A Stroll through the Markets of Sicily

I’m just returned from Sicily, so you know what that means – there is soon to be a Sweet Sicily post on the blog here !  But before I get to the gelato, granita, cassata and marzipan, first a stroll through a few Sicilian markets, where I spent most of my time.  (When not eating gelato, granita, cassata and marzipan. Not to mention cannoli and torrone and chocolate and…)

Market in Siracusa, Sicily, ItalyMarket in Siracusa, Sicily, ItalyMarket in Siracusa, Sicily, ItalyMarket in Siracusa, Sicily, Italy

First up is my favorite of the two, in Siracusa’s old town, Ortigia (also a favorite of Nicky’s, as she recently shared).  The freshest of produce, neat stacks of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, vendors loudly announcing their wares (in a mix between yelling and singing that only Italian can do so well), and some of the friendliest Sicilians I came across.

Fish lovers will be in heaven, especially those with a kitchen to go back to for cooking.  Glistening rows of sardines, piles of calamari, tables covered in tuna and swordfish steaks, fishmongers scooping out the flesh of sea urchins for you to eat on the go…  With the fishing port just a hop from the market, this is as fresh as it gets.

Market in Siracusa, Sicily, ItalyMarket in Siracusa, Sicily, ItalySiracusa Market, Sicily, ItalySiracusa Market, Sicily, Italy

And for all you cheese lovers, you’ll also be grinning from ear to ear.  Here is a must for your Syracuse address book: Caseificio Borderi (Via de Benedictis 6), if not just for maestro casero (master cheesemaker) Andrea Borderi’s bubbly personality.  There’s an impressive display of cheeses outside, including hard cheeses from Ragusa that Andrea will have you taste with Noto almonds, funny looking pear-shaped provola, smoked mozzarella, warm rounds of ricotta, and an even more impressive cheese and salumi bar inside, run by his son Gaetano.  Such fun hanging “backstage” with Gaetano and chatting in French, but I suggest you touch up on your Italian to fully understand Andrea’s original take on ricotta, his famous tricotta (cooked three times), that he will gladly explain.

Market in Siracusa, Sicily, ItalyMarket in Siracusa, Sicily, ItalyMarket in Siracusa, Sicily, ItalySiracusa Market, Sicily, Italy

Other colorful, animated and even more boisterous markets are on the other side of the island in Palermo.  Lose yourselves in the streets of the Mercata di Ballarò and the Mercato del Capo, both in the city’s historical center.  You’ll come upon tables overflowing with salted capers, olives and anchovies, citrus and snails, market vendors wielding enormous cleavers to tuna and swordfish or daunting meat carcasses… alongside tables with household goods and random tchotchkes.  I was fascinated most of all with the long zucchini (below right), nearly as tall as I am.

Markets in Palermo, Sicily, ItalyMarkets in Palermo, Sicily, ItalyMarkets in Palermo, Sicily, ItalyMarkets in Palermo, Sicily, Italy

It’s no coincidence if you feel like you’re navigating your way through the labyrinthine souks of Fez, as Palermo has a rich Arab history.  Nonetheless, it retains a unique atmosphere with very Italian products and a personality all its own.

Markets in Palermo, Sicily, ItalyMarkets in Palermo, Sicily, ItalyMarkets in Palermo, Sicily, ItalyMarkets in Palermo, Sicily, Italy

On my next trip to Sicily, I’ll be starting with a visit to Catania’s fish market, which I didn’t have a chance to see.  What’s your favorite market in Sicily ?

17 Responses to “A Stroll through the Markets of Sicily”

  1. Rosa says:

    Beautiful! A great place to buy fruits, vegetables, fish and cheese.



  2. Emma says:

    Alas, I didn’t make it as far south as Sicily when in Italy. It looks like I’ll just have to go back!

    I love those long zucchini beasts – I thought for a quick second that they were alphorns;)

  3. Jack says:

    Nice post Kerrin – enjoyed the pictures and definitely want to visit Sicily in the future. Something else I got from your post – it amazes me how many recognizable products in your pictures are actually available here in Zürich – so cheers for the ZH markets too!

