Today our GustiBus takes us to discover the origins of pane e panelle (panelle sandwich) – one of the protagonists of street food in Palermo – more than a thousand years away!

As we have already seen, like most of the typical Sicilian recipes also panelle have Arab origins: already during the ninth century the Arabs began to grind chickpeas to create a flour to be mixed with water and aromas, not particularly tasty but highly nourishing, therefore essential for the nutrition of the common people.

It took not a long time to discover that the mixture resulting in a thin sheet cooked using very high heat, or to be fried, could be something extremely tasty and unforgettable. That is how panelle came to life! It is no coincidence that this recipe has come down to the present day, beeing not only a typical dish, which when paired with bread becomes the street food par excellence, but also a profession, that of the “panellaro”, each one of holder of his own personal recipe.

With his cart on street corners equipped with a saucepan full of steaming oil and tons of fresh bread, the “panellaro” sold (and still sells) its delicacies to young and old people, to every social class and even to famous clients such as Pirandello, Sciascia and Guttuso.

Although any time of the day, and of the year, is ideal for a “coppo” with panelle, they are traditionally eaten on Saint Lucia’s day, even in the sweet version with ricotta and powdered sugar.

An unmissable experience for tourists visiting Palermo, the panelle sandwich is often combined with another of the typical Palermo delicacies, potato croquettes and, for the more daring, even fried aubergines, in a blaze of Sicilian delicacies.


Although the current situation is still quite complex, lots of people are starting to think about summer vacations: thanks to the projections of the Tourism Economics Observatory of the Chambers of Commerce of Isnart and Unioncamere – according to which 80% of the Italians interviewed said they wanted to plan a holiday for 2021, as soon as it becomes possible – we learn the first news about the summer tourism sector in Sicily.

The first news comes from Palermo Falcone e Borsellino Airport, which in addition to having expanded its routes with the inauguration of the Palermo-Amsterdam one with EasyJet, announces that it has activated rapid and reliable “second generation” antigen-tests in order to make airport prevention measures faster and more effective.

Interesting news also come from important Sicilian cities with tourist attractions such as Taormina, which is preparing to become the reference point for the Sicilian summer 2021: consistent with the health emergency, the calendar of events of the Ancient Theater is already being planned, among which are confirmed the TaoBook and the Taormina Film Festival. On the other hand, the intention is to make the Castle of Monte Tauro accessible again securing the path and with a new public lighting system.

In addition to travel and places of interest, there also some news regarding the hospitality sector, which seem to suggest that the protagonists of the summer will be apartments, B&Bs and guest houses, which can represent a more flexible and last minute vacation that, inevitably, will be the most popular during the next hot season.

Sicily, thanks to its characteristics, cultural and natural beauties will probably be among the protagonists of the second most unusual and particular summer of the contemporary era, with the hope of being able to enjoy its characteristics in tranquility and safety.

Bus tales

Among the streets of Palermo city centre there is a unique place, full of charm and mystery, the Castello della Zisa, which is surrounded by its magnificent garden.

Built around 1165 in Norman style and renovated a few years ago, the building is one of the symbols of the domination and culture alternations that have followed one another in Palermo, becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Arab-Norman itinerary of Palermo, Cefalù and Monreale in 2015 .

La Zisa represented a real paradise just outside the city, an oasis full of exotic animals, fruit plants, palm groves and suggestive fountains: the term itself “Zisa” contains all the beauty of the place, as it derives from the Arabic Al-Aziza, that means “the splendid”. In addition to its flourushing garden, the inside of the structure was also considered a heavenly place, a place where it was possible to enjoy some cool air: its architecture, the ventilation system given by the particular arrangement of the windows and the inner channels, inside which flowed water, led to a lowering of the temperature compared to the outside climate, offering some shelter from the sultry Sicilian summers.

In addition to its architectural peculiarities, the Zisa is also a place full of mysteries, mainly due to the presence of the “devils” that are painted on the arch of the Sala della Fontana: although they are actually mythological figures, the subjects of the fresco were traditionally associated with spiteful little devils that could come to life and that were put in that place to protect a mysterious hidden treasure. The position of the painting, in fact, creates a particular optical effect that deceives the observer, making the figures appear to be in motion and even making it almost impossible to count the exact number. Legend also has it that the cause of the strong wind in the city derives from their escape from the Palace, which by opening the doors caused the fresh air to go outside.

In fact, the sayings “Today the devils of the Zisa are freed” when a strong wind blows or “As many as there are devils of the Zisa” to indicate an uncertain and mysterious quantity, date back to this legend.

To date, a look at the “devils” is a must during a visit to Palermo and at the Castle, where the legend is able to fascinate adults, children, tourists and citizens, all with their noses up counting, in vain, their exact number!


