Every Sunday morning, stalls with goods of every description are set up in the streets that surround the Giardino Garibaldi at the centre of Piazza Marina. Almost certainly you’ll find more trash than treasure, but the market at Piazza Marina is a Palermo institution – and definitely worth at least one visit. In the summer months, the stalls extend into the surrounding streets, the wares become more interesting and varied, the crowds thicker on the pavements, and Dominco’s gelato van parked nearby cranks out loud, up-beat popular music. It is a truly carnival atmosphere.

You’ll find just about everything here, from furniture, light switches and camera tripods to books, old silver and oil paintings. Much like any flea market anywhere – but as with other flea markets, it’s the differences that make it interesting: those things that appear here over and over because they are part of the way of life, part of the city’s past. Here you’ll find stalls with old patterned ceramic tiles of typical design, piles of chandelier pieces, typical Sicilian cast iron bed bases,  silver knives of particular design, and stalls selling etchings and prints and a wide array of books about the city and the island.  These are the stalls that I keep coming back to.                                                                

Read the rest of this entry »

This week I visited Salina, one of the Aeolian Islands off Sicily’s north-east coast, and came upon Da Alfredo, a tiny waterfront bar, famous, I’ve since discovered, for its granita.  I had never heard of Da Alfredo, but one taste of its granita and I knew it was something special. 

The bar’s location is perfect: it is in a tiny piazza on the waterfront in Lingua, a peaceful and attractive little village on the south-eastern tip of Salina, looking out over the water to the islands of Lipari, Panarea and Stromboli.    

The more I learned about Da Alfredo and its granita, the more impressed I became.  Perhaps not surprisingly!  I always derive pleasure from seeing traditional products being made with great care and skill, and family traditions developing as sons or daughters pick up the skills of their parents with energy and enthusiasm and take them to a new level.  Both these things are part of the story of Da Alfredo.

Read the rest of this entry »