A huge effort has been made in the last few years to bring a new life to the historical city centre of Palermo, one of the most beautiful capitals in Europe if not in the world.
Private and public investors continued to make a significant contribution to transform the area around the most famous "Quattro Canti" (the cross between via Maqueda and via Vittorio Emanuele) into a sort of Sicilian Rambla.
A breathtaking scene cornered by the Teatro Massimo (North), the Cathedral (West) and La Cala (East) ensures the perfect ambience for this ambitious project.
Of course wine plays an important role as part of this Renaissance. Wine (at least in its best and most genuine expressions) is indeed a carrier of Terroir, of local culture, of local values, it comes often with local food and music and it is an amplifier of a non-local (indeed universal) sense of joy.
Man is made for beauty and joy. Ignorance, terror, darkness may be experienced by each one of us during our journey, but should never be the ultimate distraction to our aspiration to joy and beauty.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
... (C.P. Cavafy)
So, back to wine. A pure case of serendipity. "Serendipity is looking in a haystack for a needle and discovering a farmer's daughter", Julius Comroe Jr. used to say. In my case, I was looking for other sorts of needles, as I was searching for prickly artichokes -a sublime delicatessen that rarely can be found outside Palermo area.
I was directed to the Vucciria market, walking first through via Maqueda when I bumped into the recently opened wine bar ENOTEQUA.
The name is a soft twist of the italian word 'enoteca', in which the 'c' has been replaced by the 'qu' recalling the name of via Maqueda, where the wine bar is located at the civic 274. Not the farmer's daughter welcoming you at the door, yet beautiful black&white portraits of women on the walls and lovably competent girls assisting you with the wine and food selection. The owner -Pietro Ferrotti- is very attentive and approaches the tables double checking every customers' experience is up-to-standards.
The focus at ENOTEQUA is not just on blazoned producers but also -and especially- on small artisanal Sicilian producers. We had a refreshing Cerasuolo di Vittoria from Casa di Grazia to match our Sicilian couscous and local cheese.
Very few seats, a charming ambience, a carefully compiled wine list, amazing tapas featuring local products and -last but not least- an amazing value for money make this petite oenothèque a marvellous discovery and a must-try destination for your next visit in Palermo.