From the prospects regarding travel tendencies in 2021, Italy – as already happened last sommer – is expected to be the main destination for the travels of Italians, which during this last period have discovered, or rediscovered, its suggestive places and villages.

The desire to discover the most hidden corners of our country has also involved the most important international fashion houses, which have chosen Italy as sets of their advertising campaigns, selecting non-mainstream places really close to us.

The first case, more “close” to us in every sense, is the one of Dolce e Gabbana’s spot called Devotion: the fashion house returned to Sicily last summer to create a real short set in Villa Valguarnera near Bagheria , with Ennio Morricone’s music and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, who was born in Bagheria.

Another fashion brand that chose Italy and the Italian excellence in the movie sector is Dior with its “Il Castello dei Tarocchi”, a 15-minute short film that speaks about the new haute couture collection with Sammezzano Castle near Florence, as location, which is characterized by a particularly eclectic and original style that has been able to give the spot the esoteric and mysterious imprint that director Matteo Garrone wanted to communicate to the public.

The same trend is also used by Gucci, which in the past has accompanied us on a journey to Italy with a glamorous taste but also focused on the very essence of the country, portrayed in its most genuine expressions: if two years ago the brand chose as set the baroque ruins of Canale Monterano near Rome, last summer it was Umbria that welcomed Gucci in La Scarzuola, an architectural project in Montegabbione.

The two-year period 2020-2021 is therefore marking a new union between fashion and Italy, which goes beyond the obvious symbols that characterize Italian fashion but rather seals a new path made of Italianness and authenticity typical of Made in Italy, elements that are captuirng the attention of travelers in this very particular period.


Today our GustiBus stops in the Catania area, telling us about one of the most famous dishes of the Sicilian tradition: pasta alla Norma! Symbol of the warmth of Sicily, with its fresh tomato, golden aubergines and salted ricotta, even pasta alla Norma has its own specific origin which, as often happens with Sicilian dishes, is full of curiosities and legends.

The origins of pasta alla Norma go back to two different legends, but both referring to the famous opera by Vincenzo Bellini, a famous composer from Catania. According to an early legend, the recipe was served for the first time at the opera debut dinner, on December 26th, 1831, and was named after the main protagonist; another tradition, on the other hand, traces the name back to a dinner in 1920 when playwright Nino Martoglio from Catania exclaimed ” chista è ‘na vera Norma!” (this is a real Norma!).

In both cases, the famous Sicilian recipe is associated with something sublime, like an opera, and in fact it is impossible to be wrong about this consideration: pasta alla Norma was, and still is, one of the dishes protagonists of the Sicilian tables for generations, gradually conquering the heart of all the Italians.

If, for the other dishes of which we spoke about in our column, we have identified variants typical of a specific area of ​​the region, for pasta alla Norma the original recipe has remained unchanged over the years: the only small exception, accepted almost reluctantly by the purists, concerns the cutting of the aubergine, which should be made into slices but which, very often, can also have the shape of small cubes.

Rich in taste, character and color, pasta alla Norma is a true portrait of the Sicilian people and their land, a dish that must absolutely be tasted during a trip to Sicily.


2021 has just started and we are already thinking about the first anticipations regarding summer travels, with the first important data both in terms of destinations and travelers’ attitudes.

There are many online agencies that are thinking already about the intentions of their users, considering obviously the restrictions on travel conditions due to the health emergency.

Starting from destinations, as we had already seen in spring, the favorite destinations are big metropolises and art cities: Milan, London and Paris are in the top ten, but the absolute protagonist among European cities is Lisbon, already winner of the World Travel Awards in 2020. The city, in fact, maintains its leadership for the highly diversified tourist offer between culture, gastronomy, nature reserves and UNESCO sites.

Other recurring destinations are Dubai and Tokyo, venues respectively of EXPO and the Olympics, both events postponed to 2021.

Going to travel trends, the data for summer 2020 are confirmed, thus marking a concrete change in the habits of travelers, destined to last at least for the entire current season: if the business travel world is significantly reduced, the percentage of last minute trips is instead increased, a symptom that travelers have become accustomed to planning their trips shortly in advance based on the current situation.

Proximity travel still remains a fact not to be underestimated, in fact there are still many travelers who choose as holiday destination places close to their residence, a choice due not only to the uncertainty of the moment but also to the economic repercussions of the recent period.

Making accurate forecasts for summer 2021 is therefore still difficult, but the news regarding health suggest the desire of tourists to start traveling again.


