May 2023 archive

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

The 3rd stop of my Sicily trip was Palermo, the capital city of Sicily. As soon as I arrived, I was immediately captivated by the colourful streets, the bustling markets, and the rich history of the city. 

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

Palermo is a vibrant and historic city with plenty to offer visitors. With a rich history, beautiful architecture, delicious cuisine, and stunning coastline, Palermo is a perfect destination for a week-long trip. In this blog post, I will provide my best travel tips for spending one week in Palermo, including some of the city’s highlights and must-visit places.

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

On my first day in Palermo I was lucky enough to meet Chiara. She was excited to show me the beautiful places in Palermo and around Palermo.

We started by strolling through the historic city center, taking in the stunning architecture and vibrant atmosphere. We visited the Quattro Canti, also known as the Four Corners, which is the city’s central square and the meeting point of the four historic districts of Palermo. 

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

From here, we took a walk to the nearby Cathedral of Palermo, a stunning example of Sicilian Baroque architecture.

We spend some days together exploring the city and taking pictures in front of its many landmarks, such as the Cathedral of Palermo, the Palazzo dei Normanni, and the Teatro Massimo.

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

Top Tip: Take a photography walking tour with Chiara to discover hidden gems and local hotspots. This way, you’ll see more of the city and take better photographs.

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One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

Palermo travel guide 

Getting to Palermo

The easiest way to get to Palermo is by flying into the Falcone-Borsellino Airport. It is located around 35 kilometers west of the city. From there, you can take a taxi or the train to get to the city center. Alternatively, you can take a ferry from Naples or other Italian cities, which arrive at the Port of Palermo.

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One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

Getting around Palermo

Palermo is a city that’s best explored on foot, but it also has an efficient public transportation system that includes buses, trams, and trains. Taxis are also readily available, but they can be more expensive than other forms of transportation.

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

What to see and do in Palermo

Visit the Palermo Cathedral: This stunning cathedral is located in the heart of the historic center and features a mix of architectural styles, including Norman, Gothic, and Baroque.

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One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat
One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat
 

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

Explore the Palazzo dei Normanni: This impressive palace was once home to Sicilian royalty and features stunning mosaics and artwork.

Take a stroll through the Quattro Canti: This famous intersection features four stunning Baroque buildings, each representing one of the four seasons.

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

Visit the Capuchin Catacombs: These eerie catacombs are home to thousands of mummified bodies, making for a unique and somewhat haunting experience.

Take a street food tour: Palermo is known for its delicious street food, and a guided tour is a great way to sample a variety of local specialties.

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat
One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat
 

Visit the markets: Palermo has several vibrant markets, including the Ballarò, Capo, and Vucciria markets, where you can find everything from fresh produce to handicrafts.

Relax at Mondello Beach: This beautiful beach is located just a short drive from the city center and is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing.

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

Where and what to eat in Palermo

Palermo is known for its delicious cuisine, and there are plenty of options for dining out. Some of the must-try dishes include arancini, panelle, pasta alla Norma, and cannoli.

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

Best restaurants in Palermo

Basile antica focacceria del Massimo / Cafe del Kassaro / Bisso bistro

Where to find the best ice cream in Palermo: go to Il Signor Carbognano.

Where to find the best best cannoli in Palermo: go to I segreti del chiostro (amazing place)

For the best pizza go to Anica, Quid Gusto siciliano, Cagliostro

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat
One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat
 
Reasons to visit Palermo

Rich history: Palermo has a rich and fascinating history, with many ancient ruins, historic churches, and palaces that are worth exploring. The city’s diverse cultural influences – including Greek, Roman, Arab, and Norman – have all left their mark on the city’s architecture and culture.

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One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

Stunning architecture: Palermo is home to some of the most beautiful buildings in Italy, including the Palermo Cathedral, the Quattro Canti, and the Palazzo dei Normanni. These stunning buildings showcase a mix of architectural styles, including Norman, Gothic, and Baroque.

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One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

Delicious cuisine: Sicilian cuisine is renowned for its bold flavors and unique ingredients, and Palermo is the perfect place to sample it. From street food to fine dining, there are plenty of options for foodies to indulge in local specialties like arancini, cannoli, and panelle.

