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Palermo market off-limits after building collapse

Ex-art installation symbolised neglect of iconic Vucciria

06 February, 16:23
Palermo market off-limits after building collapse (ANSA) - Palermo, February 6 - The civil protection department and municipal employees were hard at work Thursday to secure a square in the heart of Palermo's historic Vucciria market after an abandoned building there collapsed.

The structure in Piazza Garraffello - long the symbol of the state of neglect affecting the entire zone - crumbled on Wednesday evening, destroying a mobile food kiosk parked just outside.

However no one was reported injured in the collapse.

For several years the building had served as a base for an art installation by the young Austrian artist Uwe Jaentsch featuring used items of clothing, amputated dolls, empty tins of tomato and other rubbish collected in the area. The square is now to remain closed until further notice as the authorities check the stability of other buildings in the area. "The area will be off-limits until all the neighbouring buildings have been made secure, such as Palazzo Mazzarino which is partly at risk of collapse," architect Francesco Mereu of the municipal civil protection department said. Piazza Garraffello is at the centre of the iconic open-air street-food market in the Sicilian capital and is also an important nightlife area for young people.

The city council has spent 2.4 million euros over two years to upgrade the pavement and underground systems in the Vucciria.

However residents told ANSA that without a change of heart by local property owners and tenants the "city within a city" is destined to continue crumbling.