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Vucciria is not quite bustling.
Vucciria is not quite bustling.
Laura Anello

PALERMO — As the Sicilian capital's oldest market, La Vucciria has long drawn visitors from around the world for its myriad colors and aromas. While its peculiar traditions live on, with vendors barking out in the local dialect to sell their products to passersby, the market is a shadow of its former self. Once immortalized in painting by the artist Renato Guttuso and on the screen by the director Roberto Andò, both native Sicilians, the market is now mostly in ruins, with just a few stalls selling fruit.

La Vucciria, however, has become the stage of a battle between a group of local businessmen, committed to redeveloping the neighborhood and building new apartments, and the infamous Sicilian Mafia, which wants to keep control of the city like it has for much of the past century. After a devastating earthquake struck Sicily in 1968 and emptied the historic city center of its residents, organized crime prospered and the market was reduced to a mere tourist attraction.

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May 21-22

  • A liberated Ukrainian village
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