Ballarò is one of the most ancient open-air markets in Palermo (about 1000 years old), and it’s used to sell fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and house items. Its structure reminds us an Arab “suk”, with the stalls and the small shops located next to each other and the goods displayed on tables along the street.
In this colorful market, old and new cultures coexist, and the traditional Sicilian goods of the market are being replaced by new shops of Asian and African goods. This is perfectly normal in a Ballarò that transformed its cultural and commercial aspect and which now represents the best example of a new multiethnic Palermo.
Located in the heart of the Albergheria, Ballarò takes its name from the small village of Bahlara (near to Monreale), where the Arabian merchants came from. From this place, no longer existing, this merchants used to buy the goods that were then sold at the market.
Before 16th Century, this area was crossed by a river called Kemonia, or bad weather River, because it often overflowed and flooded the surrounding area. To avoid this problem, the Sicilian government decided to divert the water into an underground channel and the oldriver bed became part of the city.
Walking through the market it’s impossible not to notice the crowded bunch of different colours, smells and noises. The stalls are designed to better display the goods and sellers “abbannìano” (declaim their merchandise) to attract customers.
In this particular place, in the middle of this Arab-like market, it’s possible to buy some of the typical Sicilian street food, somethingthat’s definitely worth trying.
Thanks to Terradamare for providing us their guides