Back to the islands: Palermo = passion [capital P]

2015: Being welcomed by drug addicts and prostitutes is not the average exploration start through a whole new city, for a young woman and her partner. But then, this is the Stazione Centrale in Palermo, its surroundings, and the general vibe, especially on a Friday night.

However, overlooking all these elements is easy: once we’ve begun walking with the very friendly Mauro and Alessandra we’d met on the train [please get in touch if you’re reading this!], the beauty of the city struck me. A different beauty, indeed, though a fascinating one. Black buildings, seemingly collapsing before our very eyes, narrow pathways, a scent of dark yet hopeful history, with a touch of art and joy.

‘Some wonderful city you’ve got’, I gushed at the receptionist of Hotel Regina, a very authentic stay in the centre of it all. To fight the temptation of opening the windows and sneak-peeking through one of the alleys below equals not carpe-dieming your stay.

When the long-expected Mediterranean cyclone we’d heard about on our way back from Stromboli hit us at around 6:30 in the morning, cracking the old windows wide open, the dream of a bright morning in Palermo seemed to gradually vanish, as the horror of the storm was taking hold. Yet, after a light breakfast served in the room, a late check-out, a change of plans, and the last drops of rain, the mood switched back.

The cool and humid air started to get warmer and warmer and the sun eventually smiled at us in the puddles of water all around the old center.

In between a squint at Teatro Massimo, in our search for the most acclaimed pasticcerias in the area, and a few-minute break in the oriental Piazza della Vittoria, we could see pieces of glass on the pavement and trees torn down by the high winds.

Cattedrale di Palermo, Sicily, Italy

From the top of Campanile di San Giuseppe Cafasso, everything seemed peaceful: the majestic Cattedrale, the Moorish San Giovanni degli Eremiti, and even the silent reminders of the Mafia.

Chiesa di San Giovanni degli Eremiti, Palermo, Sicily, Italy

Gentle and smiling faces helped us reach our sweet peak of the day, on back alleys that led us to Pasticceria Cappello, which became not only my favourite pasticceria but also the author of the sweetest and most delicious piece of art I’ve ever tried: il cannolo siciliano.

Calories checked, Le Catacombe dei Cappuccini were reached minutes before closing time and the eeriness was soon replaced by a race against time to where the adventure started the night before, with a last look thrown at the emblematic Fontana della Vergogna.

A train ticket and a new destination were waiting.

It’s just that it cut our love story short. Palermo’s and mine.          


2018: Less than 3 years later, the story continued.

Heading to our accommodation in Palermo, Sicily, Italy

This time, around Vucciria. What fond memories did I take with me, besides the fact that Palermo looked as stunning as I remembered and that the sweets at Pasticceria Cappello were unchanged?  

Again at Pasticceria Cappello in Palermo, Sicily, Italy

Libreria Dudi – they have a lovely selection for children (stationery included) and the whole idea around this bookstore is simply cute!

Libreria Dudi, Palermo, Sicily, Italy

Trattoria Al Ferro di Cavallo was packed on a Saturday night (a booking would have been necessary; luckily, we had arrived early).

♥ We finally lingered more around Quattro Canti on our way to the train station. It is the centre of the historic quarters of the city – and quite splendid if I may add.


What did I learn during this early-April trip to Sicily?

that we needed more ☼ than we had (and that people living in hot climates have a different vision of the ‘cold’);

Vucciria, Palermo, Sicily, Italy

☼ that we couldn’t find gelato in brioches;

Many stores were closed; Palermo, Sicily, Italy

☼ that it was too early in the season (!) for granita;

Off-season Palermo, Sicily, Italy

☼ that markets, however, were open (Vucciria, too!) and rich!


Why am I writing this now?

Because, apparently, we have a thing for travelling to the Mediterranean islands off-season. You’ll get some more sea-drenched pieces from me. 

Joy of revisiting Palermo, Sicily, Italy


/The '2015' part was first published in November 2015 on the website of Yonderbound, which ceased to exist; not included in social media posts and the weekly newsletter/

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