Scenario Siciliano: Peerless Palermo—Part Two

A few weeks ago, I started chronicling my press trip to Sicily, the almost mystical island off the toe of Italy. We started the week on the East side of the island, navigating around  Mount Etna, the active volcano that influences every aspect of life.

On Day Two of the trip, we headed to Caverna Etnea, the Firriato estate that is just a few kilometers from the volcano.

Day 3, we visited Pietradolce, and Day 4 took us to Baglio di Pianetto, the closest winery to Palermo, the capital of Sicily. We then headed to Palermo, where I would stay for a few extra days.

My second day in Palermo, began much like my first had—I wandered about the city without any real plan or purpose. Like most European cities that I have visited, Palermo is a walkable town, not a sprawling megagopolis that we find here in the U.S.

There is also plenty of evidence of life in the town, that its residents are engaged daily in the life of the city. Although I had no particular plan, I was hoping to come across one of the many markets that have been a huge part of Palermo’s past.

I first made my way up to the Piazza San Domenico for the Vucciria market, which most websites cite as the best and most famous of the Palermo markets.

Not so much.

According to the locals, the market is far from what it used to be and now it is but a few people selling cheap goods that were no doubt made in China.

Although the market was a wash, the church of San Domenico was a gem.

Not deterred, I headed across town a bit to the Mercato di Capo, which is located in the streets behind the Teatro Massimo.

The Teatro Massimo.

There, after a bit of searching (and stalking a few of the locals whose large but empty bags seemed to indicate that they were heading for the market), I came across the main street for the market which was flooded with edible color: fruit, vegetables, and seafood.

The main drag of the Mercato di Capo (I have no idea who the stately gentleman is in the foreground, but I imagine he is a count).

Oodles of cactus fruit (prickly pear) to be found throughout the market.

Holy mackerel (at least I think it is mackerel).

The vegetables were so vibrant, they almost appeared fake.

After some time at the market, I headed over past the Cathedral to the Palazzo dei Normanni, which originally was the home of the kings of Sicily, then the Sicilian Parliament, and today houses the Sicilian Regional Assembly. It is the oldest royal residence in Europe, with its origins dating to the 9th Century.

The Palazzo dei Normanni.

The Porta Nuova, part of the Palazzo dei Normanni.

Among the many sculptures that adorn the Porta Nuova, there is clear evidence of the Moorish roots of the structure.

More Moors (sorry, had to).

The area just beyond the Palazzo dei Normanni is a vibrant area of the city, replete with floral shops and locals playing cards in the mid-morning sun.

I stopped to watch the card game for a bit, and while I can’t be sure, I think they asked if I wanted to join in. I demurred—the stakes appeared to be rather high.

I took another route back to my flat, passing Castelnuovo square…

…and Teatro Politeama Garibaldi.

Sadly, my time in Palermo and Sicily came to an end, so I celebrated with a little prosecco on my balcony…

Yes, I know that Prosecco is not Sicilian, but it was the only Italian sparkling available form the local Carrefour. Maybe they could use that use that free half-hour on Sunday to find some local bubbles to stock.

I made up for it, I think, with a fabulous Grillo with my last dinner in Sicily. Ciao Palermo!


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Grillo, Prosecco, Sicily, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Scenario Siciliano: Peerless Palermo—Part Two

  1. Hey 😀 Beautiful town! Glad to know that a lot of people know the prickly pear nowadyas 😉 I am using the prickly pear cactus to purify water for a school project! If you want to know more about the project, here is the link:

    If you like it, please leave a like on the video. The project is competing in a contests and we need a lot of likes to get to the next phase. Thanks! 😀


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