Posted by: Gary Guertin | November 27, 2011

16. Atlantic/N. Africa/W. Med. Cruise – Port #14 Palermo, Italy

Hi All,

Ah, Sicily, home of the Mafia.  We didn’t run into any, and the people were friendly (not that the Mafia aren’t friendly, everyone knows I don’t mean that, OK!!!) and we had a wonderful day in Palermo.

Sicily, today is a part of Italy, but it feels like a different country.  The island (even though it’s only ten miles from the Italian coast) has been occupied by at least seven civilizations and is a mixture of them all.  First were the Phoenicians, then the Greeks in the 8th century BC, then the Romans, Arabs, Normans, French, and Spanish in that order.  The revolutionary movement of 1848 led to the expulsion of the Spanish Bourbon rulers in 1860.  Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and Palermo is it’s major city with 700,000 inhabitants.  Todays Palermo is a mixture of all those civilizations as you will see, with crumbling, centuries old neighborhoods and modern commercial and residential areas.

Let’s take a look at this beautiful deep water harbor that attracted the original Phoenician traders:

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Off the ship’s port side an interesting mountain:

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And a view of the city in front of us:

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Today Susy and I felt good, hadn’t booked a tour, so we decided to start off walking and see what we could find.  We encountered this port sign as we walked through the cruise terminal:

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We plunged into the old city right away and here are a few of the sites as we walked along:

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A church:

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an old but small opera theater:

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and many narrow streets:

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We came upon one of the cities fresh food markets:

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Look at this stand:

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and finally the end of the market:

 

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We had no sooner left the fresh food market then we discovered an open boulevard with “stuff” for sale on the sidewalks (an open air flee market):

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Susy was right at home:

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On our way back to the ship we came upon the “Teatro Massimo”, Palermo’s famous opera house.  I can only show you the front and the back of the opera house, but we got to take a tour of the inside (no photos) and can only say it was magnificent.  Our guide said it was the third largest opera house in Europe, having over 7,000 sq. meters.  The stage was the second largest, having over a 1,000 sq. meters.  When we get home we’ll have to look up more about this theater on the internet because it was hard to remember all the guide told us.  I do remember that if the royal box wasn’t booked by dignitaries you could get it with a group of 20 at a special price of 150 euros (about $225.00) a seat, the same price as a seat on the main floor.  What a bargain!!  Here’s the front and back:

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By the way, if you notice those banners hanging on the fence in front of the opera house, they were put there by the “Occupy” protesters.  This was about the third time we had run into them, so they are truly international, and just like the U.S. are all youngsters (we would say hippies).

After we left the opera house we again started down the narrow streets to the port:

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The fellow behind Susy is one of the singers from the ship.  We met him and a few of the other ship entertainers at a sidewalk café.  They talked us into trying the spaghetti and a glass of Sicilian wine, which we both agreed was some of the best we have had.  Just two more photos of this wonderful city:

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What a day we had and what a lovely city.  Next Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy.

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)


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