But is Palermo safe? I lived there for many years but I never took a picture of this city. Because mi scantavo. A post dedicated to the search of freedom to walking.

One of the biggest trees in Italy, the Ficus of Giardino Garibaldi in Palermo

Se vuoi leggerlo in ITALIANO ecco qui.

I left my house in Palermo two months ago and now I must to return there only to wave a form under the nose of a “sturduta” (dumb) secretary of maybe the biggest but surely the most disorganized university of the island, otherwise I can’t do the exam. No, no fax and no, not even an email…and if they don’t even answer the telephone it’s not because they haven’t that opposable finger thanks to which we did evolutionary jump but because of the lagnusìa, the laziness that makes bureaucracy in Sicily slow like a sloth, that hasn’t really the opposable finger so it does nothing but at any rate it’s justified. They’ll solve everything in two minutes but I must lose two hours to go and other two to return by bus, without counting the others lost in line in front of the only open counter among twenty others.

Seeing as I will lose half of the day I decide to lose the second half one and do a thing that I didn’t ever do during the many years olden in this city. I’ll walk with a reflex camera.

I didn’t ever do it because “mi scantavo“, I was afraid to do it.

So many times walking I would have it with me, there are so many beautiful things in Palermo, usual and uncommon. I knew that my time here would be limited and this city is very important for me, the memory sways, the age doesn’t help and I want remember, I would look and look again Palermo, always, also if my time there is ended for now. I haven’t only one photo of Palermo, whether of that one I lived or of tourist one, because I was terrorised, I daydreamed about poses and scenes but reflex remained closed in its bag at home. My camera is not precious, it’s a little reflex with a screwed piece of glass, but it’s one of the few things that I bought with my money just for me. I don’t like many things but during the shopping I didn’t remember anything of them and spent my money for the presents for others and when the memory came back I was flat broke. But the most important thing is being satisfied. For this reason I made few more concrete presents for myself: some low cost flight tickets to Rome and this little Canon Eos 1000D with a piece of glass of 18-55 mm. I adore it. It’s my little, my loved, my reserve of memories and little satisfactions, I can’t allow that any guy purse snatches it to sell it for just 200 euros after have thrown the memory card full of blurry photos of views and my niece in company of a different My Little Pony every time in a drain.This is no laughing matter.

When I enrolled at University my coming rommates, already broken in living in Palermo, had described the city like a sicilian far west, the more unforgettable warning was ‘Don’t walk near the doors, they draw you in when you least expect it!’ We went out all together only with a guy…we were FOUR girls!!! The guy would have to be our protect, the person would have to receive chivalrously a bunch of punches and offer his wallet. On one occasion my roommate became hysterical seeing me with the hood worn up to eyes because she had suffered a robbery at supermarket and the thief was dressed in that way, she hasn’t a good memory of hoods but didn’t remember that the prices of that supermarket were revised just for the university students, THAT was the real robbery. To prevent the purse snatchings ‘Put back the money in the bag when you are still in the shop!’

Dunno.

When I stayed alone at home for the first time it was because I would have to take the bus for Trapani at 7 p.m. and in winter there is dark and I was too afraid of going alone to the station, all looked monsters, criminals and killers, I imagined myself robbed and strangled under a tree, so I decided to stay one night again at home. Alone. The door closed with three turns of key. Three up and three down. And the chain. My fellow students (strangely only the men) were often blocked and robbed, they were terrorised. When I went to Palermo from Trapani to follow lessons I put the money in a secret pocket stitched on purpose. I’ve a friend who has be never stopped, he could speak a perfect palermitan dialect, it brought in goose bumps, a marked and unintelligible lullabye, where to say ‘Cosa’ (What or thing) you have to open the mouth like a hooven and say ‘Cuoasa‘ (untranslatable) and dressed black jacket with the hood up to the eyes, he seemed more criminal than some shady people circulating in those areas of Palermo. The universitary area was, is like this. This one intersects much with the most famous and accessible (because near the Stazione Centrale) tourist area, the triangle of Cattedrale, Via Maqueda and the Kalsa. The tourist area is in a very degraded area of Palermo but not the most degraded one.

It never happened anything bad

Palermo is leopard and you can see a parisian café near a dirty panellaro (who makes bread with panelle, often in the street) and universitary students walk among black kids, Pakistani guys and chinese women and turning the angle bump the nose into shaved eyebrows of palermitan hero of “New melodic” music of the moment and avoid tourists with red skin.

One day I was with a troupe to shoot a videoclip in Via Bara all’Olivella. Once this street was a little Bronx, full of rubbish and little reassuring faces but now, seeing as it’s the only street from which a beautiful glimpse of Teatro Massimo is visible, is full of little shops for tourists, restaurants, small tables and parasols, it’s so full that the glimpse is no more visible. There is only a really beautiful thing here, the “Teatro dei Pupi di Mimmo Cuticchio” (The Theatre of Puppets of Mimmo Cuticchio).
We shooted a video, there were many thousands of euros between lens, reflex cameras and sliders and among meddlers and storekeepers, by now become our partners of work, the warning “Look at mopeds” (Here there are snatchers) was inevitable.
Noboby stole nothing and our level of attention was normal, after all we had to work.

