Palermo Food Tour
Savoring Palermo: In The Markets and Beyond
Quick bite: Join our full-day food tour of historic Palermo and eat your way through the city’s history and rich culture. With more than 10 full tastings in three different markets, explorations of local neighborhoods and visits to historic sites, this tour takes in iconic Palermo as well as lesser-known hidden gems.
It’s easy to fall for the markets of Palermo: sundrenched side streets filled with lemons so bright, ricotta so creamy, capers by the basketful, and, let’s not forget, street food like nowhere else. Vendors in the Ballarò market howl, competing for the attention of hungry shoppers from tables spread with freshly cooked octopus and smoking grills loaded with offal. Stand after stand offer a paper cone of crispy battered and fried seafood, but you can also sit down for a plate of homemade eggplant caponata, studded with pine nuts and raisins. If a thick cut of grilled swordfish doesn’t tempt you, then, carry on, there’s probably a man sitting on an overturned bucket shucking fresh sea urchins just around the corner.
Though the visceral pleasure of Palermo’s edible delights are always close at hand in the colorful street markets of the city, Palermo has so much more to offer beyond the markets. In the eateries of residential neighborhoods and cafes of modern business districts, in small hidden places where Palermatino gather, the dimensions of a real working and eating city, in all of its beautiful complexity, come into view.
On this 5-hour culinary tour of central Palermo, we will explore the city through its iconic dishes and lesser-known traditions, from humble street food to high-art pastries, contrasting the bustle of market life with calmer neighborhood dining culture. We will begin with coffee and pastries in an elegant cafe, absorbing the daily life of Palermo’s upper crust. We’ll then stop by the kitchen of one of Palermo’s best-known female entrepreneurs, greeting the chef and trying her famous anchovy panzerotti. From there we will munch our way through the lively Capo market, with a street snack of fried fish and stuffed sardine rolls, on the way to visit the workshop of one of Palermo’s last puppeteers to see how he brings Sicilian history to life through his craft. In the shadow of a Norman-era Church, where Byzantine and Arab influences come together, we’ll sample one of the city’s best arancina and panelle – fried rice balls and chickpea fritters – both with roots in Arab cooking. In the bakery of a Catholic convent, where nuns have taken an oath to guard their recipes, we will sample the sacred sweet cassata cake. Then, in the Ballarò market, we’ll go from stall to stall as local shoppers do, learning about Sicilian agriculture and sampling local pistachios and other nuts, candied fruits and fresh seasonal fruit juice. No visit to Ballarò would be complete without a bite of stigghiola, grilled lamb intestines, a humble but delicious snack. We’ll make our way to our final market, Vucciria, for a glass of minerally white wine from Mount Etna, to accompany a snack of octopus at a local taverna. Having made our way through three markets and contrasting districts, learned the history behind our bites and met the warm people upholding local culinary traditions, we will finish our time together in the Sicilian fashion, with an artisanal gelato, the sweet finish that unites this city.
Fee includes everything consumed on the walk. Some special features:
|Visits Markets||Visits residential areas|
|Not suitable for gluten-free||Vegetarian and Pescatarian friendly|
|Children welcome||Samples alcohol|
|Difficult with strollers or wheelchair|
- How are you dealing with COVID-19 risk on your walks?
- We have reinforced our commitment to safety with new guidelines to assure maximum safety of our guests on our walks in terms of social distancing and hygiene while maintaining the quality of the experience. For more details on our precautions, read here.
Our routes have been altered during this period of time to ensure the safety of our guests, guides and community. Our cancellation policy is extremely flexible to deal with changes in travel plans.
- What is included in the fee?
- In addition to your Culinary Backstreets guide, all food consumed on the walk – more than a dozen different edible specialties – are included in the price. A limited selection of alcohol is served on the walks and is included in the price.
- Why is the Culinary Backstreets tour more expensive than some other walking tours?
- Our approach is different than most tour companies. Each of our culinary walks is the outcome of considerable research. We work with academics in the field and our own team of experienced professionals – both guides and local journalists. Our ongoing publishing of articles, from restaurant reviews to features about the intersection of food and culture, constantly feeds new material into the culinary walks, so they evolve and constantly improve. Though costly, we believe that this is how to create the quality experiences we strive for.
We practice honest tourism and would never accept a free lunch or any sort of commission. On the contrary, we are proud to know that the money spent during the culinary walk goes to support businesses that we believe in, helping to preserve the social and cultural fabric of the cities we love so dearly.
- How does the payment process work?
- Once you have made a reservation, we require the full $135 fee to be paid in order to complete the online booking. Our online booking system uses Stripe to process secure payments.
- What is your cancellation policy?
- 100% will be refunded if given 1 week notice prior to walk and 50% will be refunded if given 72 hours notice or more.
- Are your walks public or private? How many people are on them?
- Our walks are 2-7 people and are open to the public. If you would like to do a private walk, we may be able to arrange one for an additional fee. Please contact us at email@example.com for more information.
- Can I get a discount if I join more than one walk?
- Yes, we offer a 10% discount to those who join more than one walk. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to join multiple walks.
- Are your walks suitable for people with food allergies?
- This can vary based on a number of factors, including the food item in question. Please email us at email@example.com to discuss your situation before booking. Participants with bell pepper allergy can join this walk.
- Are your walks suitable for vegetarians, pescatarians, and vegans?
- This walk does include a couple of stops where non-meat dishes will not be available, however, at most stops a meat-free option is available. Unfortunately the walk is not very suitable for a vegan diet.
- Are your walks suitable for a gluten-free diet?
- The walk is not very suitable for a gluten-free diet.
- How physically demanding are the walks?
- This walk covers a couple of kilometers of fairly flat terrain. It is not physically strenuous.
- Can children join the walks?
- Of course! We offer a 50% discount to children ages 12 and under, and we do not charge for children under the ages 6 and under.
- Can you pick me up from my hotel? How will I return, once the tour is over?
- Our tour prices don’t include transportation. If you book a tour, you’re responsible for arriving to the pre-arranged meeting spot on your own.
Once the tour is over, we will help you get an authorized, safe taxi to your hotel, or provide directions on public transportation, if you’re interested in that.
- How much food will I get to try?
- This is really up to you. We generally make between 9 and 12 eating stops on our walk and try to include some breaks from eating along the way. The price includes as much food as you’re open to trying. We offer a suggested portion size at each stop and you can take our recommendation if you’d like. Our walks often involve street food and sharing food.
- Is Palermo safe these days?
- Yes, we find Palermo a very safe place to explore. We do hit some crowded markets and always suggest that you keep important valuables and passports at your hotel.