IMG_3028In any other city,  lunching at ‘Carlo il Salumiere’ would have been a pleasant experience.  Here, there was an added frisson and air of discovery.

Our visit began in the main sunny thoroughfare of  Ballaro’, one of the city’s biggest, oldest, noisiest and most colourful food markets, and continued into the tangle of narrow, shaded laneways that surround it. ‘Carlo il Salumiere’ is tucked away in one of these, in an elegant and stylishly restored 17th century palace.  At the end of the laneway, we discovered as we left, there is another palace; but this one, while still hauntingly beautiful, is derelict and abandoned.  The city is full of  these contradictions: breathtaking possibilities linger even in the darkest streets; then,  just around the corner,  there is neglect and abandonment, a seeming failure of will.

And always, there are questions.  They seem never to leave you alone.

In the Ballaro’ market where he’s been operating for years, selling the finest cheeses and salume –  hams, mortadellas, finocchione, salami – Carlo is known as ‘Carlo il salumiere’.  Last year, he opened a little restaurant in a side street off the market.  It proved to be so successful that a few months later he moved into premises on the ground floor of Palazzo Prestipino, in via San Nicolo’ all’Albergheria.

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