My personal highlight: Eating warm ricotta cheese liquid and fresh coming directly from the pot – a foodie’s once in a lifetime experience
Planning a trip with a friend bringing you to his hometown means: be ready for plenty surprises. It’s the best way to discover a place. Who loves the feeling of getting lost and feel welcomed from locals. Read more about what happened to me during the trip in Sicily this may.
My friend asked me what I would love to do and see in Palermo. My reply was simple: it has to do with food! That is why the city welcomed me with a traditional brioche gelato! Have you ever tried a soft sweet bread filled up to the top with artisan ice cream? Well, than that is the first thing to do in Palermo! Ice Cream Sandwich! Get the best one at Brioscià. What you get here is absolutely outstanding. Don’t forget to ask for a special topping! That is what makes this brioche gelato unique.
Streetfood & morning stroll at the food market ballarò
Welcome to Palermo! Here the duty is to go for snaking through the city blocks southeast of Palazzo dei Normanni. I guess it’s Palermo’s busiest street market. The mix of noises, smells and street life is fascinating. It’s the cheapest place for fresh prepared food, souvenirs, Chinese padded bras. Get regional and national food products as olives, salami or cheese. The absolute must try and healthy snack is a long pumpkin with lemon juice on top.
Palermo: A splendor of an Arab-Norman-Byzantine Culture
Strolling through the city makes you understand how many different cultures have influenced the city. 2 1/2 centuries of Arab rule (from 827 BC at the end of the Eleventh century) gave to the city of Palermo magnificent palaces, mosques, minarets and gardens. After the Normans took possession of this splendor. Today, the heritages of these two cultures are intertwined and indistinguishable. Creating the so-called Arab-Norman style. The influence is reflected also in the food. This makes all my discoveries vey precious!
Palermo has a unique flair, there is no lovelier experience than sitting on a square in front of one of the beautiful churches, be surrounded by live musicians making you forget time.
Where to have artisan & local made Sicilian dishes
Osteria Mangia & Bevi – La cucina che parla siciliano (The kitchen that talks in Sicilian)
Get a diversity of typical dishes as the Pasta fritta (fried pasta served in a pan) or the Bucatini con sarde alla Palermitana, this is dedicated to sardine lover!
If you like to stay with a starters plate choose out of their veggie, fish or meat appetizers and order different plates to share!
Antica Focacceria San Francesco – Panino con la milza (Sandwich with veal spleen)
The street food of Antica Focacceria San Francesco is suitable for any time of the day: Here is where you need to try the Palermitan Speciality made following a tradition from 1834 called Focaccia Maritata (married focaccia) It’s a soft bread filled with veal spleen, fresh ricotta and caciocavallo cheese. The spleen is prepared in a big pot, slow cooked for hours until it gets super tender. It was my first spleen ever eaten in my life! Absolutely recommend this dish! If you love to go for a classical snack, take the Arancina with ragù (fried, rice stuffed with meat ragout and peas).
Travel suggestions – how we did it
Fly from Zurich to Palermo or take to train to Milan, enjoy a half day in the city and fly to Palermo from there. You will spend max 150 Euro depending on the time of booking. I always love to use skyscanner to check my flights in advance by the way! For the accommodation I recommend to use airbnb, there are really lovely apartments
More discoveries in Sicily: the village of Castelbuono
When traveling big cities there is always the desire to see small authentic villages. Having the privilege that my best friend Annasole is from Castelbuono gave me perfect excuse discover this spot on my Sicily journey, too.
Castelbuono is a 10’000 hab medieval village in the Park of Madonie. It’s about 90 km from Palermo and very close to the Thyrrhenian City of Cefalù. The old town is still well preserved and captivates you from the very first moment. The town develops around the castle of Ventimiglia, near a Byzantine hamlet called Ypsigro. The village is a paradise for foodies. Beside excellent Michelin Star restaurants as Nangalarruni or Palazzaccio you can find the well-known pastry producer Fiasconaro. They’re famous for excellent nougat, creams and panettone filled with delicious creams made of the mana ash-tree or pistachio.
Visiting Castelbuono with a local friend made my wish come true. I got introduced to the production of ricotta cheese. Standing in the small cheese dairy San Nicola with the father and son of the company was my personal highlight. Yes, the smell is intense, but the taste of this still hot and liquid creamy cheese reaching my mouth, indispensable.
An other adventure on the private food tour was the visit of the biscuit manufacture Tumminiello.
Italian have a typical way to make breakfast, a coffee and some biscotti! This is how I grew up.
Tumminiello uses all local ingredients, less sugar and aromatize mostly of their biscuits with Sicilian products oranges or lemons. Find all of their selection here.
A funny fact about Castelbuono you should know
The village is the only one in the world that uses a very unique way to clean-up their waste. It’s a Zero Waste project by the help of donkeys! They have managed to develop an innovative system to marry sustainability, social work and economics. A traditional donkey-breed from Sicily called Ragusa collects waste in narrow streets!A funny fact about Castelbuono
In the mood for a cost trip – Choose Cefalù
Cefalù is notable for beautiful sunsets and unpretentious charming restaurants located in beautiful alleys. One of Cefalù’s magnets for tourists is the duomo. An imposing two-towered Norman cathedral. This building mighty dominates the historical centre. The piazza with restaurants and coffee’s invites to have a stop and enjoy the vibes of the city. Find plenty artisan shops, too around the village to buy your favorite souvenir.
In the mood to read about my travels and get inspired? Find more stories here!