there are three outdoor markets in palermo - la vucciria, capo and ballaro. ballaro is the longest running - for 1000 years! but it is la vucciria that is the most well known. located just off the piazza san domenico, the market has been in existence for 700 years. in the evenings after the vendors have left, the streets fill with young people for a vibrant nightlife spot. there’s a sicilian expression: “quannu s'asciucanu i balati dà vucciria,” which means, ‘when the streets of the vucciria run dry’, meaning, not in this lifetime.
this is my favorite painting. it is sicilian artist renato guttuso’s famous representation of this lively market, entitled “la vucciria”. the following is from italy magazine explaining this beautiful piece of art:
the vucciria market was one of guttuso’s first discoveries when the bagheria-born painter moved to palermo as a student in the early 1930s.
his huge (300 x 300 cm) painting of the market however was not done until 1974, when he was living in varese, lombardy. in order to paint the food from life, it seems guttuso had some ingredients shipped to him by air from palermo and that he asked a local butcher to loan him a side of beef to be able to draw it and include it in the painting.
with raw and bloody realism, he expressed in the painting one of the many spirits of the sicilian capital. the bustle of daily contrasts with dark elements, such as the quartered half-ox hanging from a hook. the liveliness of the market is rendered by the explosion of different colors: the reds of the meat and tomatoes, the greens of the vegetables, the yellows of the cheese and lemons, the pink of the swordfish and cold cuts, the silver of the fish.