Palermo Part II

For any self-confessed food enthusiast, Palermo’s quartet of bustling food markets stands as a veritable cornucopia of culinary delights. Each market, nestled within one of the city’s ancient four quarters, offers a unique and vibrant array of gastronomic treasures.

Just a stone’s throw away from our apartment lied the Mercato del Capo, nestled in the ancient Capo quarter. A ten-minute stroll led us to this bustling marketplace, where locals embark on their very social daily shopping routines. The narrow alleys teemed with stalls brimming with an assortment of fresh produce, regional cheeses, succulent seafood, and artisanal goods. Most of these vendors, have manned their stalls for generations, and are very generous with their samples.

Amidst the hustle and bustle, one can find many vendors selling prepared foods like delectable meatballs in tomato sauce, offering the perfect complement to freshly purchased pasta, basil, cheese, bread, and a bottle of wine all at the market or a delightful evening meal. For me, preparing our dinner using locally sourced ingredients steeped in regional flavours is one of the highlights of travelling.

Venturing fifteen minutes eastward you arrive at the Mercato di Ballarò, nestled in the heart of the Albergheria quarter. This market, a vibrant epicenter of activity for centuries, captivates visitors with vendors energetically hawking their wares to both locals and tourists alike. Additionally in the other quarters, the Mercatos di Vucciria, dating back to the 12th century, and Borgo Vecchio offer smaller markets where one can find not only food but also clothing, accessories, and souvenirs at affordable prices.

At the top of any sightseeing itinerary stands the awe-inspiring Palermo Cathedral and the grand Norman Palace, featuring its Palatine Chapel and the picturesque palace gardens, including the Giardino della Flora Tropicale in the Albergheria quarter.

The Palermo Cathedral, initiated in the 12th century, is characterized by its imposing facade using a fusion of architectural styles, showcasing Norman arches, Gothic rose windows, and Baroque embellishments, crowned by four imposing Moorish-influenced red domes that dominate Palermo’s skyline. 

The cathedral is home to a rich collection of religious relics and treasures, including the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus Christ during his crucifixion, the remains of Saint Rosalia the patron saint of Palermo and the tomb of King Roger II, the first Norman king.

The Norman Palace with the Palatine Chapel was commissioned by King Roger II in 1130. The chapel stand as a testament to the monarch’s vision of religious inclusivity, blending Muslim, Christian, and Jewish influences. Adorned with breathtaking golden mosaics depicting stories from each faith, the chapel’s interior captivates visitors with its intricate wooden ceilings composed of layers of cubes and floors containing intricate geometric designs in coloured marble. The beauty of the chapel is awe striking and one could spend hours and numerous visits revelling in its beauty and history. 

The Palace tropical gardens offer places to sit and enjoy. The Royal Garden at the back of the Palace is a garden of reflection. A place for breaks between doing the business of the country where the Royals could sit and reflect. The garden in front of the Palace is large and laid out in geometric squares with the pathways lined with palm trees and geometric plantings of flowering tropical plants. This is a place of serenity and enjoyment with five acres of plants releasing moisture into the air through transpiration that cools and refreshes while giving shade from the hot sun. 

With the Palermo Cathedral and the Norman Palace conveniently situated next to each other, visitors can easily explore these architectural marvels in a single day.

For more in-depth information of travelling to Palermo, complete with a full itinerary and food recipes go to budgetslowtravel.com/destinations/Palermo.

In: