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We were supposed to do a tour around the island of Sicily and we were already looking forward to the sandy beaches of camping Luminoso in Punta Bracetto, but............... The campsites in the south are full of winter residents and the weather was getting bad. So we reversed the route. We drove to Palermo on Monday 6 February, just drive 250 km :-). We go to the sandy beaches later and then hope for good beach weather.

We were at camping Olimpo about 15 kilometres east of Palermo. A terraced campsite with sea views, but a ‘back to basic’ campsite. By this I mean in particular the sanitary ware. Cold and/or lukewarm showers, where you first have to convert a ‘fuse’ yourself to get lukewarm/hot water. The sanitary facilities were old, now that's no problem, but if it's not very clean I find it less pleasant. Anyway, we came for Palermo and Corleone, more about that in another blog.

Palermo is the capital of Sicily with almost 700,000 inhabitants. Bigger than Rotterdam, smaller than Amsterdam to give an idea in terms of size. The city was in bloom under Arab rule. Later this became a Norman rule and in the Second World War the city suffered a lot of damage from bombing. Corruption (mafia) has chaotically expanded the city. The suburbs, in so many cities in Sicily, are not beautiful. Once you get past that, Palermo is definitely worth it.

We went by car. By car? Yes, just park at the main train station, which is right in the city. Good parking with security, no narrow entrance, spacious places. That went very well. We wanted to walk the route to the historic centre via a main road with the cathedral as the highlight. It turned out a bit differently.

Before we knew it, we walked in Palermo's poorest neighbourhood, namely Albergheria. It seems that you shouldn't be here in the evening (South African mafia reigns there), but during the day it was a feast to see. This neighbourhood has the Mercato di Ballaro. A market that winds through the neighbourhood, where fresh produce and of course knickknacks are sold. What a scents, what colours, what a hompen meat that hung there, what a delicious fruit (bought strawberries), actually a feast to walk through. Even me, who am not from the markets, really liked it. And Rudolf, he thoroughly enjoyed it. Especially when he was offered tasty cheese, or not Rudolf? The one wasn't tasty at all haha.

The historic centre is forgiving with beautiful buildings. Arriving at the cathedral, it turns out to be beautiful and the various influences can also be seen. For example, it is now a cathedral, but it was first a Christian basilica and then a mosque. The mixture of styles is clearly reflected in the building. We have also been to the graves and in the crypt.

From there we went to the Palazzo dei Normanni, which also houses the Capella Palatina. In the Palazzo there is now also the ministry, so coat off, bag in a separate container, walking through a scan yourself. You don't just enter the Palazzo. Just like the ministry in The Hague or a court in the Netherlands.

The Capella Palatina is very special to see. It is a small basilica in the Palazzo with beautiful mosaics. The walls are decorated with biblical scenes and a lot is finished with gold. Here too it is a mix of styles, for example there are also beautiful oriental pendant lights, while Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary are depicted in the middle, the ceiling is an Arabic masterpiece. Wonderful to have seen.

What else have we seen than: * Corso Vittoria Emanuel, the main street in the old town. Walking area, authentic shops and tourist shops * Chiesa del Carmine with the beautiful yellow-green dome on the roof * Fontana Pretoria, which is also called fountain of shame because of the many nude images * Quattro Canti, a crossroads with four hollow facades. Each facade has a fountain and an image of a patron saint * Chiesa Santa Catharina from the outside, due to restoration. However, through a side entrance you reach the old monastery with a beautiful courtyard and the old monastery. * San Cataldo, a chapel that is not decorated inside, but still has three domes, Arabic arches and inscriptions of the Koran.

And then there's so much more to see. Palermo is a city where you can go quietly for two days, and then you haven't even seen all the sights in the suburbs.

As for the weather, we made a good choice to drive west of the island. Cloudy, wind and occasional rain we had during our stay at Palermo. In the east? Wind force 8, Catania airport closed, rain all day, a good choice not to stay there. We are now in Marsala, southwest Sicily and the sun is shining again. Ciao from Marsala.


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