Sicily: Palermo and Cefalù
We decided that we ought to stay in one place for a while and opted for Palermo Sicily. It's the largest city in Sicily on the northern coast and just seemed like an interesting place to spend some time, especially with its diverse history and influences from the Greeks, Normans, Romans,and Arabs.
We flew to Palermo direct from London Heathrow on British Airways, into Falcone–Borsellino Airport, about 35km from the city.
The airport is named Falcone–Borsellino in memory of the two leading anti-mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino who were both murdered by the mafia in 1992. A plaque featuring their portraits is at the airport with inscription Giovanni Falcone–Paolo Borsellino–Gli Altri–L'orgoglio della Nuova Sicilia (Giovanni Falcone–Paolo Borsellino–The Others–The Pride of the New Sicily).
We spent a lot of time exploring the older parts of Palermo city and trying to understand more about its history, while drinking too much alcohol, and eating far too much food. We also took a tour of the Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele...the Opera House which surprisingly is the 3rd biggest in Europe after the Opera National in Paris, and the K. K. Hof-Operahaus in Vienna. Very nice building, ornately furnished with amazing marble flooring and wood paneling. The steps at the front of the Teatro Massimo Opera House were the actual setting of the final scene in The Godfather movies...and each day crazy American tourists re-enact the scene on the steps complete with shouting and fake machine gun noise.
We also took a Trenitalia train for about 60km east along the north coast of Sicily to the beach resort city of Cefalù (pronounced Chefaloo).
Italians seem to like chaos, and Palermo is certainly chaotic yet at the same time is full of everything that makes Italy such a great place to travel, explore and holiday.
Palermo is filthy dirty in places, crumbling buildings, designer stores, collapsing balconies, car parking anywhere with space, pedestrian crossings only for the brave and non-hesitant, red traffic lights are only an advisory to stop, beautiful buildings, smiling happy people, extraordinarily good food, rip-off taxi drivers and illegal tour guides, shoes guaranteed to be made in Italy..but turn them over and it says ‘Made in PRC”, churches and theatres by the dozen, free Opera in the street on a Saturday night, street vendors trying to sell you anything from USB Cables to dodgy power supplies to Roses and ballpoint pens while you are dining, immaculate & stylishly dressed men women and children, a 4 star hotel that runs out of cups, knives and teaspoons at breakfast, some of the best fruit vegetable and meat markets anywhere in the world, granita and gelato, 5 different "police" forces, sculptures and statues everywhere, battered and wrecked cars, scooters hurtling thru narrow alley ways - many of them electric and silent that scare the hell out of you, families chatting and playing cards in narrow alleys, pizza delivered to the 4th floor by rope and basket, washing hanging from balconies, excellent coffee and horrid coffee, homeless folks with multiple dogs, new Fiats, ancient Fiats,tasty Spleen Sandwiches, treading in dog shit, very dodgy electrical wiring...the list goes on and on.
So here are some images of Palermo:
The Police...but I missed a pic of the Carabinieri
La Vucciria, Capo, and Ballaro markets:
Old cars and mobile wrecks:
Parking Sicilian Style:
Delivery bucket at the ready and family fun in the alleyways:
Teatro Massimo (Opera House), Palermo Cathedral, Piazza Vigliena and Chiesa di S. Domenico e Chiostro
Counterfeit Armani, Italian Style, and beware of scooters:
Looking a bit decrepit:
Street life and the laundry line:
This is why everyone likes Italian food:
Beware..very dodgy tourist traps
Why did my balcony fall off?:
Especially for tourists:
And now to Cefalu:
Cefalù is a picturesque historic town on a rocky headland with a nice sandy beach .With Sicilian food and sunshine, it makes Cefalù one of Italy's most popular beachside towns.
Cefalù has a large Norman Cathedral (Duomo) built in 1131. Above the Duomo and the town centre is the massive crag called the Rocca. It's possible to take the steep climb to the top of the hill ..but it was 32 degrees so we gave it a miss. Near the top are some ancient Greek ruins called 'Tempio di Diana' (temple of Diana) The town has many beautiful buildings as well as reminders of Sicily's varied influences, not just Norman and Byzantine, but also Arab, Spanish and finally Italian. Nowadays tourism is the big industry here and the beach and town centre were very busy even in mid September.
We lunched at an excellent restaurant overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea...a beautiful spot and very reasonably priced given its location.
Nice town...we could have stayed here for a week as well!
Sicilian wine, Seafood rissotto and the Tyrrhenian sea..magic!
Especially for tourists:
The Rocco, Norman Cathedral (Duomo) and view from the beach:
Best overheard conversation in Sicily:
"we are from NYC; we know what real pizza is"