Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Palermo

Palermo street at night.

Now, today, for something completely different. Just to spice things up and post something entirely out of time sequence, today on Ate Up Amateur, a post about our trip to Sicily over a year ago.


A courtyard we encountered at night.
It reminds me of the "Feed the Birds" scene in Mary Poppins...

I've mentioned this trip here and there before, (and here too) and I've said I want to share the photos, so why not start today? Here we go. S and I went with 31 other members of his extended family to Sicily in March of 2008 to visit the towns where his relatives once lived. The first city on the journey was Palermo. No relatives lived here originally, although one family moved here after living in one of the other cities, and then eventually immigrated to the US.


There was amazing detail of Jewish, Arabic, African and European origin all over Sicily.

Sicily is an island of varied and storied history. Basically, almost every major civilization has trampled across this island one time or another. It was a major trade route for much of its history between Africa and Europe. It has been occupied by Arabic, Jewish, European (not just Italian) and African nations. And it's architecture represents this melting pot of culture.



Palermo is the largest city on the island of Sicily. And, it is pretty much what you would expect of a large European city - there are cultural buildings and items of interest, but it is not the hub of tourism - it is a hub of commerce. The streets are narrow, being driven by mopeds, motorcycles and small cars. It is not especially clean. We flew in and out of Palermo, staying one night each way and did not spend much there. Interestingly, our trip through "customs" to enter the country was an additional scan of our bags on our way out the airport door - no one looked at our paperwork at all. And even the luggage scan was nothing like your luggage would endure for a domestic US flight.


The post-modern post office.


A fish market.


One side of the four fountains in the oldest intersection of the city.
The old city center.

It is well known that Palermo is a stronghold of the mafia. Far and wide it is known every business in the city pays 15% of its profits to the mafia. In the mid-90's (and, as much as they can, continuing through to today) there was a large and successful crackdown of the mafia by the government. Two judges led the charge, and both were in time assassinated. The airport is named in their honor - Falcone e Borsellini International Airport.


Detail from that fountain.

The first night we were there, we decided to walk on our own down to the old city center to take some photos. We took the same walk the next morning with S's cousin Lynn and her two boys. The nighttime shots begin the post, and the daytime shots make up the rest. Besides the constant smell of moped fumes, the walk was lovely both times. The moped fumes, though - they are thick and fierce and should not be underestimated.


Another beautiful fountain detail.

A street lamp detail.

We had one amazing meal in this city the night we arrived. We even happened into a restaurant where they spoke a little English, which was nice on the first night there. And, the really funny thing was the music being played was Frank Sinatra. Over and over and over, all Frank, all the time. On the way back through the city at the end of the trip, it was Sunday and the city was shut down except for a large central park where it seemed every inhabitant had gathered to play soccer, visit and enjoy the spring weather. We had lots of food left over that we'd been collecting the whole trip and had an early morning the next morning, so we had "leftovers" in the room and called it an early night.


Palermo Opera House

This building, the Palermo Opera House, well known in Europe since its renovation in 1989, was a strikingly beautiful sight in this part of the city and was near where we stayed. And, near the good restaurant, too. Unfortunately, it was not open on both nights we were in town. S's cousin Kelly did go to a theater down the other way that was presenting Shakespeare's Othello - the cast was "all star" according to the Italians. However, the lead role was performed (of course, in Italian) by a Caucasian in black face, which is an ancient practice, and he decidedly said was very strange and weird to see.

Some of the other cities on the trip were more memorable. And, I'll share them with you here sooner or later, of course. So, there you go. A Wednesday side trip to a Palermo memory. See you tomorrow.

3 comments:

  1. This is great! I can't wait to see more pictures from your trip!

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  2. I am so happy you had the opportunity to take this special trip with family. What wonderful once in a lifetime memories you will always have from the trip. Thanks for sharing with us.

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  3. great photos!

    Carolyn

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