FIRST SIGHTS OF SICILY – PALERMO

Palermo was a sensory overload.

For our first taste of Sicilian life, we were thrown into the thick of it as we disembarked the airport shuttle right in the heart of the city.
There is no denying Italy is a country that has held on tightly to it’s traditions and culture. As we made our way through the busy streets, dodging vespa scooters, holding onto each other for dear life when crossing busy intersections (do pedestrian lights not exist here?!) and trying to ignore the rumblings in our bellies from the delicious scents of freshly baked pastries. I was mesmerised trying to take everything in. Sweat dripping down my cheek from the 35 degree heat and the 10kg backpack on my back, but there was no time for taking pictures or stopping to peer into bakeries to admire biscotti.

 

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Italy is wonderfully loud. There is no calmness here. From the beeping of horns to the passionate yelling of families. We only walked for ten minutes to reach our guest house but we both felt like we might as well have trekked across the sahara desert… We were exhausted. And of course nothing seems to go too smoothly when we try and check into our accommodation. We were left waiting outside and knocking trying to get let in. Our iPhones have saved us on more occasions than I can count, I’m not sure what phone-less travellers do in these situations… because we called our host who told us they would arrive in 5 minutes. We weren’t sure if Italian time was anything like Spanish time, where 5 minutes means an hour or two… but luckily it’s closer to real time.

We were shown the apartment by a warm, chattering Italian lady and we smiled, nodded and giggled to one another as we watched her mime putting the key in the lock, turning on the light and showing us the kitchen and our room. It was simple but comfortable and we both almost cried from happiness at the sight of the dripping air conditioner.

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No rest for the wicked unfortunately. We knew that for our five weeks in Italy we needed to buy an Italian sim card. Three out of four of the accommodation we had booked didn’t have internet, we were mostly taking it one week at a time so we would need to google our next move, and English isn’t that common in Sicily, so having the ability to text/call our hosts, translate and have maps at our finger tips was essential. We’d found a great deal with TIM carrier for the Milan expo which offered 100 free international minutes, 4gb of data and 5euro credit for texts all for 30 euro. The only downside was google was telling us the only TIM store was 5.5km walk from our apartment….

There isn’t any better way to get a feel for a city in one night than by walking 11km. We passed through working class neighbourhoods which reminded us of the streets of Istanbul, kids playing in rubble, loud conversations wafting from open windows. We walked through busy shopping streets with expensive stores, we saw beautiful antique shops, small deli’s selling sliced meats, we marvelled at ancient buildings and towering churches. We reached TIM just as I thought my feet couldn’t take another step… and after some confusion as I don’t think anyone has actually bought this specific sim card before, we were off again with my new Italian number working almost instantly. We were online! We felt invincible.

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By now the streets were dusk-lit, the traffic jams intensified and the city had come to life. We trekked through alleyways, and market streets closing up. I saw a woman lowering her basket from her third story window so she could buy a loaf of fresh bread from a boy on the street. I saw stray dogs being fed by happy store owners. We saw into doorways where old Italian men sat engulfed in a cloud of smoke while they played cards around a table. We stopped at small middle-eastern deli’s to buy dinner ingredients – a packet of couscous, a can of beans and diced tomato and fresh vegetables. Dinner for 3 euro. I missed most of the moments with my camera because I was too busy soaking it all in with my eyes.

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Theres no better way sometimes than to let the pictures do the talking. So here is the story in images, our first taste of life in Sicily.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Reply

    Tamsin @ A Certain Adventure

    18/01/2016

    Palermo is definitely unlike anywhere else I’ve been in Italy (or Sicily for that matter!) Such wonderful architecture and I loved the produce in the markets – such incredible burrata, fresh tomatoes and long tromboncino courgettes, there for the taking. I’d love to go back! x

  2. Reply

    Natalie

    08/01/2016

    I don’t think road rules exist in italy either !

    I love the atmpy you have captured, its so raw and candid.

    Nat | Dignifiable

    • Reply

      Natalie

      08/01/2016

      Atmpy or atmosphere ! Not sure why that is in my phones dictionary!

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