Each semester I plan an optional trip somewhere in Italy for any student that wants to participate. Last year we went to Cinque Terre and Sorrento. So the question was: where to this year???
I have long been fascinated with the island at the bottom of Italy's boot. I admit that much of what I knew about Sicily was from The Godfather trilogy and other mafia-related stories. Since moving to Italy I had heard that it was a beautiful island with much to offer, but I didn't think it would be a realistic weekend getaway because the train to Palermo took 11 hours!! That's longer than my flight back to the US! No thanks. Still, I wanted to see if we could get there some other way....ferry, plane, swimming...well, the ferry was out because it took as long as the train, swimming was out because.....well, I don't think that needs a reason as to why...so flying it was. I was quite surprised to find fares on a budget airline as low as €17 each way. Wow! What a steal.
So, the second weekend in November found myself, Lynda, and 7 students bound for Palermo. We arrived on the island late morning and I was immediately in awe at it's beauty. The ocean was a vivid cerulean blue against the rugged stone and scarce vegetation of land. Inland, rough mountains rose from the ground towards the sky. It was so beautiful!!!
We took the shuttle into the city from the airport and from there we walked to our hotel. I was impressed by the city as you could easily spot the different cultural influences in its architecture--Italian, Arabic, and Norman.
We stayed near the opera house that's featured at the end of The Godfather 3. Our hotel was nice and run by really lovely people. After checking in, we ventured back out in search of food. And this is where I was caught off guard. Having lived in Rome for the last year and a half, I am used to finding a restaurant/trattoria/osteria/tabacchi on nearly every corner. Not so much in Palermo. We had a hard time finding decent places to eat nearly all weekend. We did not, however, have a hard time finding delicious cannoli......YUUUUMMMMM. So good!
Anways, I digress...after finding something for lunch we proceeded to exploring the city. Lynda and I stuck together for the weekend and were occasionally joined by 4 students. We spent the weekend checking out the cathedral, old castles, other churches, and sitting by the ocean.
Overall, it was a great weekend and it offered a taste of Sicilia. I would love to have more time