We didn’t spend much time in Palermo, yet our last night in Sicily spent there was the first time I saw this city. The actual Palermo airport is about 30 minutes away. Driving into the city at rush hour was interesting to say the least. I would say that driving there was crazy, scary, and I would insert some swear words here to underline these facts, but I promised myself to keep this blog civil.
Lanes don’t exist; where there’s room for one car, four try to squeeze in; just because you have the right of way doesn’t mean anything; the guy next to you, rubbing his side mirror against yours, will merge into you as if you’re not even there expecting to simply get in. It’s like a bad game of chicken, one that I lost constantly in my rented car with only partial insurance.
After checking into hotel Mercury and giving our cars away to valet who would then park them sardines-tight in an underground garage, we hit the streets of Palermo to see the city for the few hours we had that evening. Walking through was as interesting as driving. I still felt rushed with all the honking going on, but now I didn’t have the safety of being inside a car and had to watch out twice as much. The town has a very beat up look to it, and is in obvious disrepair and need of some TLC (tender loving care).
The time of day was not if our favor and it was pretty dark by the time we got to Quattro Canti, an intersection laid out in 1608 dividing Palermo into four sections. Buildings on that intersection bare fountains and statues of the four seasons, the four Spanish kings of Sicily, and of the patronesses of Palermo (Cristina, Ninfa, Olivia, and Agata). This according to Wikipedia info I have found. From there we walked over to the Piazza Pretoria, planned in the 16th century. Perhaps age alone could stand for why it all looked in desperate need of attention. Beautiful as it was, it also looked like it literally hasn’t been touched in 400 years.
Trying to but failing to follow a map we kept moving toward the coast where things got a little quieter and streets a little darker still. I didn’t like that at all and kept a fast walking pace for which the rest of the group teased me about. We looked touristy, with maps and DSLR’s in our hands, and I did not feel the need to stop in dark spots of shady looking neighborhoods. But it came in sections at a time; we’d be walking through some shopping areas and then all of the sudden it would drop off into a dark street, followed by lights and some more shops right behind it. I admit I was tense, and held my camera in a DSLR-to-your-face kind of a way, but one can never be too careful. I believe a D90 with a 105mm lens could do some serious damage if face planted just right.
We found a restaurant where once again I was the only one not ordering pizza. I got muscles for an appetizer and swordfish as the main course, all so close to the sea I could taste the salt in the air. It was truly delicious, with Sicilian wine and ricotta cream cannolo for desert. I did after all fly back to ice cold Wrocław the next day, or so I thought, where fresh sea food isn’t exactly the specialty of the region. I think I need to move somewhere closer to the coast, for seafood alone. It was back to our hotel soon afterward where a 4:30am wake up call was awaiting to begin my long journey home.