Back to Palermo

Back to Palermo

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Before I left Girardini Naxos I found a place to get internet access. I was concerned about reentry into Palermo after my experience getting out. It looked pretty simple so I made detailed notes from Google Maps and was ready to go. The next morning it was raining hard all morning so my hoped for photos of the view from the area of Messina to the mainland were not realized. Of course it’s almost impossible to find a vantage point anyway so maybe it’s a mute point. There are lots of tunnels on the east side north of Taormina and then heading west toward Palermo. Many are 2 or even 3 kilometers long. Always exciting if a BMW wants to pass you going through the tunnel. In any case I decided to stop Cefalu’. A pretty and heavily touristed spot in northern Sicily not too far from Palermo. There are some really spectacular rocks jutting out of the earth around there and it’s a bit hard to get a good picture of them so I will get some from the web. As always, click on any photo to see them uncropped and in all of their glory.

I stopped at a bar and asked where was the best seafood around. He directed me to a place and wrote down the name and street and said it’s only “due passi”  (literally two steps) that is supposed to mean close by but in fact can mean anything from a 20 meters to 2 kilometers. In this case it was the latter. And the restaurant was closed along with a lot of others because the tourist season was pretty much over. So I stopped at a wine bar and asked for another recommendation and he directed me to a restaurant where his friend was the cook. It was indeed good. An octopus and potato salad followed by tagliatelle with small shrimp and zucchini – excellent. They also had house made cannoli which was spectacularly good. That plus  a glass of white wine, water and coffee came to just 26 euros.

So now I was ready for Palermo. I followed my notes perfectly and stopped to fill the car with diesel – 69 euros for almost a full tank and asked the name of the street that I was on. To my horror it was not the one that I had noted from Google maps. Ah, another adventure in Palermo and this time in driving rain. One would think that since train travel is so important that there would be signs indicating the direction of the train station at strategic points. But NO, the Sicilians don’t need no stinking street signs In fact it’s really hard to even see the names of the streets and of course almost no place to park to ask directions. Finally when my bladder was about ready to give out I stopped at a  bar to take care of that problem (parking illegally of course) and got directions which involved about 5 turns and identifying piazzas which I had no idea of how to identify. After several similar stops and a tour of the other half of Palermo that I hadn’t yet seen, I was driving along and saw the “Fountain of Shame”. That’s the one with nude men and woman that earned that title from some straight laced Palermo residents maybe a century or two ago. So after about an hour and half of driving  through flooded streets and sudden forced turns when confront from a one way street ahead,  I knew the way. I double parked in front of the rental agency with the emergency flashers and they took it from there. I did get back my 200 euro deposit to my relief. Note to self: Maybe getting the GPS for the car is not a bad idea in Italy.

I stayed in the same hotel with a different room. This one did not have a balcony over the busy street (Vittorio Emmanuale) but instead opened up into a mostly closed area. I loved the silence and found the view interesting. A mish-mash of old and new construction, pipes and wires on the exterior walls. Italians are very creative at making things somehow work.

The next morning I didn’t have a lot to do other than walk around Palermo. I was a little afraid to take the bus because with all of the one way streets, etc., god knows where I would wind up and I would just visualize myself being several kilometers from the hotel without the faintest idea of how to get back. That would be kind of the public transportation version of my car experience. So I put another few kilometers on my shoes. This time the church was open so I got some pictures there. I still know next to nothing about the church since it doesn’t seem to rate a mention in the on-line guides to Palermo. Some of the others must really be something.

In my wandering I came across a street market. I doubt that it was the famous Vucciria market since it didn’t seem big enough but still had some interesting stuff. Everything is super fresh and I noted the tiny calamaretti (little squid)- maybe only an inch or so long. Then I happened upon a tiny place with a specialty of fried stuff and there they were right beside the tiny sepia (cuttlefish). So it was a good time for a snack. At least I took one food picture.




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