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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Shopping in Sicily

Sicilian Cart parade!Image by lemmingsolution via Flickr

By James Iozia

Opportunities for shopping in Sicily are nearly endless. From Palermo's famous craftwork to fine petit point in Taormina and everything in between, you can easily spend days browsing unique stores in Sicily.
If you're from the US, be aware that most of the stores in Sicily are closed daily between 1 and 4pm. They reopen after 4, but most are closed again by 8pm. This is especially true of the family owned shops. Here are a few things to consider bringing home with you.
When you are shopping in Sicily, you will notice a variety of ceramics to choose from. Sicily is one of the leaders in the Italian ceramics market. Important factories are located on the northern coast, between Messina and Cefalu. Colorful "folk" pieces can still be purchased at bargain prices.

Sicilian Carts
The Sicilian cart was the major form of transportation before the introduction of the automobile. The carts are completely decorated with pictures that depict the heroic adventures of the French champions. The cart craftsmen of yesterday and today were all highly skilled. Some "pieces" of the old carts can still be found in antique shops. Modern souvenir-type recreations of the carts are also available, from miniature to full-size.
Food & Wine
When you are shopping in Sicily, you can't help but notice all of the fine cuisine and wines that are available. The nickname "God's Kitchen" is used by many, because of the variety of fruits and vegetables that thrive in the climate. You can enjoy the food while you're there, but it will not travel well.
Some types of cheeses can be taken home and the wine, of course, travels well. You may want to choose the wines that are unique Sicilian varieties, made from the sweet black grapes that are native to the island.
You will notice that many of the stores in Sicily, particularly those in Palermo carry beautiful puppets called "pupi". The families that make these marionettes have passed along the art from one generation to the next. In Palermo, you may be lucky enough to witness a craftsman working on one. If you decide to buy, remember that the pupi are large and heavy, weigh 15kg and being 80 cm high, transporting one home could be problematic.
There are many other specialty stores In Sicily, including some that carry hand made clothing and papyrus. Shopping in Sicily is a great experience, even when you're "just looking".
James has loved Sicily for as far back as he can remember and he returns to this island paradise every chance he gets. His grandparents came to America from this beautiful land in the early 1900's, bringing with them all the tradition and passion that is Sicily. From the beautiful beaches and Roman architecture, to the heavenly food and romantic charm, he hopes you will come to love Sicily as much as he does. Stop by for a visit at

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