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat
One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat
 

Vibrant markets: Palermo is known for its vibrant markets, including the Ballarò, Capo, and Vucciria markets, where you can find everything from fresh produce to handicrafts. These markets are a great place to soak up the local atmosphere and try some of the city’s famous street food.

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

Beautiful beaches: Palermo is home to several beautiful beaches, including Mondello, which is just a short drive from the city center. These beaches offer a great place to relax, swim, and soak up the sun.

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat
One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat
 

Cultural events: Palermo hosts a range of cultural events throughout the year, including music festivals, art exhibitions, and theater performances. These events are a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and experience the city’s vibrant arts scene.

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat
One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat
 
Day trips from Palermo 

Mondello Beach

Chiara brought me by car to Mondello Beach, a popular destination among locals and tourists alike. The beach is famous for its clear waters, soft sand, and picturesque views of the surrounding mountains. I spent the day relaxing on the beach and taking pictures of the crystal clear water. 

Tip: To capture the perfect beach photo, wake up early in the morning or stay until sunset to get the best lighting.

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One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

Sant’Elia

Chiara also brought me to Sant’ Elia. 

Sant’Elia is a small fishing village located on the northern coast of Sicily, just a few kilometers from the town of Cefalù. Despite its small size, Sant’Elia is a hidden gem that offers visitors a glimpse into the authentic lifestyle of the locals, away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist crowds.

Sicily Travel Guide

During my visit to Sant’Elia, I was immediately struck by the stunning natural beauty of the area. The village is nestled between a rugged coastline and lush hills, offering breathtaking views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The crystal-clear waters and secluded coves make it a great spot for swimming and sunbathing, while the nearby hills offer excellent hiking trails for those who love to explore.

Sicily Travel Guide

We wandered around the village and explored the narrow streets and alleys. The buildings in Sant’Elia are traditional Sicilian architecture, with colourful facades and intricate balconies. I stumbled upon a small square where locals were gathered, chatting and sipping on espresso at a local café. I felt as though I had been transported back in time, to a simpler and more peaceful way of life.

Sicily Travel Guide
Sicily Travel Guide
 

One of the highlights of my visit was the food. Sant’Elia is known for its excellent seafood, and I enjoyed a delicious lunch of freshly caught fish and homemade pasta at a local trattoria. The dishes were simple but bursting with flavour, and I could taste the freshness of the ingredients in every bite.

Sicily Travel Guide

A visit to Sant’Elia is a must for anyone traveling to Sicily. This hidden gem offers visitors a chance to experience the authentic lifestyle of the locals, away from the tourist crowds. With its stunning natural beauty, bustling fishing industry, and delicious cuisine, Sant’Elia is a true gem that should not be missed.

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Sicily Travel Guide
Sicily Travel Guide
 
Palermo 10 top tips

Here are 10 top tips to help you make the most of your visit to Palermo:

1. Visit the historic landmarks: Palermo has an abundance of historic landmarks to explore, such as the Palermo Cathedral, the Quattro Canti, and the Palazzo dei Normanni.

Sicily Travel Guide

2. Try the local cuisine: Sicilian cuisine is renowned for its delicious flavours and unique ingredients, so make sure to try dishes such as arancini, pasta alla Norma, and cannoli.

3. Take a street food tour: For an authentic taste of Palermo’s cuisine, join a street food tour to sample a variety of local specialties.

Sicily Travel Guide
Sicily Travel Guide
 

4. Explore the local markets: Palermo’s markets are a feast for the senses, with colorful displays of fresh produce, spices, and handicrafts. The most famous markets are Ballarò, Mercato del Capo, and Vucciria.

Sicily Travel Guide

5. Visit the beaches: Palermo has several beautiful beaches, such as Mondello, which is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing.

Sicily Travel Guide

6. Take a day trip to Sant’Elia: Located just a short drive from Palermo, Sant’Elia is a hidden gem that offers visitors a glimpse into the authentic lifestyle of the locals, away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist crowds.

Sicily Travel Guide

7. Enjoy the nightlife: Palermo has a vibrant nightlife scene with plenty of bars, clubs, and live music venues to choose from.

