There are several traditional markets in Palermo. We went to both Capo and Vucciria but if I had limited time and had to choose, I’d pick Capo. It was larger, more lively, more interesting and had a greater range of more appealing street food.
For those who care to look there’s a lot of interesting foodstuffs here. Herbs, spices, olives, live lobsters, small sharks and giant octopus. Best of all are the huge swordfish. Stallholders tie the swords with ropes, lashing them to a railing so that the heads are raised up and the blades are on full display.
We watched fishmongers expertly slice through the flesh of these giant fish with cleavers, then carry away the massive heads in both arms. We browsed the colourful mountains of local fruit and veg and tasted Sicilian street food (although I drew the line at the spleen sandwich).
What you see here is a real working street market, not the sort where you find endless, plastic tourist tat and copy sunglasses, copy handbags etc. Fruit stalls are made out of upended crates and people have worked here for generations. We noticed that we were never pestered or pressured to buy. You can just wander and look. However, if you are buying street food, I’d recommend checking the price before you order. We picked out several things from the cart and then sat to eat them but when the bill arrived, it was quite expensive. As we hadn’t checked prices when ordering, I suspect they may have been jacked up accordingly.
The thing I liked most was that in the middle of the market, behind awnings and fruit crates is an old Baroque church, Chiesa dell'Immacolata Concezione. It seemed so unexpected and incongruous to have a church in the midst of the market but of course it’s perfectly normal in Palermo and that’s part of the charm.
GETTING THERE: From Teatro Massimo, it took less than 5 min to walk there.