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"Today we go to Palermo!”

Tuesday - April 25

Today we would leave our villa by the sea. It had been a great three days of relaxation and friendship. Once again, right on the second, Antonio pulled up at 9:30 in his black shiny van with a smile on his face. “Good Morning – Buongiorno”, he greeted us with his smile, “Today we go to Palermo!”

It was not a long ride from Isola delle Femmine to Palermo. For the most part, we sat quietly looking out the window. Today is a holiday in Italy. It is Liberation Day! April 25 commemorates the end of the Italian Social Republic and the control the German Nazi government. The streets of Palermo were not crowded at this hour and traffic moved freely. As we penetrated deeper into the city, a roadblock of police cars could be seen. Marchers waving flags could be seen in the streets ahead. A quick diversion, by Antonio, and we arrived at our destination, Hotel Tonic. The hotel is in an excellent location: very near bars, restaurants, and old town Palermo.

Antonio unloaded our luggage and we said our goodbyes. He had treated us well and promptness was something to be noted. We would not hesitate to use him again if and when we return to Sicily. You can find his business card at the bottom of the blog.

Check-in was not until 2 o’clock, which was three hours away. We headed out into the city to explore our surroundings. Meandering down a major pedestrian street, there were small markets and vendors that caught our attention.

Approaching the Teatro Massimo, we could see a crowd gathering and musicians setting up on the steps. Long ago in our travels to Greece, we learned always “follow the music for a good time!” Unfortunately, Teatro Massimo, the largest opera house in Italy was under renovation and would not be open to tour.

However, we found a small café across the street and began our day the right way in Palermo with music, cappuccino, and a pistachio cannolo. (cannolo is singular for cannoli)

When the music started, a parade of locals marched into the square waving banners and flags. Most of the crowd was singing along with the choir. The flags seemed to wave with the beat of the music. The steps were full of people and patriotic music.

It seemed like all of Italy’s political parties were represented. And boy, do they have a few: Forza Italia, Northern League, National Alliance, Democratic Party of the Left, Italian People's Party, Christian Democratic Center, Socialist, La Rete, Communist Renewal, Social Democratic, Republican, Liberal, Greens, Italian Renewal.

As the rally ended and we still had a couple of hours until our rooms were ready, we decided to do the hop on – hop off bus tour around the city. We had no real intention to get off once we got on until we completed the entire loop. So off we went to do a reconnaissance mission on the top of double decker bus.

From the second deck, the city of Palermo was clearly visible. The lyrics of Bette Midler’s version of the song, Twisted kept ringing in Tom’s head as the bus chugged around the narrow streets.

So I just let them laugh at me
When I refused to ride on all those double-decker buses
All because there was no driver on the top!

Completing the loop, we received a message that our rooms were ready. The bus tour had only wet our appetite of what was to come tomorrow when we were scheduled for a walking tour of the city. The 2:00 lunch hour had arrived and hunger was setting in. We threw the suitcases in our assigned rooms and headed off to find a restaurant. Finding a place to eat is not a hard task in Palermo. 

We chose a place that was less than a block away on a shady pedestrian street. Fava Beans and Eggplant for Janet, while Tom had his first pizza since arriving. Ham, Basil, Mozzarella, and something that he had not experienced to date – wurstel! What we in the states would call, Hot Dogs. It was some kind of good!

After walking off lunch we gathered for the first time as an entire group in the hotel’s meeting room. Danilo gave us a rundown on what to expect and the overview of our daily activities. Everyone had arrived in Palermo safely, but some had horror stories of delays and lost luggage.

With the formalities finished, it was time for the fun to begin! Danilo took us to a bar around the corner that had a wine and cocktail list to die for. The weather was perfect to sit outside and enjoy our first drink as the Orofino Posse!

Rarely will we pass up an opportunity to pass up a good wine, but Vesper Martini and Negroni were calling our names!

We had a very early dinner at 7:30 at a restaurant not far from the hotel named Mirto Rosa (Blueberry and the Rose). Danilo explained what we were eating, and the wines were from a winery that we would visit in a few days as part of our trip. The food and wine were very good, and the panna cotta was amazing.

After dinner some of our group went back to the hotel and some joined Danilo and his cousin for a passeggiata (an evening stroll) to walk off our dinner. The evening weather was spectacular as we took in the sights of Palermo under the stars.

We came to stop in front of the illuminated Teatro Politeama Garibaldi and then reversed directions back to the hotel.

Day one of the trip had come to a close and oh what a day it has been.

Come I giovani innamorati baciano la buonanottte – diciamo Caio

If you need a driver - Antonio comes highly recommended

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous entry, Tom!! You captured our day perfectly!!