Near Palermo - a museum entirely dedicated to anchovies

Every year the Museum of Anchovies and Maritime Arts in the fishing village of Aspra welcomes thousands of visitors and tells the story of Sicily. The brothers Girolamo and Michelangelo Balistreri have created a museum of the blue fish typical of Sicily, which narrates the qualities and gastronomic culture behind the famous anchovy. The brothers Balistreri have taken on the mission of defending the the art of fishing and salting anchovies and telling the story of one of the oldest traditions of the local community. Aspra is a small village of the municipality of Bagheria (a few kilometers from Palermo), a seaside village that is thought to date back to the period of Arab domination where, even today, fish canning is one of the dominant sectors of the local economy with anchovies preserved in salt and oil which are exported all over the world. The village is characterized by its narrow cobbled streets, the colorful fishing boats, the authentic atmosphere of the building which in the past served as a processing plant for local fish and which today is the Anchovy and Maritime Arts Museum.

The guided tour lasts a couple of hours. The museum is made up of a collection divided into ten rooms that allow the visitor to take a journey through relics and documents that photograph centuries of procedures for salting fish in Sicily. The museum is an authentic treasure chest of island and sea treasures that tells the story of men who handled and knew how to interpret the work of fishing and its multiple processes and transformations. It is also possible to taste all the products processed by the Balistreri family company thanks to the Fish Shop - A Putia ri Pisci Salati. But one of the most fascinating aspects also concerns the possibility of attending and participating in the practical demonstration of anchovy processing led by expert local fishermen who share their secrets about blue fish and its processing. 

The Cinema room is interesting with the masterpieces of Tornatore (originally from nearby Bagheria) and the part dedicated to "Sard'Art", around 100 pieces of ancient boats embellished by the artists who brought the ancient "sardare" back to life. Entrance to the museum is free but visitors are given the opportunity to leave a contribution in favor of the Anchovy and Maritime Arts Museum Association which today manages the structure visited every year by over 5,000 visitors. 

Spaghetti con acciughe di Sicilia

To wet your appetite for this Sicilian delicacy, where a simple to prepare pasta dish with anchovies.


250 g of Barilla Al Bronzo spaghetti; cloves of Nubìa red garlic; 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil; black peppercorns; fresh parsley; 4 Cetara anchovy fillets

30 g of Cilento buffalo butter; 50 g of ready-made bread (alternatively homemade)


To prepare spaghetti with Sicilian anchovies and Cilento buffalo butter on a base of bread crumbs, cut the bread into coarse pieces and remove the skin and core from the garlic. Fill a glass jar halfway with extra virgin olive oil, inserting the garlic, anchovies and black pepper. Cook for 1 hour at 60°C, placing the tightly closed glass jar in a pan filled with water. Leave to cool for a few moments, open the jar, filter the oil, recover the garlic and anchovies and remove the peppercorns. Crush the garlic and place it in a pan with the anchovies; sauté the bread in a very hot pan with two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Drain the spaghetti al dente, toss them in the pan with the garlic and anchovies and mix them with the Cilento buffalo butter and a spoonful of cooking water. Place the hot bread crumbs on the base of the plate and place a volcano of very hot spaghetti on top. Drizzle the spaghetti with Sicilian anchovies and Cilento buffalo butter on a base of bread crumbs with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil kept aside in the glass, decorating with parsley and an anchovy. Buon appetito!

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