Adventures in Palermo

Ciao tutti,

I apologize for the delay in this post. After coming back from Palermo, I’ve barely had time to breath! My host mother’s friend, who I met during my first week in Sicily, had her baby on Tuesday! We were returning from Palermo, so we had to drive back to Catania later in the week to meet the baby! Her name is Chiara, and she is beautiful. It’s also a busy time for Elena with her villa’s, so I’ve been helping her when I can. We have just not stopped moving! I’ve been so exhausted every night when I go to bed that I can’t possibly keep my eyes open to write anything. I know that my family has been waiting for another post, but I need to take care of myself first. I need sleep and to relax.

We traveled to Palermo on Monday by car. The drive from Ragusa to Palermo is about four hours, and the drive is beautiful. It was CRAZY HOT everywhere in Sicily. It was absolutely insane. It was about 115 degrees in some areas. We had the air conditioning on (lightly) in the car, and we were still dying. My favorite thing is that my family has started using the term “I’m dying” because I use it so much. For example, when I continuously stuff myself with too much food, I say “I’M DYING!!!”. I use this exaggeration often (probably too much), but they think it’s hilarious. When it was too hot in the car, Sofia started screaming this in Italian… it was too much. The drive there was fun! I’ll always remember the jams that my family and I had in the car. Sofia’s favorite song is “Occidentali’s Karma”, so I took control of the aux cord and we all jammed. It was so great!

When we arrived in Palermo, Francesco needed to take care of some business with a property that he inherited, so we stopped at the apartment for a bit. Then, we met with my family’s friends that live in Palermo. They took us all around the city to see everything! We began by stopping at our hotel, and my family surprised me by getting me my own room! I didn’t expect to have my own space. It was wonderful. If you ever come to Palermo, I recommend Hotel Stitano. It was clean, elegant, and most importantly…. air conditioned. They also had a wonderful breakfast!

The first place we stopped was a park that has one of the largest Seguoia’s (I think this was the type of tree) in Europe! It was a beautiful place. Then, the wife of the friends, Elena, Sofia, and I, took a bus to center city. This was the most MISERABLE bus ride of our lives. The heat on this day was unbearable, everybody smelled, and the driving was atrocious. It was mostly terrible because of the smell and heat. It was too much, even for the Sicilians.

The center city was great because many of the streets are blocked off from cars, so you don’t have to dodge cars for your life. We stopped at the town hall, and I got a picture in the mayor’s seat. I must say, it just felt right to be in the seat of power. Maybe I’m meant for this job? We’ll see. Then, we stopped at a stunning fountain outside of the building and went to one of the main squares of Palermo. There is a street with a roundabout, and it has statues of saints in each “corner” to represent the four seasons. The main square has so much shopping! We stopped to eat arancina, and I tried panella and croquette (typical fried Palermo food). Two funny stories….

Did you know that arancini have gender, and different areas of Sicilia feel different about the gender? In Ragusa and nearby, it’s arancino or arancine. In Palermo (only Palermo), it’s feminine. I don’t care what the gender is, I freaking love arancini and it’s a problem. Any fried food kills my stomach but arancini here is ADDICTIVE. Another story… the name of the place where we ate arancini was “MaquePalle”. This translates to “What Balls!!!”. It’s an expression that people use when someone else is being rude or annoying, or if something is going wrong. It was hilarious to both me and the Sicilian’s that this restaurant was named this.

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Then, we walked around other parts of the city. We stopped outside of Teatro Massimo, which is one of the most important theaters in the world. We looked at the shops, and then stopped for dinner. This is when things went south for me…. Raw seafood is something that people order often here to show their prominence in society. The friends of my family ordered this, but the wife and I didn’t like it. Francesco and the husband kept insisting that I try something, so I did. I hated it. Then, the husband ordered cuttlefish pasta, which is black from the ink of the fish. I was so disturbed by the color, but everybody wanted me to try it. I also hated this. The flavor wasn’t terrible, but I was put off by the fact that my entire mouth turned black. It made me want to be sick. However, I ordered a delicious salmon dish for dinner so I was happy!

After dinner, the friends drove us back to the hotel. Near our hotel, there was a typical Sicilian concert happening in the street, so we stopped to see it! They were wearing typical outfits and doing traditional dances of Sicily. It was fun to see! We went to bed around 1 a.m., and I don’t think I have ever slept better. The heat took every ounce of energy out of me.

The next day, we ate breakfast at the hotel, and then Elena, Sofia and I met the wife of the friends. Francesco had to do more with his property, so the four of us explored while he did what he needed to. We stopped at a small castle, Castello Magrodolce. Most people from Palermo don’t even know that it exists! It’s a small castle that used to house people during the different empires. I saw fossils from the Byzantine, Greek, and Roman empires. It was so interesting to see, but I was exhausted after because the man that gave us the tour did not speak any English. It’s fine because I understand everything, but it makes my brain tired because I have to focus so much.

After this, we stopped at the local mall. It was huge! It’s sales season here, so Elena loves to go shopping. We walked around, and stopped at the supermarket in the mall to buy lunch. Then, it was time for us to leave. We said goodbye to the friends, and they asked me to come back and stay with them in Palermo! Who knows… maybe I will someday.

Please also check back for my post about my thoughts on Palermo. I have many mixed opinions about Palermo, and how it affects tourism in Sicily. I think it’s something extremely important to write about, so I’ll be doing this soon.

Abby

 

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