Friday, May 20, 2005
Oh where do I start? Can you tell I’ve been having trouble figuring out the answer to that question? I’ve decided my general approach will be chronological and so my first posts will be about our first stop – Palermo – but even narrowing my focus in that way has not helped. It was such a great trip…and I saw and experienced so much…
So I will just start.
Palermo – a big, noisy, bustling city. In many ways it is like other big cities. We stayed at Centrale Palace which was just steps from Quattro Canti (four corners), the center of old Palermo. Quattro Canti is at the intersection of the roads now known as Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda, and divides the old city into four quarters. At one time the people of Palermo were born, lived and died in their home quarter, seldom if ever crossing over into another.
We arrived on a Saturday afternoon and after settling into our hotel, walked down Corso Vittorio Emanuele towards the city gate, Porta Nuova, stopping to visit the Cathedral along the way. We were not yet adjusted to the time change, nor recovered from the long flight, so by around 6:00 we were in need of dinner and a good night’s rest. Finding dinner at that hour turned out to be problematic since most restaurants do not open until later (8 or 8:30), but we finally found a bar that served sandwiches. It was not the most auspicious start to our culinary adventures in Sicily (what was that white stuff floating in the vinegar?), but it was enough to see us through until morning.
Sunday was not only Sunday, it was a national holiday (Labor Day), so the city was much quieter and many sights were closed. We managed to find plenty to occupy our attention though. We visited several churches, including one of my favorites – La Martorana. We had hoped to visit the botanical garden, but found it closed. The adjacent public garden, Villa Giulia, was open, so we stopped in there. I liked this garden very much – better even than the botanical garden which we visited the next day. The gardens were beautiful and not at all crowded. There are also some rather run-down monuments, but I think that is part of their charm.
Yikes, it’s late (it’s amazing how long I can sit here agonizing over a measly four paragraphs). Stay tuned – Sunday turned out to be a fantastic day food-wise, and we also had a rather spooky visit to Palazzo Mirto.