A return ticket to Palermo please?
05 May 2014 | Palermo
Our planned trip to Palermo turned out to be very interesting in more ways than one. After leaving our tender in the designated place, we set off on foot to find a bus to take us to Palermo. It took several attempts to do this, as the buses went round the village in a circle, in a one way system and the driver would not let us on anywhere except the correct stop, which we could not work out. Eventually we were allowed to embark the bus after we had run back and forth several times over some communal gardens, only to be informed by the driver that we needed to buy our tickets in a nearby stall before boarding! At last we were seated comfortably and I asked the driver to let us know when we arrived at The Quattro Canti. With this assurance in mind Hayley and I settled down to enjoy the trip and admire the old buildings as we went. Paul was not so relaxed with this idea and kept a close eye on where we were going looking for our arrival at The Quattro Canti (Four Corners). The bus journey seemed to go on forever with people getting off and on along the way. We sat patiently for our stop. It never came. The bus went round yet another bend, we all looked curiously at the familiar view across the harbour....... yes we were back where we started, we had completed a full circle on the bus. We decided to get a taxi.
The Quattro Canti is the busy crossroads that divided the old city of Palermo into four quarters, Algerian, Rome, Arab and Norman. There is much to visit in Palermo; we particularly enjoyed visiting the church of Santa Caterina, with its beautiful Baroque interior and the many plaster angels that decorate the ceilings along with the vibrant coloured wall paintings. The Fontana Pretoria takes up most of the Piazza Pretoria and it is where Garibaldi is alleged to have sat encouraging the community to vote for independence during the battles of 1870. In times past the Fontana Pretoria was known as 'the square of shame' in reference to the 30 naked figures that cavort in the fountain. Hayley and I were amused by the tale that Nuns chopped off the noses of these statues in their disgust, but managed to resist chopping off their 'male' parts that so offended them. The noses were repaired and restored to their owners and the area is now protected by railings. The City Hall, Palazzo delle Aquile was interesting with its facades decorated by large stone eagles. The officials there seemed very keen for us to visit the hall and took us on a guided tour, this was in Italian so much of it we had to guess.
As we were walking up and down we could not ignore the pony and traps that waited on the street corners offering rides around the city. We much prefer sightseeing by foot so politely refused their offers. That is until one attendant spotted Hayley and seemed to instantly fall in love with her! The price for a ride in his carriage went down by the minute in an effort to escort Hayley, so in the end we succumbed and climbed up into the seats. It was a lovely way to see this city stopping to visit the Cathedral but unfortunately the guy became a touch too amorous with Hayley. He stopped the ride at a park to show us some 800 year old tress and after seeing Hayley becoming more and more embarrassed I pointed out to him that he was rather a fast mover. This did not work, he thought I meant the horse! Plan B worked, I swiftly swapped placed with Hayley and took front position. Five minutes later he cut our ride short and we happily continued on foot.
After lunch we made a visit to the Catacombe del Convento dei Cappuccini. Beneath this monastery are catacombs that hold the clothed corpse of 8,000 men, women and children. It was incredible to see so many dead bodies in various stages of decay, so many well preserved by the monks who injected the corpses with different substances. This custom carried on until 1920. Amazing! A must to see if visiting Palermo but I would not recommend it for children
It will not surprise you that we took a taxi back, we were tired and had enough adventures for one day.