Mondello on the way to Trapani and about 30 km to Palermo city center. There are nice summer houses around and alot of young people with their scooters and vespas... Very very crowded!
The sea was having a stunning color... And as I adore seasides I was half unconcious watching the panaroma for a while... And later swimming and taking sun for sure.. ;)
Near the real center of town
This is a simple trattoria with good Sicilian food. (I do not thinkit serves pizza). The mnu is typical and the cooking is fine. I did not expect to write this so I have no notes. We initially picked it because the Hotel recommended it and we were close by. The second visit was partly for the same reason, plus our satisfaction before.The picture is of the Matorana and to the left the Pizzeria Bellini(another tip). Via Firenze is just left of this if you are in this area. We like Sicilian food and I did not make notes
Looking the past in the eye
The catacombs in Palermo are quite different from any other catacombs in Italy. The ones owned by the Capuchin monks, although small, definitely have a flavour all of their own!
The catacombs are adjacent to the main church. On entering the local monks will request a donation. It is a good idea not to pretend you don't understand them! I used to leave a couple of Euro but that might have changed.
You go down the stairs to the actual catacombs which are divided into various sections. The catacombs were initiated when the monks found a new method of drying and preserving bodies and in the beginning they preserved other monks in this way until rich palermitans decided to pay for the privelige.
The first section is of monks and is the oldest section. The unique thing about the catacombs is that you can see the bodies and they are dressed. Some of the corpses still have facial hair and expressions which is more than a little eerie.
There is a section of men and women seperately. These were the nobility and I found it very interesting looking at the dress and costume if you can get over the fact that you are gawping at their actual bodies.
Wheels Across the Water
By the time, we headed off from Naples to Sicily, we were getting a little weary, especially in view of the dramas connected with the robbery in Rome.
A nine hour train trip was actually most welcome as it would give us a chance to sit still for a while and catch our breath.
The highlight of the trip as far as we were concerned was the crossing from Villa San Giovanni to Messina. Whilst I knew that we would have to cross to Messina in a ferry, I couldn't quite believe it when I was told that they put the entire train on to the ferry! But sure enough, that's what happened and the entire process was amazing. One minute we were on a train travelling down the west coast of Italy and the next minute (or so it seemed) after a small amount of huffing and puffing and toing an froing, we were on a huge ferry at sea without ever leaving our seats! The train was divided into two sections which sat side by side in the hold of the vessel. The short trip allowed us enough time to detrain and get a quick coffee in the ferry canteen and before we knew it, we were back on dry land continuing on our merry way across Sicily to Palermo.
We found Palermo to be a busy and bustling place which was easy to negotiate on foot. Our hotel (President) was situated right at the port and I was fascinated watching the ships and huge ferries coming and going at frightening speed. It seemed that everytime I looked out the window there were three or four different ships in port since the last time I looked. The port is never still, even for an hour or two. There is always a vessel arriving or leaving. There is also,always plenty to see in the streets as the people of Palermo go about their daily business. The markets are well attended and the shopping is plentiful. Just walking around the main city centre is a good way to see so much of the history and wonderful architecture in this lovely old city.
"A very special moment..........."
The highlight of my stay in Palermo and indeed one of the most memorable moments of my entire trip happened on a Thursday morning when we were wandering around trying to see as many of the dozens of beautiful churches as we could. Unfortunately, I can't name the church in question as there were so many of them but in this particular church, when we went in, we were delighted to find that there was a wedding under way. We crept down a dark side aisle as quietly as we possibly could and sat down in a remote pew to watch the proceedings. We were no sooner seated than the organ started up and a lady with the most beautiful soprano voice sang Schubert's "Ave Maria" to perfection. It was such a special moment and such a wonderful performance that we were transfixed. A few minutes after she had finished, we came back down to earth and couldn't help feeling that we were intruding in some way, so as quietly as we had arrived, we left. I will never forget it.