Last month took place the reopening ceremony of the Giuseppe Pitrè Sicilian Ethnographic Museum, after five years of restructuring and reorganization of the exhibition. Although the event was held in presence, on the day of the birth of the Palermitan ethnologist, for the moment the exhibitions and events related to the structure are accessible only in streaming with a calendar full of events

The museum, founded in 1909, collects some of the most important archeological finds and paper documents relating to Sicilian culture and popular traditions: the two sites of the museum contain about 4000 objects, some collected by Pitrè himself and others from ethnographic collections and private donations. The main office, the one inside the garden of the Casina Cinese in the Parco della Favorita, has 30 exhibition rooms and a well-assorted library, according to the structure designed by Pitrè himself.

Conceived to best tell the history of Sicily and its traditions, the Pitrè museum “lives” also in this particular period thanks to the streaming events, inaugurated during the holiday period and which will continue in the coming months: in addition to live shows and performances in streaming inside the museum itself, there are also shows focused on Giuseppe Pitrè, who will virtually accompany us through the rooms he strongly desired.

An important point of reference for those who want to learn more about the culture of the Mediterranean, the Pitrè Museum offers interesting food for thought both for citizens and for those who want to discover the city of Palermo and Sicilian traditions, today in an even easier way, online from your living room!


Great news in the world of online payments: Strong Customer Authentication, the so-called “strong authentication” (SCA), is active starting from December 31st, which provides for a further step of personal authentication for web payments.

The SCA is required by the Payment Service Directive (P2D2), which, together with the opening of financial services to the online world, has introduced these necessary new security systems to protect the user.

The double level of authentication includes the so-called 3D Secure 2 (3DS2), a more advanced recognition system than 3D Secure 1, which provides for biometric recognition via the bank’s App or with a “disposable” code that arrives via SMS to the number associated with the credit card: it is believed that the new procedure with 3D Secure 2 makes payment times longer, a small price to pay in order to obtain more security for online payments.

As with all forms of online payment, 3DS2 must also be entered for the purchase of tickets on our platform and on our App.


During these quiet and festive days, Palermo has had as guests journalists, bloggers, national and international influencers, participants in the #flytopalermo initiative aimed at showing not only the city, its culture and places, but also all the projects dedicated to the restart 2021.

This “suspended” period was in fact used by personalities of culture and of the city institutions to think about the restart of the new year, which is almost here, developing techniques and relaunch initiatives dedicated to companies, tourist, hotel and cultural associations.

The team of guests involved stood out for the variety of professionals chosen, from influencers to designers, from bloggers to food and wine journalists. The point of view of foreign journalists is particularly valuable in terms of opening the city to an increasingly international and diversified audience.

For two weeks, the correspondents took turns following a busy calendar of events and meetings that involved cultural operators, the hospitality, food and wine sectors but not only: visits to the historic center and the surroundings, such as Monreale or the Madonie, were also organized to breathe the city’s and in general the Sicilian atmosphere.

The feedback from the guests involved was very positive: as many have said, the experience made it possible to have a cultural glimps of Palermo, the foundations of which are the result of a mixture of art, history, culture, food and wine, full of splendor but also of contradictions. Great affection was also shown towards its citizens, described as generous and welcoming enough to make visitors want to go to Palermo again.

Travel notes

One of the main characteristics that strikes visitors when they arrive in Palermo is the great variety of churches that dot the streets of the city, with their different styles, reflecting the dominations that have influenced the very essence of the city.

Our virtual tour begins right from the emblem of the mixture of cultures, the Palatine Chapel, whose artistic syncretism makes it one of the most precious jewels of the city. Consecrated in 1143, the Chapel has decorative elements typical of Western, Islamic and Byzantine cultures, including gold details, carved ceilings and breathtaking mosaics such as that of the Christ Pantocrator among the apostles.

Speaking of mosaics, we cannot fail to mention Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, also known as the Martorana Church, whose interior of typical Byzantine architecture is entirely covered with mosaics that create a striking kaleidoscope of sparkling gold, red and blue. Next to the Martorana is the Church of San Cataldo, with its characteristic red domes that distinguish the skyline of the city.

Continuing through the streets of the historic center to the heart of the Ballarò market, we find Casa Professa, the church of the Jesuit brotherhood: the path from Byzantine to Baroque is short in Palermo, as with this church we abandon the splendor of the mosaics to enter the delicate marble decorations, which completely cover the entire building.

On the other hand, the church of Santa Maria della Catena is of Gothic/Catalan/Renaissance style, so called because of the chain next to it that closed the marina during the 16th century: both the inside and the outside are designed to create a game of spaces and geometries, a real spectacle for the eye that projects the spectator upwards.

The tour ends with one of the symbols of the city, the Cathedral of Palermo: the Chatedral also represents a mixture of different styles (and of uses, considering that it was also a mosque!) and its beauties can be seen not only inside the church itself but also in the areas dedicated to the Treasure (such as Constance of Aragon’s Tiara) in the crypts and even on the roofs, from which it is possible to enjoy an amazing view of the city.