12th Feb to 26th Feb 2016
Palermo for me was not my favourite but certainly had the most character of any place we had been too, there was a lot going on, you would walk down what felt like a very poor street with little tiny shops selling phone cases and not much else and that same street further on would turn into big shops selling expensive clothes and handbags…the same street you would happen upon historical landmarks that would take your breath away, like the Fontana della Vergogna (Fontana Pretoria) and the The Four Corners (Quattro Canti).
On our last day while once again enjoying the almost 500 year old Fontana Pretoria with not much time remaining before we had to leave to get to the airport we were stopped by an older man (a university professor we think) without much English who wanted to tell us how the Mafia was taken down 40 years before.. (the gist of the story was that the main commander was a ‘Rambo’ type (he actually said Rambo repeatedly throughout the story so we’d know who he meant and what that man was like, checking we understood this crucial bit each time) after much to-ing and fro-ing between the police and the mafia with witnesses refusing to testify or having their families punished the police eventually laid siege to the mafia’s town and got them all, breaking the mafia’s stranglehold over the island.)
Streets of Palermo
Ballaro Markets are lively, colourful and full of character, meander through, enjoying the vibrant splashes of colour, it’s a delightful alternative from a mega-supermarket selling everything from lightbulbs to fish, and from strawberries to bags..all out in the open. Instead of getting stuck behind supermarket trollies you can get lost in the mayhem, the occasional moped on your heels, hear the calling out of the traders, smell the subtle scents of the deep red strawberries, and slightly less subtle smells of the massive fish counters.
Walking through after a football game all the traders singing their teams song together, especially at their fellow traders who supported the opposition.
Decapitated pigs heads and bulls heads hang above some of the butchers stalls, this my Lucas struggled with, he actually got very upset by this sight, bless him.
Best of all were the cake shops selling the most delicious ricotta cannoli’s, that totally became our everyday treat.
The Market was surrounded by what looked like semi derelict buildings, and through parts you get glimpses of the chipped mosaic church tops the mix is surely any photographers dream though the contrasts were too much for our old and failing point & shoot.
Fontana della Vergogna (Fontana Pretoria)
Fontana della Vergogna is a huge fountain originally intended to be built in Firenze but was brought to Palermo in pieces and reconstructed, on a slightly smaller scale, in the Piazza.
It is called the Fountain of Shame locally due to the high number of nude statues.
The Four Corners (Quattro Canti)
The Four Corners are amazing, you have to stop from the hustle and bustle around you for at least 10 minutes and take in the amount of detail in these beautiful sculptures that define this busy intersection.
Everything about Palermo was oozing atmosphere, each day, in a smart move that other cities could copy, from about 5pm onwards the main street became pedestrianised the shops of course were also open late after the traditional siesta period, so it made for a great shopping and strolling experience. (Oxford and Regent Street in London should give this a whirl!)
Cathedral of Palermo
There is no shortage of churches, chapels or cathedrals in Sicily but this one is truely breathtaking.
It has a majestic, mesmerizing exterior, it has an interesting mix of styles, and the details are so intricate.
It is one of those buildings that you have to sit back and admire, have a drink in one of the few cafe’s around and just enjoy it being there…it really is a beautiful building.
I liked this Beach, the sand was white and the ocean clear…you can’t ask for much more from a beach. It is meant to be one of the prettiest in Sicily but because we haven’t seen many of the others we can’t comment on that, but if you are in Palermo then you would certainly not be disappointed visiting this beach.
Airbnb Palermo (Sicily) – Loved this place…was only two bedrooms (note the bedrooms are in one space the second bedroom was on a mezzanine up a corkscrew staircase) and was just big enough for us, it had a lot of character, we were literally just up the road to the very famous Ballaro Market.
Once again we were lucky with location, we had everything we needed within walking distance, we really enjoyed our daily walk around the market picking dinner.
Cost $814 NZD for 14 nights
A good read all about what to do in >Palermo< if it rains