I have got a few gaps in the map, so I will have to get travelling…
Have Bag, Will Travel
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Not surprisingly Italy is the country with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites; it has fifty-three, seven more than Spain which has the second most sites in Europe. I have visited half of the sites in Spain but when I reviewed the Italy list I was disappointed to find that I have been to less than a quarter.
This time in Italy I was planning to add a few more, Milan (The Last Supper), Modena and Ferrara.
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Upon my return from Naples I thought I might update my map of places that I have visited in Italy.
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In the middle class Piazza Marina district there was an interesting park with large ficus trees with aerial roots hanging from the branches and reaching out to the ground below to strike down into the earth and add to the tree’s fortress like appearance.
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.
Segesta was the political center of the Elymians who were indigenous people from the west of Sicily who built the city in an alliance with Ionian Greeks. It flourished for over five hundred years until gradually it was abandoned as the inhabitants moved away from the mountains and down to the coastal areas for trading purposes.
Woke early in a sweat! OMG! I am going to drive a car in Sicily! I must be insane; whatever possessed me to dream up an idea like that!
After breakfast we walked for a last time down the Via Roma and noticed that it was quieter today, perhaps because last nights revellers were still in bed nursing hangovers. The streets were already impressively clean so the local council had obviously been working hard throughout the night. We arrived at the Piazza Giulio Cesare and missed the bus to the airport by just ten minutes. That gave me further thirty minutes worrying time while we waited for the next one in the railway station bar (nowhere else was open).
Beyond this poor area of the city was the busy port where there were urgent preparations being finalised before tonight’s big parade. Today was the culmination of a six-day festival in honour of the City’s patron saint, Saint Rosalia, who, according to legend, saved the City from a terrible plague in the seventeenth century.
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.
“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.