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Report 1097: A Week Exploring Sicily

By Linda Hagstrom from Pennsylvania, Spring 2003

Trip Description: Sept 2003, a week in Sicily which was part of a longer trip to Sicily, Ischia, Umbria, and Venice.

Destinations: Countries - Italy; Regions/Cities - Sicily

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; Single Traveler

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Page 1 of 7: Palermo, Day 1 and 2

In September of 2003, I spent a week in Sicily. This was the beginning of a 3 week trip to Italy.

Italy is my passion, and this was part of my 5th trip to Italy and my second trip to Sicily. The year previous, I flew to Catania, spent 3 days in Taormina and then 7 days at an agritourismo west of Taormina. During the 7 days I was part of a group hiking in the area. When I left Sicily the year before, I knew I would return soon.

On this trip, from the Palermo airport, I took a public bus into Palermo. I was surprised at the size of the city. It is very Mediterranean, with lush tropical foliage. The whole time I was in Sicily, the weather was perfect, with warm sun, cool evenings, low humidity.

I am a woman, 62 at the time of this trip, and I generally travel alone to Europe. My husband does not share my love of travel and particularly Europe, and is happy for me to go but has no interest in going himself. I had thought Palermo might be scary, particularly for a 62 year old woman alone, but for me it was not at all threatening and I loved it and will return.

I had made my Sicily hotel reservations through my local travel agent, feeling guilty that I had made all my other arrangements on the internet. She had reserved a room at a hotel right downtown, as I had asked. I like to be close to public transportation. I had spent a lot of time on the Best of Sicily website (on right, in resources) which was very helpful to me to decide just which things I particularly wanted to see and do. I love the medieval buildings, the street markets, the beautiful parks, the food, the history, and the beach. I also love to be outdoors.

The first afternoon, fighting jet lag, I went out walking with the map I picked up at the TI in the airport. I stayed outside, and walked all over the medieval part of Palermo, seeing the Arab areas and buildings, the port, and the medieval streets, enjoying the weather and the palm trees, stopping at a bar for a caffe. One day at a bar, I asked for a 'latte', meaning a 'caffe latte', an espresso served in a tall glass with steamed milk. I got a tall glass of plain steamed milk...guess I need to be careful what I ask for! Another thing I noticed this first day was a number of places where buildings had been bombed in World War II and never rebuilt. There were many such empty places in Palermo.

That evening I found a delightful restaurant with outdoor seating ... don't think I ever had to eat inside in Palermo. Near me sat two women who were in a hurry to have dinner and get to the ferry which runs overnight from Palermo to Naples ... sounded like a nice way to travel to me. I would have to remember that for a future trip.

The next day I particularly enjoyed the two Palermo street markets, La Vucciria and Ballaro. They are both primarily food markets, and everything is displayed, including lots of things from the sea, wonderful vegetables and fruits, half-butchered pieces of meat. I adore these markets, and the ones in Palermo were the best I've seen. I also walked to the Cathedral and went inside, and went to Monreale and saw the magnificent Cathedral there.

On the way back from Monreale, the bus was very crowded, and as I was getting off, I felt a hand in my pocket. I turned around and I had to laugh, because not the man behind me but the man behind HIM had his hand in my pocket! I never carry a purse or anything else. I keep about 20 euros in my pocket for spending money, along with lipstick and tissue and bus ticket, but all my other money and credit cards and passport etc are always safely in my moneybelt, so I don't worry too much about a pickpocket.

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