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Forty Eight Hours in Palermo – Raw Prawns and Fiat 500’s

After a relaxing break in Taormina we headed back into our trusty hire car with the GPS fully charged and ready to go off on our next big adventure…… Palermo.

After decades of Mafia domination, Sicily’s chief city has been cited as re-emerging as one of Europe’s great capitals. There is however a great contrast in the city itself.  Whilst it is starting to entertain elegant, middle-class shopping quarters within it’s ancient walls, there is still a sense of a city with a long way to go.  In it’s day the city would have played host to some magnificent grandeur buildings, which, although are still there, many are decaying into a memory which you just pray they have the ability to restore,…. or someone with a little entrepreneurial foresight takes a punt on an investment that might come good in years to come….anyone got a couple of spare dollars to lend??

Palermo Cathederal – Source Birdcage Design

But despite it’s developing rough edges you cannot help having a little bit of soft spot for the city which, through its myriad of winding alleyways, full of little bars, shops and bustling outdoor markets, is full of Italian passion and life. For anyone looking for inspiration, whether it be architecture, design, food or culture, this is a city that you may just want to pop your head into for a couple of days – as it has a little mixing pot of everything to whet your inspirational fire….

4.30pm…. Fresh off the Boat

One of the main staples of Sicilian food… if you had not guessed already is fish, and Palermo was one of the first places where I actually tasted raw prawn… they are literally that fresh that you can do so (but one little note these guys are not auditioning for Materchef, so do not be surprised if you do have to remove your own poop shoot!) but I can honestly say it is worth it…. they are to die for.

Palermo Fish Fresh off the Boat – Source Birdcage Design

If you are really wanting to look like a tourist then I can definitely recommend stoping off with your camera to watch the fisherman bring in their afternoon hauls ready for the evening restaurant shifts…

6pm – Negotiate the Traffic and travel with a True Style Icon

Back in the car we are left at the whim of our very cultured GPS to take us around the one way systems of Palermo in rush hour…. you know that point where you see the hotel but you are stuck to follow the winding lanes and what should take you ten seconds takes you an hour. You do start to develop the Italian bravado and very quickly learn that they do not want to dent their car any more than you so ….somehow the chaos of the roads is actually very civilised.  You just push in front and somehow that is OK – because to be frank if you do not they are not going to wait for you!…. in Australia or the UK that would almost certainly result in a two finger salute…. but here…well we survived!

One little style icon that cannot go without mentioning is the fantabulous Fiat 500, they are the car of choice in Italy (and much of Europe come to that).  Whether the vintage 1957 model or the modern remake they are everywhere…. I did have a very romantic dream of travelling around Italy in one…. to which my husband replied… “sure, but where are you going to put your travelling wardrobe and shoes!”….. so yes the estate car won!…. oh well my little Bambini – maybe next time.

8pm Hitting the Town

Well… you are probably beginning to tell much of the trip to Italy was about tasting the food… well it would be very rude not to.  And inspired by the catches we had seen coming off of the boats we decided to take ourselves to a little place that came with high recommendation.  “Trattoria Piccolo Napoli”…. one thing with Palermo is that the best places are hidden in areas that you would never know to look… you may think that somewhere will take you ten minutes to get to , but I would usually triple that estimation….. but once you get there it will not disappoint!  One good sign is that it is filled with locals and given how the Italians are about their food, you know that you are onto a good thing……

Now remember those raw prawns I told you about……. here they are. Just a little bit of lemon juice and salt is all you need!

11pm tired feet and sweet dreams……

Day one at a close, tummy nicely full, and “cankles” coming into fruition, it was time to head back to the hotel……

One tip before I go ……for those who take the road to Palermo…..get yourself a good map – GPS on our phone became our friend (although not looking forward to the phone bill).  It is so easy to become absorbed into the little streets that you quickly loose where you are hence the “cankles!!!”

On with the colourful journey………………

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