While the current travel restrictions are in place I have no new stories to post so what I thought that I would do is to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.
On 20th July 2007 I was in the classical Italian City of Palermo in Sicily…
A couple of years ago I suggested to some regular travelling pals that we should go to Naples in Italy for a few days. They were horrified by the suggestion because of the city’s reputation as being rather dangerous. They said that they would prefer to go to Barcelona in Spain even though I pointed out that the Spanish city is the pickpocket capital of Europe and had recently suffered a terrorist attack.
I couldn’t persuade them to reconsider so we travelled to Naples by ourselves. We thought of ourselves as intrepid adventurers stepping out boldly into a dangerous Italian city. For us this completed a trio of visits to so-called risky Italian cities because previously we had stayed in Bari in Puglia which enjoys a similar reputation and Palermo in Sicily, the home of the Mafia.
I have often wondered where all of these crime stories come from and are they true? It seems that they are linked to a web of crime syndicates that operate across all of southern Italy. Sicily has the Cosa Nostra, Naples the Camorra, Calabria has the ‘Ndrangheta and Puglia the Sacre Corona.
In preparing this post I did a little research and was surprised to find that not one of these cities is in the top ten hazardous places in Italy with the top three spots being taken by Milan, Bologna and Rome all of which are all further north.
I think it is fair to say that a tourist is at more risk from a street pickpocket attack than an organised crime syndicate.
A year later we went to Madrid and my friend, who thought Naples was dangerous, had his wallet stolen in the street.
Click on an image to scroll through the Palermo Gallery…
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Posted in Europe, Food, History, Hotels, Italy, Literature, Postcards, Travel, World Heritage
Tagged Angiolo Mazzoni del Grande, Culture, Grand Hotel et des Palmes, Life, Mafia, Markets, Palermo, Palermo Street Market, Sicily, Via Roma
Car Parking – Sicilian Style
The traffic was noisy and impatient with the usual medley of car horns, which is a feature of Italian driving or course. If the normal rules of driving do not apply in Palermo then the normal rules associated with parking definitely are completely irrelevant. At the Piazza San Domenico on the Via Roma there was a small and hopelessly inadequate car park surrounding a fountain that was full of impatient drivers looking for non-existing parking spaces, blowing their horns, waving their arms and shouting at each other in that classic Italian driving style. There was double and even triple parking and almost every car had minor accident damage as a result. I certainly wouldn’t like to park my car there.
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The breakfast room at the Grand Hotel Et Des Palmes was large and spacious and to get there it was necessary to walk through the expansive public areas and here it was possible to appreciate fully the grand scale of the place. It was the sort of hotel with a lot of staff with their own special jobs to do including one man in a smart waiter’s suit whose only real task seemed to be to be available to operate the hot water and coffee machine. Actually he wasn’t especially good at that because he kept disappearing for long periods that always seem to coincide with refill time.
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Posted in Europe, History, Hotels, Italy, Travel, World Heritage
Tagged Angiolo Mazzoni del Grande, Grand Hotel et des Palmes, Mafia, Palermo, Palermo Street Market, Sicily, Via Roma
“If you haven’t seen Sicily you haven’t seen Italy. Sicily is where the soul of Sicily is.” – Goethe
This was once the old Arab quarter of the city with a typical maze of narrow streets and blind alleys and Arab architecture including the San Cataldo chapel built with a series of arches and topped with three characteristic crimson domes. This is also the civic centre of the City and we visited the Palazzo delle Aquile, which is the site of the Town Hall and the Fontana Pretoria, which is an impressive fountain, decorated with nude statues. In more prudish times it was called the ‘fountain of shame’ but I thought that they were rather nice.
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Posted in Cathedrals, Europe, History, Hotels, Italy, Travel, World Heritage
Tagged Grand Hotel et des Palmes, Italy, Palermo, Palermo Street Market, Sicily, Via Roma