07 August 2021 | Sicily, Palermo, Nautica Galizzi (position: 38 07.372'N 13 22.218'E)
the Quattro Cannti crossroads with a Piaggio 'ape' (Italian for 'bee') three wheeled vehicle
Palermo, the Sicilian capital - fast, brash, loud and a really fascinating place to surround ourselves in a city that has been influenced by the past for its present day look - a fusion of architecture, culture and lifestyle all thanks to the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, French and Spanish. We are so pleased to have visited despite the very early start from Termini Imerese to spend what ended up as one and a half days enjoying the sights.
Originally we were going to catch the train from Termini Imerese to visit Palermo for the day but after some research we concluded it would not be sensible or enjoyable to see everything that we wanted in a day especially with the increase in temperature. We're at the start of a heatwave which is expected to get extreme within the next week.
We looked for anchorages near Palermo but they were out from the city centre. Having contacted three marinas which are actually privately owned pontoons run by a sailing club or individuals, one came up trumps. Nautica Galizzi
but before they confirmed the booking we had to prove our vaccine status to our surprise. Cutting a long story short, we've had one or two challenges trying to obtain our EU Covid Pass or Green Card ready for the implementation date of 6 August. It's a new EU requirement in the quest of keeping business open and people safe. We ended up having to ask our doctor to provide it - as though he hasn't got enough work on! Anyway, we were able to provide the paperwork to the office and the booking was confirmed.
It's the norm for marinas to expect arrivals from mid/late afternoon but this marina allowed us to arrive after 11am. This was great news as we'd gained a few additional hours to spend more time immersed in city life and exploring. Needless to say, an early departure was necessary in order to time our arrival in Palermo for 11am.
The Quattro Cannti and the centre of the medieval town was our first stop where a set of baroque crossroads divide central Palermo into quadrants. In each corner a symmetrical fountain with tiers of statues - a King and a patron of the city. From here we could catch a ride on a horse and carriage or on a Piaggio 'ape' - a loveable bee like buzzing three wheeled vehicle used by farmers in Sicily but in Palermo the ride has been pimped somewhat to take tourists around the narrow medieval streets. E-scooters were also available to hire which proved extremely popular and provided a quicker way to move around the centre along with the familiar 'city sightseeing' red bus tour.
a narrow alley
We decided to walk although in this heat it was at a far slower pace with frequent stops for refreshments at the many street food kiosks - a Cannoli here, a Mojito there and an Aperol-Spritz in between! Our EU Covid Pass was required in order to gain entry to the Cathedral http://www.cattedrale.palermo.it/
and Norman Palace https://www.federicosecondo.org/palazzo-reale-2/
. Strangely, it made us feel safer in the knowledge that everyone has had to prove their status in either paper or digital form. Will it help reduce the spread...who knows?
Once inside we had the option to visit the tombs of Kings and Queens, including King Roger, the Treasury and the collection of Royal Jewellery from the 12th century. On a less hot and humid day we may have felt more inclined to pay the full price to see all of these superb things however we decided on a shorter tour which included a rooftop climb up a spiral staircase that seemed to go on for ages before we reached the roof to catch our breath and admire a beautiful panorama over the whole city with countless churches.
crypts, highly decorated marble coffins
The Royal Palace of Palermo or Norman Palace wasn't the most impressive building from the outside however once inside our eyes fell on the Palatine Chapel. A true masterpiece of Arab Norman Byzantine style, commissioned by King Roger, the first king of Sicily and the best mosaic that we've seen to date. It's magnificent! We were speechless (and that doesn't happen too often) as we marvelled at the intricacy of the design and the time taken to create such a mosaic made with the tiniest of tiles.
the Norman Palace and garden took 15 years to complete
beautiful mosaics decorating all the walls and ceiling, photo's don't do it any justice
stunning hunting scene mosaic
Also on the itinerary was a visit to the catacombs to see thousands of well preserved mummies with the majority displayed hanging on the walls. Sadly despite the website saying it was open, it was shut for maintenance - no doubt someone has to maintain all those bodies!
It goes without saying that Palermo is yet another highlight and it would have been easy to spend more time here however an anchorage now beckons with the temperatures set to soar.
Total distance this season: 400.81 nautical miles