Things that go bang in the night
Lucky Luciano was one of the mafia leaders that the Americans recruited to help them when they invaded Sicily in WWII. Like most of the godfathers, he managed to die a natural death. Many of those who crossed him were not so lucky. The closest old Cliffie got to the mafia in Sicily was a couple of times, late at night, when he heard a small bomb explode in a shop doorway in a nearby street. Just a warning to let the shopkeeper know he was slipping behind with his 'insurance' payments. Bacio le mani a Vossignoria!
Flying visit for the sweet tooth
Part coffee house (you can stand at a bar with a hot or cold drink) part sweet shop and part bakery - you can look through a glass wall at the on site bakery as they go about producing the delicacies Fresh fruit tartlets , chocolate cakes, creamed sweets.....the lot !
The fascinating Kalsa quarter, designed and constructed by the Saracens, was home to the emir during the Arab period. However, after a massive WWII bombing attack, it became one of the city's most destitute zones and it's many beautiful monuments fell into neglect. Only recently have these weathered architectural masterpieces been rediscovered and restored .
Kalsa is the most obviously Moorish district in Palermo. It was originally a fortified town where 10th century emirs held court, and the name Kalsa itself derives from Arabic: Al Halisa, 'the Elect'. Even today local residents speak in a dialectal variant full of unique sounds, such as the aspirated initial of the name of the district. Instead of the 'K' in Kalsa, they say Hausa.
Palermo At Last (Finis)
"How to Arrive by Car"
As we had planned,the last leg of our tour was Palermo. We returned from Cefalu by A19 onto via Oreto (N) and cut rt. at the Stazione Centrale to via Roma (again N) to where our hotel was (Hotel Moderno, see tip). At this point our plans disintegrated! Via Roma is a WIDE (7 lanes) one way street and the Hotel is on the left side; BUT the left lane (#8) is reserved for buses , taxis, ambulances(etcs?) and is counterflow (going S). Do we pull up on the rt. and "attempt" to bring luggage across (the hotel occupies only the upper floors of the building and there is no entrance or doorman).No way! We pulled up 1/2 on the curb on the left and I tried to summon help from the hotel. It worked, but one year later we have received an obscure letter about a traffic violation somewhere that last day(were we caught on an anti-Mafia police camera?). As yet we have received no explanation only a request for 75 euro.
"Two Days of Art and Antiquity"
After claiming our rooms, it was time to return the car(rientro) at the Stazione Notabrtolo in the N. part of the city (NOT at the Stazione Centrale!). With difficulty (described elsewhere) this was done and we returned to the Hotel by taxi and spent the evening with a well-earned dinner nearby (Hostaria da Cicco,see tip). Day 1 was devoted to the W, edge of town (where we had driven past the day before). We took a taxi to the Poveri for the Art Exhibition but we were too early and so walked the 2 blocks to the Convento Cappuccini and its mummies (and joke-daddies and babies). That done we returned to the Art and the Anotonello (1) and de Chirico(also1), no photos since it was a "borrowed exhibit". We walked E. to the Porto Nuova looking for a difficult to find bite to eat, all the way to the Cathedral. The church and the pizza took the time until the Cappella Palatina opened and after visiting it our aged bones said "finito".Our dinner was so pleasant (Casa del Brodo; see tip) we reserved a late table for the next night after the Opera. Day 2 started across via Roma from the Hoetel with visits to S. Domenico and the Vucciria followed by a walk behind the Church to the Oratorios del Rosaria. The one called Domenico was closed for restoration but the other one block further (S. Cita) was open and eliminated our mounting frustration. Do not miss one or both if you want to see Baroque at its most florid! We went on to the Museo Archeologico and another frustration. It was open but the greatest sights were not.
"The Last of Sicily"
Either Rms 9-14 were closed or we could not find the entrance at the far end of the 2nd cloister. But there was plenty of other things. Hunger drove us past the Piazza Pretoria (fragmentedly visible under cleaning) and a very late lunch at the Pizzeria Bellini (see tip, us and others). We decided that the adjacent 3 churcues would start the next morning and headed home to rest before the Opera, Cimarosa's "Matrimonio Segreto". Our last day started with the Matorana, San Cataldo and the Teatini followed by a walk to th waterfront down Corso V. Emanuele. Near the Porta Felice we visited the Puppet Museum and decided that we would terminate our sightseeing with lunch and return to our scheduled taxi (40 euro for 4) to the airport and flight to Rome where we would spend our last week.