Saturday, August 12, 2017

Trip to Palermo, Sicily (July 2017)

Palermo is the largest city and the capital city of Sicily. With a population of almost 700,000 in 2014, the city is famous for many landmarks. The 12th century Palermo Cathedral houses royal tombs, while the huge neoclassical Teatro Massimo is known for opera performances. Also in the center are the Palazzo del Normanni, a royal palace that started in the 9th century, and the Cappella Palatina with Byzantine mosaics. Busy markets include the central CAPO street market and the Vucciria market, near the port.

We walked around the CAPO street market, but it was quite small and we settled for buying some stuff. We found usual stuff, like veggies, fruits, big tuna as well as some unusual stuffs, such as fried shrimps called Gamberi, fried sardines, sun dried tomatoes and chili olives.

But I spotted a couple of very young entrepreneurs who were selling granita on a cart. I am sure of their bright future as entrepreneurs.

Palermo Cathedral was huge. Its interior was well decorated with paintings and statues.

In the front yard, there was a black color sculpture that looked like both man and woman. I suppose it is the artist's freedom to create an art that is up the viewer's imagination.

At the entrance to the Cathedral, one of the columns had an inscription of an Islamic art. The Cathedral was built on a mosque site and this Islamic art has been preserved. Quite interesting.

I visited Catacombe Crypts or Cappuccine where a countless number of mummies are still preserved to date. One amazing mummy was of a little girl who died in 1920 and she still looks like she died a few days ago. It is a bit creepy and is not for the fainted hearts, but it helps realize that each life has its final moment. Human flesh returns to the earth. Only the believers are promised to rise again with a glorified body that surpasses the limitations of physical body and time and space. What a promise! I look forward to it.

Porta Nuova is a monumental city gate of Palermo. It represents the entrance of the Cassaro from Corso Calatafimi and located beside Palazzo dei Normani, royal palace of Palermo.

Palazzo dei Normani, the royal palace of Palermo is located right next to Porta Nuova.

Piazza Indipendenza is at the center of the city, symbolizing the city's liberation.

There were other places we explored briefly, such as Quattro Canto, Fountain of Shame (Fontana Pretoria), San Giovanni degli Eremiti Church, and Teatro Massimo where Godfather III was filmed.

We tried arancini at a famous place. The store had many flavors with different ingredients in them. Wow!!!

For the Southern Italy and Sicily Tour, the leader was Shabby, a bubbly young lady from England. She looked more Italian than some Italians whom I know. It was fun because of her outgoing personality.

I also met some friends and definitely this young boy from the Philippines, Koda, was one of them. I am not sure if I will ever see him again, but it was fun to joke around with him.

Our tour ended with an overnight ferry ride from Palermo to Naples on this ferry boat. The lodging was okay, but it was inconvenient not to have internet on board.

A lot of new experiences made this trip rich and memorable. I am grateful. - Jeffrey

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