Throughout the Mediterranean, the heat and relaxed lifestyle make for dining later in the evening. However, between the afternoon snack and dinner, there’s a tradition of having cocktails, sometimes “rinforzato” ones which are significant enough to be considered a whole course in themselves. Here’s some original ideas for cocktail time from 7.00 to 9.00 pm.
GOING TO THE TAVERN AZZURRA IN THE HEART OF THE MARKET AREA
We start with a real classic. During the evening, there are no longer any fruit, fish, spice or vegetable sellers in the Vucciria Market and the Taverna Azzurra opens at that time. Begun in 1896, it represents, perhaps, the last old-style Tavern in the city. There, you can drink for little and run into all types, from factory workers to lawyers. It has an early closing and there is no room to sit inside. I would recommend having a drink and then walking around the neighbourhood. It’s filled with notable street art, beginning with the stimulating work of the Austrian artist Uwe Jaentsch. He is often found in Piazza Garrafello, where he has a picturesque, coloured wooden stall from which he offers his works.
DRINK A FUTURIST “POLIBIBITA” AT CLOSE
This spot, near the centre of Palermo, offers Futurist “polibibite”. These drinks revive the cocktail tradition invented by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and the Futurist vanguard in the early 1900s in order to stimulate conversation and the exchange of ideas. The conical shape of the Campari Soda bottle grew out of this Futurist tradition and the names of these cocktails and the containers they come in are always out of the ordinary. Close is full of movie quotes and démodé music. The bartender Adriano Rizzuto always has an anecdote or some advice (as well as a drink) to serve up.
MINGLE WITH THE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS AT THE VESPA CAFÈ
Slipping into the lanes in front of the Teatro Massimo allows you to visit artists’ shops as well mingle with the students. “Better to be a Vespa today that a car tomorrow” is written on the wall of the Vespa Café and the arches there are sometimes adorned with Vespas of all eras. Just ask outside where to continue on with the evening and you’ll end up at a university disco or taking a walk in unexpected places. The average age is low, and even if yours isn’t, it is worth rejuvenating a bit.
EATING TAPAS AS IF YOU WERE IN SPAIN AT 13 TAPAS
After five centuries of Spanish domination, a somewhat Iberian-influenced cocktail at 13 Tapas can’t do any harm. The tapas are very diverse, cold or hot, and can be selected one by one to get a wide variety. Those who prefer spirits can continue the evening in the 13 spin-off called Bootleg, which opened recently and also has a room for cigar smokers, just like the speakeasies of long ago. Its near the port.
THE “CASSETTINA” AT RD70 LA BOTTIGLIERIA
The Bottiglieria offers a platter served in a little wooden box, recalling those seen in the markets of Palermo. Typical items included are: local cheese, pistachio, salami from the Nebrodi mountains and “chunks” of a roasted items like “arancinette” etc. The restaurant is very popular and is an easy walk from the city centre. It is also surrounded by many other spots where you can continue eating and drinking, being in the food area of Palermo which I have mentioned of before.