Yes there was some kind of gang activity but I didn’t tell you that.Well not really, but you can definitely sense some kind of tension around certain corners. But nevertheless I never felt unsafe.
The weekend following Spring Break we had decided to go to Sicily, arguably the most Italian place ever. According to Italian Americans at least. A little fun fact: Sicily was so far south that any new development in the north of Italy didn’t reach Sicily until much later. Leaving the island to slip into a bit of poverty, which created a huge emigration of Sicilians to America. Hence the large population of Sicilians in America.
We arrived in Palermo around 10AM, we flew good ol’ Rynair. Our taxi to our Airbnb was about an hour and half, but the views were forgiving We weren’t able to check-in quite yet, but the host allowed us to keep our luggage in a spare room until 1PM.
We walked around a bit getting familiar with our neighborhood. Since we had an 8:30AM flight food was our main priority at that moment. We quickly learned that Thursday was a day of rest for most businesses so our options were slim. But we finally found a small bistro that was happy to have us. Afterwards we decided to make our way to a local food market that our Airbnb host had told us about. On the way we found a wonderful plaza with a central fountain. Later we learned it was named Fontana della Vergogna. Sculptures dotted its edge as water flowed through the structure.
Following we found a church, Chiesa del Gesu. It had to be one of my favorite churches that I have visited thus far. It was unlike the traditional ones in Florence. But rather a more of a vibrant and charismatic feel to it. There was gold swirling around bold colored mosaics and tall columns with intricate detail that separates itself from what is known to be traditional.
After getting lost for a bit we finally found Mercarto Ballaro. It carried stands of vibrant fruits and vegetables. Others had various types of fish displayed on top of a bed of ice. From stingrays to tuna they had it all. We decided to buy fruits for the apartment as part of our homemade aperitivo later in the night. The fruit was ripe and incredibly cheap.
After gathering our snacks, we decided to explore a bit more towards the water’s edge. On the way we found a beautiful park known to be, Orto Botanico di Palermo. Palm trees and cypress trees lined the graven paths. Cactuses poked its way through the flowers bushes, while locals enjoyed their picnics in under towering trees. After strolling around for a bit we settled down and enjoyed a bit of our fruits, soaking in the warm sun that had been missing in Florence for quite some time.
After a short sunbathing session we continued onward towards the ocean. Following along the walking path, the only thing that separated us the man made cubical rocks that prevented the waves from disrupting the city itself.
Our apartment was cozy and spacious with technically three bedrooms. one of them overlooked the living room and wasn’t completely closed off. Essentially a loft “room.” The large patio was equipped with a BBQ for warmer weather and set to enjoy a glass of wine outside as the sun set over the marina that rested across the street. Mountains can be seen from either end of it, and embraced the ocean.
The following day we had set plans to go to Mondello beach, where our host had highly recommended to visit. It was about half an hour taxi ride split amongst the six of us, it came down to five euros per a person. The beach had slushees and snack booths along it, with restaurant storefronts facing the crystal clear waters. Towards the east end of the beach a mountain range can clearly be seen. As we admired the view a young girl noticed us staring and attempted to tell us something in Italian. We couldn’t fully comprehend what she was saying until her mother had translated that the mountain looks like a dog laying on his stomach with his head to the ground. After a moment we finally saw the shape that she saw as well. We couldn’t find the name of the mountain for the life of us, but it was quite a sight to see.
The beach was a relaxing time. With a cold front coming in there wasn’t much tanning to be done. I had the anticipation of going into the water despite its frigid temperature. But as I approached the waterfront I noticed there were jellyfish in the water. A young boy had told me to watch out because they do sting after showing me his own battle wound. I made my way around the floating jellies and braced myself for the ice cold water. From there we ate our burgers that we had bought from a local shop and relaxed on the sandy front.
The following day we had set out for a food hunt. We wanted to try the food. How can you visit Sicily without hunting down the best cannolis in Palermo? Well I’ll tell you what, that is exactly what we did. And damn was it good.
But on our way we had stopped at Chiesa del SS. Salvatore. The church itself was turned into an auditorium, sadly I was not impressed. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t beautiful for others. We had bought a ticket that granted entry to the cathedral and admission to climb to the top of the dome. The view of the city was warm and inviting in a way where you felt humbled to be in such a cultured city.
We continued on and found the Cattedrale di Palermo, which was beautiful and vast. Gold detailing from wall to wall. It could honestly go on forever. But my favorite part of the cathedral was the courtyard and it’s gardens. It allowed visitors to soak up the sun or enjoy a rice ball that could be found from a local shop down the block. I’m not one for rice as much, but the dish itself was delicious.
We hiked our way to Trattoria Familiare da Michele & Jolanda, a small family owned restaurant. The walls were covered in photos of travelers with Michael and Joldanda (yes they’re married!) Since they had just opened we had the whole restaurant to ourselves. Michael greeted us warmly and made sure we felt at home. He told us to call him Uncle Michael and requested a picture with us and our cannolis.
We returned to the Airbnb shortly to freshen up for dinner with other friends that was visiting Palermo as well. We’ve decided on the best pizza in Palermo, Ciccio Passami l’Olio. Unfortunately I do not have a picture of the pizza, but I can assure you it was pretty damn good. Considering it was the first non-chain pizza I’ve had in Italy (curse you Mister Pizza!!)… Yes I know I should be ashamed. I’ll eventually make it to Gusta Pizza I promise!
Our trip then took a turn… As we settled into bed around 1:30AM Taylor had decided to check her email. When receiving an email to check into our flight tomorrow she had noticed the time of our flight. Throughout the whole trip we thought we had all of Sunday in Palermo since our flight was at 8:30PM… Well we were wrong. Taylor in that moment read that our flight was at 6:30. In the MORNING. In other words in five hours. Everyone had groaned and looked as if they wanted to cry. You could imagine how entertaining this was to me but I too felt a bit of pain. That night we had all slept for three hours and made it to our 6:30AM flight on time. Although it was at an ungodly hours, the flight had a sight that as unforgettable. It proved why I rather take flights early in the morning…
Once seeing that sight I could tell you that my flight was swell.