Sicily Travel Guide

8. Take a photography walking tour with Chiara: she will take amazing photos of you and you are going to have lots of fun together! After all, it’s great to meet a local!  

Sicily Travel Guide

9. Relax in a park: Palermo has several beautiful parks and gardens, such as the Villa Giulia and the Giardino Inglese, where you can relax and enjoy the scenery.

Sicily Travel Guide

10. Have a drink at the Seven restaurant, the best rooftop in Palermo. 

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Sicily Travel Guide
Sicily Travel Guide
 
The famous local markets in Palermo 

Palermo is known for its delicious cuisine, so one day should be dedicated to a food tour of the city. Visit the vibrant markets where locals and visitors alike can find everything from fresh produce to unique handicrafts. Here are some of the most famous local markets in Palermo that you shouldn’t miss:

Sicily Travel Guide

Ballarò Market

Located in the heart of the historic center of Palermo, Ballarò is one of the city’s oldest and most popular markets. Start your food tour by visiting the Ballarò Market to sample some of the city’s street food, such as arancini (fried rice balls) and panelle (chickpea fritters).

Next, visit some of the city’s best restaurants to try some of its traditional dishes, such as pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines) and cannoli (a pastry filled with sweet ricotta cheese). 

Here, you can find everything from fresh produce to meat, fish, and cheese, as well as clothing, souvenirs, and street food. It’s a bustling and colorful market that’s a feast for the senses.

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Sicily Travel Guide

Vucciria Market

Once the city’s main market, Vucciria is now a more touristy spot but still worth a visit. It’s known for its lively atmosphere and street food stalls, where you can sample traditional Sicilian dishes like arancine, panelle, and sfincione (a type of pizza).

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Sicily Travel Guide

Mercato del Capo

Located near the Palermo Cathedral, Mercato del Capo is a bustling market that’s popular with locals and tourists alike. Here, you can find fresh produce, meat, and fish, as well as clothing, shoes, and household items. It’s a great place to experience the vibrant and colourful atmosphere of Palermo’s markets.

No matter which market you choose to visit, be prepared for a lively and chaotic experience that’s quintessentially Palermitano.

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Sicily Travel Guide

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Sicily Travel Guide

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Sicily Travel Guide

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Sicily Travel Guide

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Sicily Travel Guide
Sicily Travel Guide
 

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Sicily Travel Guide

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

Book your stay in Sicily with Booking.com

Sicily Travel Guide

One week in Palermo: What to see, do and eat

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3 days in Ortigia, Sicily

3 days in Cefalù, Sicily

A photographer’s guide to Milano

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Disclaimers: 

Photos of the city are taken and edited by me. Photos of me are taken by Mrs. Chiara Fantauzzi with my own camera and they are selected and edited by me.

This blog post is NOT sponsored. It contains affiliate links. I get a commission if you make a purchase through the links which comes at no cost to you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for using my links.

3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

Syracuse is a historic city on the southeast coast of the island. The city is home to a number of ancient ruins, such as the Greek Theater and the Ear of Dionysius, as well as the stunning Ortigia Island. 

3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

Ortigia is a small island located off the coast of Syracuse, in southeastern Sicily. It is often referred to as the heart of Syracuse, as it is the historic center of the city and home to some of its most important landmarks. 

3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

During my visit to Sicily, I had the pleasure of spending 3 days exploring the narrow streets and stunning architecture of Ortigia.

3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

The first thing that struck me about Ortigia was its beauty. The island is a mix of ancient Greek and Baroque architecture, with stunning buildings, churches, and piazzas at every turn.

As I wandered through the winding streets, I came across the stunning Piazza del Duomo, with its ornate Baroque cathedral dominating the skyline. The piazza is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to relax and enjoy the scenery.

3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

Is Ortigia worth visiting?

Ortigia is definitely worth visiting. It is a beautiful and historic place that has a lot to offer to visitors.

Ortigia is home to many ancient buildings and landmarks, including the Temple of Apollo, the Fountain of Aretusa, and the Cathedral of Syracuse. The island also has a charming old town, filled with narrow streets, historic buildings, and traditional markets.