I was never plundered nor kidnapped and I walk serenely near the doors but I put the money in the purse before to exit the shop, I think that it’s a good habit everywhere, when you can do it. Sometimes a man “ti sconcica“, whistles and congratulates your mum, but you can ignore them and go on without lookin them, they will knock it off. I went back home also alone, also with dark but always when there is still somebody, workers who returned for the dinner, and I’m alive and without a bad experience to tell you. I went back home also by bike, at midnight, from Palazzo Pantelleria to Policlinico, with the terror up to my neck, because one never knows. Nobody stopped me, never, but the few pedestrians looked me like a fool.

Once a friend from Rome, Favetta, came and saw me in Palermo. His hotel was at Ballarò (one of the three storical markets of Palermo) and I reached him by bike. After a evening spent to dance tango in very degraded areas of the city, back Chiesa of San Domenico, that during the evening is inflamed of arts and beauty in some little places, we stepped towards home, me, he and the bike beside. “Come on!, run to home, it’s late and you are alone and with the bike, I’ll try to find the way to go back hotel, I think that it’s near, surely we’ll arrive in the same moment, go!”. Me: “Favetta, I went all the way many times. The other times wasn’t so late but I have a heavy chain and a shrill voice and no hesitation to use them (above all the chain). However strange it may sound but it’s more probable that they stop you because you are a man and not me, because I’m a woman (this is my personal statistic), with that face then!”. Which face? Imagine Woody Allen, but with mustache like inspector Jacques Clouseau, he fancies himself as Serpico but he’s really like Sam, he’s one of my best friends, how could I leave alone a so funny and sweet friend? I couldn’t. Also because during the return he tried to make way and even me almost was losing the way in the second biggest european old town. During 30 minutes of walking we met vagabonds and strange people, even an old man who asked cigarettes…from the balcony, he just lowered “‘u panaro“(the basket). But we are still alive and not traumatized.

I looked many tourists walking with the cameras hanging by the neck, quiet and smiling but I have heard of many bag-snatchings…

…therefore is Palermo safe or not?

There are many people, many foreigns and some delinquents. Like in every big city in the world.
Is it safe? More than New york and London surely, it seems more than Oslo, if you “te l’accolli“, risk to go there, why not to Palermo? Out of this city there are girls who believe that here people are kidnapped in the dark places, that there are shootings in the middle of the road and that the life is worth a cigarettes pack. But this is not “Il Padrino“! -_-‘
In reality the rules to stay good here are those of common sense, but those are valid everywhere there are more than 100.000 citizens. The petty crime is widespread here, it’s true, but in the morning there are so many people and tourists and students who walk quiet, also with the reflex cameras and if you are in difficulty you can shout, at least 200 turn in your direction and you are safe but it would be a unlucky coincidence.
The evening is more dangerous. Don’t defy the luck, I do many times but only because it was necessary and also if nothing ever happened maybe I’ve been really lucky, so I suggest you to walk in two and not alone. Alone is safe if you walk where there are light and some people but in two is better, at any rate you don’t walk with terror and relish more the stroll. Look out but without paranoias. The area of Magione is more thorny after the sunset because out of the squares of light near the places it’s desert and isolated and don’t underestimate also Via Roma/Via Maqueda in the evening. I don’t want to do psychological terrorism, my experience was absolutely positive for years but it’s always a big city, look out but without terror, Palermo is safe enough. Of course if you go to Brancaccio the situation is totally different, that area is dangerous also in the morning but it’s not necessary to go there, there’s nothing of interesting.

But therefore if all walk quiet with reflex camera, why are you afraid, Anna?
Because I’m only a human, though, and sometimes others wash my brain with their fears and worries and those times I doubt of beeing just lucky for ten years.
Some days ago they have stole the silver flower of Santa Rosalia. This sculpture is poor and it was the only precious ornament. Here they say “Viva Palermo e Santa Rosalia!“, “Long live to Palermo and Santa Rosalia”, so far I belived that Palermitans don’t love only their city but not even Santuzza, the little Saint, survived to insult, how can I survive?

che camurrìa, how inconvenience! Enough! Let’s take out the reflex, well hanging by the neck, relaxed, without problems. And voila! The first pictures of Palermo, at Kalsa and Casa Professa, timid and pathetic photos, it was he first time and…nothing happened, again! I held hanging by the neck, up the backpack put counter, forward like a infant, to support the arms and rest, to take pictures and make more difficult a bag-snatching, of backpack and reflex camera. Lo “scanto“, the fear, was passing and getting to like take pictures in Casa Professa, click,click,click, How many things I can immortalize now, I love you Palermo and I want to see you ever. You scared me and now no more. I was afraid to exit alone and now no more (not too at least). Now I see you with different eyes and I use the bike (because I know where to hide it). Now I can take pictures of you, finally! Click, click, click holy mackerel! It put out! I forgot to recharge the battery!

If you want to correct my English (please, be kind because I’m a sensitive person and I’m learning) or suggest something, you can write to fioredinespula@gmail.com
If you want to sleep in Belveliero you can write here bebilveliero@gmail.com (write FIORE in the email 😉 )
If you prefer to sleep in Granveliero and partecipate to cooking workshops write to granveliero@gmail.com

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