the strong smell of fried food: laying on large trays, the typical “panelle” are proudly displayed on the stand. They are usually served inside large loaves with sesame, often accompained by the so-called fried cazzilli (fried croquettes of potato).

The fried eggplants or the cicireddu, small fish floured and fried,  are no less tasty. At the entrance of some frying shop, you could find the writing  pani cà meusa (bread with spleen). It means that here the tradition is fully respected. It is a tasty food recommended  for strong palates. Boiled into lard, beef entrails, spleen and lung are served with bread and seasoned with lemon or in some cases with ricotta cheese or grated cheese.

Pani cà meusa – ph. I. Mannarano

In Palermo, a very popular street food is stigghiole, that is grilled skewers of lamb or veal. The dense smoke and the smell of the barbecue will definitely help you find them.

Stigghiola – Ph. Salvatore Lentini

Izi Travel guide