Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Home Sweet Palermo

I am sure I have said this before but genetically, I am 50% Sicilian. My mother's parents are Sicilian and I love that I have that Italian background, even though by looking at me, you wouldn't believe it! (Actually, Forrest looks a lot more like my Italian family than I do!) When we found out this cruise stopped in Sicily I was thrilled, for obvious reasons! We chose to do our own tour of Palermo, the port city, and I spent hours researching the sites and making the best route possible. Unfortunately, since we didn't have a guide, we weren't 100% sure if we were looking at what we thought we were looking at, so if I have any mistakes below, please let me know!!
After a big sit down breakfast on board, our first stop was the Kalsa district, or old town. It was totally cool! The buildings were made of stone and the streets were cobble stones and it was just so quaint and charming! We saw the Castle By the Sea and several churches, as well as the Piazza Abetellis.
This has something to do with the mafia!

Castle by the Sea, I think

Adorable Kalsa district

Cool tree in the Piazza Marina

Piazza Abetallis. Very cool museum!

Spanismo church, right near the Arab gate. Lots of cultures, all run together!

Then we found the tiny cataldo church which was a muslim mosque before it was converted into a Christian church. Sicily was ruled by several different countries and empires over the years so the cultural influences are endless!


After checking out the Cataldo we passed the Pretoria fountain and found the Quattro Conti, or 4 corners. This was one of my favorite stops! The 4 corners are decorated so ornately!!
Piazza Pretoria and fountain

One of the Conti

Then we passed St. Josephs on the way to Casa Professa, were I was excited to find a wedding! We even got to see the bride and groom leave the church!

St. Joseph's

Casa Profesa

Bride and groom!

Next it was on to the Batillo street market. It was kind of like trade day in that it sold lots of cheap stuff but they also sold fruits and veggies. I was less than excited to see the meat and fish just lying around though! Ick!

Then we passed St. Nicholas on our way to the Norman Palace. This place is ridiculous old and huge!!
I think this is St. Nicholas

Norman Palace

We then walked through the Porta Nuova before having pizza and gelatto!
The Porta is a huge arch that goes across the road that you can walk through and even drive though!!

The gelatto shop was precious and we each got 4 flavors for 2 euro! Nice!! We then walked past the Cuba Castle to the Capuchin Catacombs.
La Cuba used to be Turkish barracks! See how many groups rules Sicily??

We were not allowed to take pics but if you are even in Palermo, this place is a MUST. It is totally weird and creepy but I loved it! It is where years and years ago they used to bury monks and other people of the city. They are just nailed up to the wall or on shelves! That's right---we were walking around underground with a bunch of skeletons dressed in their burial clothes. I think I thought it was so cool because it is just so unreal!!
I found this pic online! Isn't in unreal? Those are real bodies on the walls! Craziness!

Afterwards we walked to the Basilica---omg was it fantastic! We didn't have much time to explore it but we did get to go inside. This church was the most impressive one we saw in Palermo by far!!

Our last stop was the Teatro Massimo. It was also beautiful but it's appeal is that it is the site of one of the scenes of the Godfather part 3! Neat!!!

After all of the walking I was totally exhausted and it was time to head back to the ship!! We made it to Mass and then had a LOVELY 4 course meal in the main dining room. I will do a post of the ship overall later but I have to say that the food was totally to die for on this trip!! We walked around on the top deck for a while, admiring the view of my "home" country. It really was special that I got to be in the same place where my great great parents came from, even though they weren't from Palermo specifically. Next time I would love to visit some of the tiny towns, because Palermo was a pretty big city and had that city feel.
We finished up the night in the ship's screening room, watching The Artist! It was really a cute movie, although it made me miss Sonny and Ruffles! :) Stay tuned for Tunisia!!

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