The market, at the heart of the city
The market, beating heart of the city, not by accident located at its centre, is a privileged place of encounter between demand and supply. It can be seen historically as an “omphalos” around which the social organisation of community is structured and materialises, the inherent principle of reciprocity is confirmed and the cyclical nature of human experience finds assurance through the alternating presence there of products offered as objects requested, contested or demanded.

It is no accident that markets function effectively as synthetic and synesthetic examples of actual life, where events unfold like a performance in a realist drama, representing people, ritual practices, forms of recreation and social articulations of extraordinary effectiveness.

In markets, particularly those of Sicily, the level of expression become fully sublime through traditional forms of display and advertising presented by the skilled vendors and hawkers through the “paratura ra putia” (preparation of the store). Market people show practical “set design” and “aesthetic” skills in setting up the structures, often pyramids, used to display their merchandise, as well as “rhetorical” and “singing” abilities to sell their goods, mostly food, whose qualities they highlight through complex metonymic, metaphorical and allusive forms.

The composite soul of Palermo is effectively represented in its four main markets: Ballarò, Capo and Vucciria (within the walls) and Buorgu viecchiu (outside the city walls).

Ballarò, the largest of Palermo’s markets, is located in the Albergheria district between Corso Tukory, Via Maqueda and Corso Vittorio Emanuele, with its main concentration in Piazza Carmine and Piazza Ballarò. In view of the substantial economic changes that have affected the city, for the local inhabitants, Ballarò market still retains its functional importance as a place of commerce, a space of identities and an area for food products.
Porta Carini is both the physical and symbolic entrance to Capo market, which extends from behind the Tribunale di Palermo between Via Porta Carini, Piazza Capo, Via Cappuccinelle and Via Beati Paoli. The market, specifically for fruit and vegetables, extends on the south side along Via Sant’Agostino, where it specialises in the sale of textiles.
Vucciria market extends between Piazza San Domenico and Corso Vittorio Emanuele. The heart of the market is Piazza Caracciolo, site of the city’s largest slaughterhouse during the Angevin period, which characterised the site as a commercial space for the sale of meat. No trace of this can now be seen, as the market has been reorganised as a space for the sale of vegetables and fruit.
Buorgu viecchiu
Buorgu viecchiu market is located outside the ancient walls of the city of Palermo, in the fishing village of Saint Lucia, between Piazza Don Sturzo, behind the Politeama theatre, and the port area of ​​Palermo. Its proximity to the port favoured the development of this market as a place for the storage of merchandise.
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