These are not tree trunks, but shoots or branches the banyan tree sends down to the ground that then root. This is not even one -third the diameter of the tree. This one happens to be the largest banyan tree on the European continent.
Filippo Basile, one of Palermo's finest architects, designed this small, square park in the Liberty style. (more…)
I just realized my last eight posts were all about food and places to get it. I've been on a diet, so I'm obsessed, I guess you could say. So today I took a walk in the park. A guided tour of the Villa Garibaldi. The cast iron fence that surrounds it and the (more…)
The overflow crowd at lunchtime, Antica Focacceria San Francesco
The food is so good and the prices so reasonable that the crowd spills out the door a full hour before traditional Sicilian lunchtime. Not so bad, though, because across the piazza is the fabulous medieval ( 1300s) Basilica di San Francesco. To see what they serve, go to www.afsf.it for mouth-watering photos (more…)
Antica Focacceria San Francesco serves the best traditional Sicilian food at moderate prices.
I went to the focacceria today to ask fo an interview with Fabio Conticello, the brother of owner Vincenzo Conticello. Vincenzo, back in 2007, stood up in court and pointed the finger at the mafioso who came to the restaurant and demanded protection money. This was an unprecedented act of courage. Five Mafiosa went to (more…)
Two guys from Tunisia and Bangladesh serve bi-national fast food.
The largest foreign population of Palermo are the people from Bangladesh. Every time I walk home from the Teatro Massimo neighborhood, down Via Maqueda to the corner of Via Napoli, I pass this one fast food place, Bangla Sonar, that emits the most delicious aromas of spices unknown to me. It's a clean, well-lit (more…)
Spent a weekend away with my friend Palmina in Catania. She runs her own language school, GIGA, and also works for various language-school associations and is VERY busy but carved out a weekend to spend with me. She took me to one of her favorite places, Acitrezza, on the Sicilian riviera, and we listened (more…)
The books are in no particular order. Great for browsing. He also sells old postcards, magazines, and maps
Pietro Tramonte, whose family is from Gibellina, runs a bookstore in an alley in a street parallel to Via Roma. The books go from floor to ceiling and now spill out into the alley in these shelves he covers with tarps at night to protect from weather and thieves. He is also a poet. (more…)
This seems to be the favorite coffeepot of the house, despite the fact that its handle fell off, or melted off, and the plastic knob on the lid has melted into a sorry blob. Once a coffee pot is seasoned, no one wants to get rid of it. It takes a long time to break in a new one. (more…)
Beautiful majolica-covered church dome in Ballaro`
Prof. Carlo Di Franco, an anthropologist, author and president of the non-profit cultural association Palermo Dei Misteri, has been walking me around the four quarters of Palermo. Most recent trip was to Ballaro`, where he pointed out this beautiful, majolica tile-covered church cupola known locally and affectionately as the Breast of Ballaro`, although he named it in Sicilian.
This old abandoned palace in the Vucciria market crumbled shortly after I got here.
Two historic palazzi have crumbled from neglect in Palermo's city center since I got here early February, and more are ready to fall. I walked around the centro with a group wearing hardhats to raise consciousness about the frailty of these once stunning medieval, abandoned buildings.
Palermo children used to find these rocking horses in their shoes on Nov. 2, the Day of the Dead. They did not receive gifts on Christmas.
Papier mache miniature rocking horses were given to children on I Morti, the Day of the Dead. Artisans Nunzio Venuta and his wife, Marina Mancuso, still make these beautiful, traditional toys at their store cum workshop, Il Laboratorio in Via 4 Aprile just off Piazza Marina. Il Laboratorio first opened in 1991.
Cristina Buccellato holds a meter stick wall to wall in Europe's smallest store, U` Pirtusu, near Palermo's Quattro Canti, the city center
Cristina Buccellatto, a jewelry maker, runs Europe's smallest store, a hole in the wall next to the Hotel Centrale just a few steps from the Quattro Canti, the intersection at the center of Old Palermo. The store is just over one meter wide and three meters deep. The name of the store is " U Pirtusu", Sicilian (more…)