The island is also famous for its delicious cuisine, which features fresh seafood, locally grown fruits and vegetables, and traditional Sicilian dishes.

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3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

Ortigia is also home to some fascinating historical landmarks, including the Temple of Apollo, one of the oldest Greek temples in Sicily. It’s a stunning example of ancient Greek architecture, and it’s incredible to think that it has stood for over 2,500 years.

3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

Another must-see landmark is the Fonte Aretusa, a freshwater spring that is home to a variety of wildlife, including swans and ducks. Legend has it that the nymph Aretusa transformed into the spring to escape the advances of the river god Alpheus. It’s a beautiful spot to relax and take in the scenery, and it’s a great place to escape the heat during the hot Sicilian summer.

3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

If you’re planning a trip to Ortigia, Sicily, and have three days to spend on the island, here’s a suggested itinerary to make the most of your time:

3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

Day 1 in Ortigia:

Start your day by exploring the historic center of Ortigia on foot. Wander through the narrow streets and alleyways, and admire the beautiful Baroque architecture and ancient landmarks such as the Cathedral of Syracuse and the Fountain of Arethusa.

Visit the Mercato di Ortigia, a vibrant and colorful market that offers a wide variety of fresh and local products. Shop for fresh seafood, locally grown produce, and traditional Sicilian products such as olives, capers, and dried tomatoes.

In the afternoon, head to the beach and soak up some sun. Cala Rossa Beach and Fontane Bianche are both popular beaches near Ortigia.

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3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

Day 2 in Ortigia:

Start your day with a visit to the Archaeological Park of Neapolis in Syracuse, which features ancient Greek and Roman ruins, including a Greek theater and a Roman amphitheater.
Head to the Ear of Dionysius, a unique limestone cave named after the Greek tyrant Dionysius I, located in the Archaeological Park of Neapolis.

In the afternoon, take a boat tour around Ortigia and the surrounding coastline. Admire the stunning cliffs and sea caves, and take a dip in the crystal clear waters.

In the evening, enjoy dinner at one of Ortigia’s many traditional restaurants, which serve delicious Sicilian cuisine.

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3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

Day 3 in Ortigia:

Visit the Museum of Papyrus, located on the mainland near Syracuse, which showcases the history and production of papyrus in ancient Egypt and its influence on the Mediterranean world.

In the evening, take a sunset stroll along the Lungomare di Levante, a scenic promenade along the eastern coast of Ortigia.

This three-day itinerary will allow you to experience the best of Ortigia’s historical and cultural attractions, beautiful beaches, delicious cuisine, and traditional markets, while also exploring the surrounding area and enjoying the natural beauty of the island.

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3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

Top Tip:

Take a boat tour around Ortigia Island to capture stunning views of the city from the sea.

3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

Where to eat in Ortigia

Another highlight of my visit was the food. Ortigia is known for its excellent seafood. I had some of the best seafood dishes of my trip at a local restaurant. From fresh calamari to succulent prawns, every dish was bursting with flavor and cooked to perfection.

My favourite restaurant was Casa Trimarchi. Order caponata, baccalà, and pasta all norma. I chose this restaurant to celebrate my birthday. The ambience was warm and friendly and the service was attentive and kind.

If you are looking for vegan options, go to “MOON – Move Ortigia Out of Normality”.

3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

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3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

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3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

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All you need to go before you go to Siracuse

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All you need to go before you go to Siracuse

The Cathedral of Ortigia

The Cathedral of Ortigia, also known as the Cathedral of Syracuse, is one of the most important and impressive landmarks in the historic center of Ortigia. The cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is located on the Piazza del Duomo and dates back to the 7th century.

All you need to go before you go to Siracuse

Over the centuries, the cathedral has been rebuilt and expanded several times, resulting in a beautiful mix of architectural styles. The exterior features a Baroque façade, while the interior boasts a mix of Byzantine, Norman, Gothic, and Baroque elements.

All you need to go before you go to Siracuse

The cathedral is open to visitors and offers guided tours, which provide a fascinating insight into the history and architecture of this impressive building.

Whether you’re interested in art and architecture or just want to experience the spiritual and cultural significance of this ancient landmark, the Cathedral of Ortigia is definitely worth a visit.