  4. Amanda says:

    Sicily is a place very dear to my heart! Didn’t make it to Palermo, so thanks for a little virtual trip!

  5. Kerrin says:

    Rosa, merci ! And yes, definitely.

    Emma, that was my first time in Sicily; I had always wanted to head that far south – and if you do too, I’m sure you won’t regret it. And I love your perspective – green edible alphorns, haha !

    Jack, grazie ! It’s true that we get such amazing fruits and vegetables from Italy, especially Sicily. Fun to know I’ve been to the source ! But that crazy long zucchini, that’s one I’ve yet to see in Zürich, you ?

    Amanda, prego ! What parts of Sicily have your heart ?

  6. mom says:

    Ok OK….I have my bags packed ready to go and taste all. The photos of the fresh veggies, fish and cheese make me hungry. I only wish that I could buy the tuna and grill it for dinner tonight! Taste the zucchini and sit and enjoy the sounds of the market. Thanks for taking us all to Sicily…..when can we go back?

  7. kelleyn says:

    You are making me even more excited about my visit in a few weeks. Thanks for the stroll through the market.

  8. valentina says:

    Love this post! You have a way of describing that makes me hear background noise – shouts of fresh produce and the greeting of customors, luring them to their stand. I’ve never been to Sicily s might have to give you an answer in the future.

  9. Amanda says:

    Loved Siracusa, Catania and Piazza Armerina. We also stayed near a lovely hilltop town called Pollina, east of Cefalu. We want to go back to see Ragusa, Palermo, Taormina and the Aeolian islands! Plus, I can’t forget the archeological sights we have yet to see: Selinunte and Segesta. Quite the list, I know!

  10. Kerrin says:

    mom, I bet you do have a bag packed and ready to go ! You do love Italy and these markets and all. When you do go back… soon, working on a sweet post up next ! 🙂

    kelleyn, oooh you’re heading to Sicily ? Where to ? Any part of the island sounds fabulous to me, and I bet there are amazing markets like these here too. Enjoy !

    valentina, I am so glad I can share the colors – and sounds – of the market with you ! Definitely something to experience one day. To add to that forever growing travel wish list, right ? =)

    Amanda, and thank YOU for a few tips for MY next trip to Sicily too ! We loved Siracusa and Ragusa and the area around Noto the best. Need to go back to explore Catania and Taormina and oh so much more !

  11. jen laceda says:

    Oh, the produce look soooooo beautiful! I just love the spring / summer bounty! It brings out the best in the markets! Sicily is definitely on my list of to-go places, Kerrin! Thanks for sharing! I want to see MORE!

  12. Meeta says:

    Love this! I really enjoy looking into markets in other parts of the worlds. Also Sicily is a place that i need to get to and on my list of places to visit. I can imagine the wide abundance of produce and amazing food there.

  13. Vanessa (Bestsmellers) says:

    You’ve just described my favourite market in Sicily (Ortigia)! It seems to be smaller than the ones in Palermo and Catania, but to me it’s just perfect….

    Liebe Grüsse,


  14. jkiel says:

    ah, open markets are SOOO wonderful! Thanks for the “tour”!

  15. Kerrin says:

    jen, you know it’s always my pleasure to share the markets – and sweets – wherever I visit ! 🙂 And yes yes, *more* to come, especially of those sweets…

    Meeta, me too ! Local markets are always on my list when traveling, total window into the cuisine, culture and people.

    Vanessa, the market in Ortigia is definitely much smaller than the others, but totally my favorite too !

    jkiel, you’re very welcome, Judy !

  16. kelly says:

    I loved the market in Ortigia. Andrea is terrific! We all bought vacuum packed tricotta from him to bring home and I just enjoyed it grated over tomato slices for dinner tonight. He was so friendly; he gave me salami to bring back to the room for my dad.

  17. Fintan says:

    Visiting Sicily next week. I love the open air food markets. Love the stalls and the comings and goings of the people selling their wares and the reactions and interactions with customers. I will definitely visit Ortigia as well as the markets in Palermo and Marsala.

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