Dear friends of The Fleece Milano,
We’re glad to have received many appreciations for the first part of our “see it like a local” tour. That’s why, while many of you were still enjoying their day trip in Napoli, we already headed south to our next destination, the city of Palermo. Palermo is one of the Italian cities with the greatest blend of architectural styles and cultures. A city that, through the centuries, has been home, among others, to Arabs, Normans, Spaniards and Italians and that today gives back to its visitors every tiny shade of its wonderful melting pot.
The rules of the game stay the same: a one-day trip merging history, gastronomy, landscape and art. It goes without saying that if you want to visit Palermo, we recommend giving yourself at least 4 to 5 days. Here we will try to drag you a bit off the beaten tourist tracks.
Our starting point is also the most unconventional and peculiar stop of our tour, the “Capuchin Catacombs”. In 1534 the Capuchins settled in Palermo and started to bury the dead friars in a grave, placed underground in the south side of the church. However, at the end of the sixteenth century, due to insufficient space, they needed to empty the grave and exhumated 45 corpses that turned miraculously free from wear and tear of time. The fact was perceived as a sign of divine intervention and soon other bodies who needed to be buried were placed in another room and a chapel built on purpose. At first the grave was reserved to religious only but, during the 17th century, nobles and supporters of the order began to be allowed. The catacombs are definitely one of the most evocative places you could visit in your life: a place where the living can actually meet the dead!
Walking from the catacombs down to the sea, you might have started feeling a bit hungry and that’s right the time where you can stop for a quick but rich lunch at “Franco U Vastiddaru”, a place where you can try the full range of authentic Palermitan street food: panini con la milza, rosticceria, caponata, arancine and much more. You’ll just be spoiled for choice and if the place is a bit too crowded you can always order for take away and have it in the shade of one of the majestic centuries-old trees of Giardino Garibaldi at Piazza Marina.
After a power nap on the grass caressed by the breeze that comes from the nearby sea, we’re ready to head to the “Convento di Santa Caterina” a monastery and roman catholic church erected in the 14th century and dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The beautiful church is located in one of the most historic districts of Palermo, the “Kalsa” surrounded by others architectural and artistic wonders of the city such as I Quattro Canti, Piazza Pretoria and the church of San Cataldo (the amazing Cathedral is also walking distance from here). For those of you with a sweet tooth, you’ll be delighted to know that the cake and pastry workshop of the monastery, historically run by the nuns, has been brought back to life and bakes everyday typical Sicilian delicacies.
While the sun slowly dives into the sea, we can wonder around the Kalsa streets and alleys and stop for a drink at “Sartoria” a cocktail bar with a buzzing atmosphere, run by great mixologists, that will make you feel the real experience of a traditional aperitivo. Finally, our choice for the dinner is “Premiata Enoteca Butticé” a cozy but refined wine shop with its own kitchen serving rigorously fresh products especially when it comes to seafood. Tip of the day: order raw red shrimps and langoustines and match them with their specialty almond panelle; you won’t regret a single bite of it. Ask for Giovanni and tell him you’re one of our friends to get a special treatment!