All you need to go before you go to Siracuse

Movies that have been filmed in Ortigia

The Piazza Duomo in Syracuse is a beautiful and historic square that plays an important role in Giuseppe Tornatore’s 2000 film “Malèna”. The film, set in a small Sicilian village during World War II, tells the story of a young boy named Renato who becomes infatuated with the beautiful Malèna, played by Monica Bellucci.

Throughout the film, the Piazza Duomo serves as a central gathering place for the villagers, and is often shown bustling with activity and life. In one memorable scene, Malèna walks through the square, causing heads to turn and tongues to wag with her stunning beauty and elegance.

The Piazza Duomo also serves as a symbol of the changing times, as the arrival of American soldiers during the war brings new energy and excitement to the village. The square becomes a hub of activity as soldiers mingle with the locals, dancing and celebrating together in the shadow of the cathedral.

All you need to go before you go to Siracuse

The Cathedral of Syracuse, which overlooks the square, also plays an important role in the film. Its grandeur and beauty serve as a counterpoint to the poverty and hardship experienced by many of the villagers, and its presence provides a sense of continuity and stability in the midst of a chaotic and uncertain time.

All you need to go before you go to Siracuse
Overall, the Piazza Duomo and the Cathedral of Syracuse provide a stunning backdrop for Tornatore’s beautiful film, capturing the essence of Sicilian village life and the power of beauty and resilience in the face of adversity.

The Viennese Girl: Best photography and travel tips

3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

The Viennese Girl: Best photography and travel tips

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The Viennese Girl: Best photography and travel tips

The Viennese Girl: Best photography and travel tips
The Viennese Girl: Best photography and travel tips
 

The Viennese Girl: Best photography and travel tips

The Viennese Girl: Best photography and travel tips
The Viennese Girl: Best photography and travel tips
 

The Viennese Girl: Best photography and travel tips

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The Viennese Girl: Best photography and travel tips

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3 days in Ortigia, Sicily: what to see, do and eat

The Viennese Girl: Best photography and travel tips
The Viennese Girl: Best photography and travel tips
 

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Ortigia is a beautiful and fascinating destination that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. It is definitely worth visiting if you are planning a trip to Sicily.

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The Viennese Girl: Best photography and travel tips

The Mercato di Ortigia

The Mercato di Ortigia is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the island.

The local market is a vibrant and colourful market that offers a wide variety of fresh and local products. It is a great place to experience the local culture and get a taste of traditional Sicilian cuisine.

The Viennese Girl: Best photography and travel tips

One of the highlights of the market is the fresh seafood section. The fishmongers offer a variety of fresh fish, including swordfish, tuna, and octopus, that are caught locally and sold the same day. Visitors can watch as the vendors clean and prepare the fish right in front of them.

The market also features a section for fruits and vegetables, where visitors can find locally grown produce such as tomatoes, eggplants, oranges, and lemons. The fruits and vegetables are freshly picked and bursting with flavor, making them a great addition to any meal.

The Mercato di Ortigia

In addition to seafood and produce, the market also offers a variety of meats, cheeses, and traditional Sicilian products such as olives, capers, and dried tomatoes. There are also stalls selling handmade pottery, textiles, and other souvenirs.

The Mercato di Ortigia is not only a great place to shop for food and souvenirs, but also a place to socialize and connect with the locals.

Visitors can chat with the vendors and learn more about the products they are selling, as well as get tips on how to prepare traditional Sicilian dishes.

The Mercato di Ortigia

In conclusion, Ortigia is a small but incredibly beautiful island that should not be missed during a visit to Sicily. From its stunning architecture to its delicious food and fascinating history, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you spend a day or a week exploring Ortigia, it’s sure to be a highlight of your trip to Sicily.

WHERE TO NEXT?

Discover more of my Italy guides!

3 days in Cefalù

One week in Palermo

Puglia: Things to do & places to visit 

A guide to Milano

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Disclaimer: This blog post is NOT sponsored. It contains affiliate links. I get a commission if you make a purchase through the links which comes at no cost to you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for using my links. All photos are taken and edited by me.

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