Trapani is an invisible town

Se vuoi leggerlo in ITALIANO ecco qui

Every day I wake up, brush my teeth and sit in front of pc, answer emails and give away hours and hours of my life surfing on internet, all morning and all afternoon but it’s above all for job, I swear. Today, during my usual nautical activity and while I was trying to follow something called diet (because surfing make me hungry every time ) I bumped into an article about itineraries to do in the west side of Sicily. The diet was proceeding well, till the moment I read ” Trapani isn’t a particularly attractive town” and BUM , the blogger went ahead leaving me with the broken heart.

And an unexpected disappointment (my real reaction was “heyyyyyAndHowDoYouDare,EvilBlogger?!?!?!?!?!“, sorry)

Actually, when I lived in Palermo and my adult life started, I snubbed my hometown too. When tourists said “ But Trapani is so nice, I didn’t imagine, there’s nothing about on guide books“, “Well, there’s no ​accounting for ​taste“, I said to myself.

But now I begin to like this town, I don’t know why, maybe because I met Giovanni or because by now I live here. I hope it isn’t because of the old age. It’s hard to see really the place where you always live, so taking a break for a long time is good to revalue it. And 11 years more in the brain and the heart too. Palermo is hard, you either hate it or you love it, there are no half measures. You have to take all of it, the culture and the crumbling buildings, the theatre and the shouting people. It’s a “passionate” city, I love it because it’s beautiful, dirty and lively, no good for who have a delicate stomach.

Once Giovanni told me about a guest who took the bus to Palermo. He arrived, looked around, frightened himself and returned on the bus to go to Trapani! :’D

Trapani has a softer sicilian character, not less genuine but rather less traumatic, poised between the torpidity of small islands and the colorful roar of big cities in Southern Italy.


It’s a bright town, the sea sparkles and the buildings in the old town give back tens of yellows and off whites and you feel like sunbathing as a lizard. The domes covered by emerald majolicas…
A quite and bright town, but not drowsy.

You go out and see people greet with a smile, old people and storekeepers meet every day but every day find something to say in the middle of road because the traffic and its noises are far.

You can cycle around the old town, from Villa Margherita up to the sea, under the warm sun, tinkling when you meet an acquaintance, without the fear of dying at the crossroads. I love ringing the bike bell, it resounds in the quite of the street, DRIIIIIINNNN (Ok, I’m feeling a little bit stupid 😀 )

Go under the Mura di Tramontana (old northern city walls) and find the sea (and if they removed the seaweeds from the beach you can bathe, but usually they clean the beach in June)

Go to Torre di Ligny (Ligny Tower) and find the sea and overlooking behind the tower is exciting in every season. There are only sea and rocks and a thrill runs down your spine, not only because of dizziness.

Go to the port (and find the sea 😀 ) and your mind runs among all those brighting spots between the sun and the water. In winter it’s cold, you cover the nose with scarf, against the biting wind and watch the seagulls during their immobility exercises in flight. They are strange. They stay there, fixed, suspended on the bursting water, balancing between the winds, neither too high nor too low.

If you pass through Porta Botteghelle you could notice an old table with stripped paint and three chairs. For Heaven’s sake! Don’t touch them, nobody do it. In Sicily you understand if a chair is abandoned or just put aside to use them the next day. It’s almost certain that those chairs have an owner and if you see them, you can sit but you can’t break, move or throw away them.

The handicraft, traditional or reinvented, rediscovered or never forgotten by faithful keepers become artists by now. The red coral, the fishermen nets, the silver and the majolicas, the sweets and the embroideries.

A small town, where you can find the unexpected you don’t expect

For the rest Trapani is always a sicilian town so the markets are always colorful and noisy, with sellers who shout compliments trying to attract some vain girls. If you don’t find a parking spot you can create it. The results could be artistic works, the traffic policemen take a picture before giving a ticket.
Old men set up living rooms in small spaces next their houses or shops to chat with the old friends or the neighbours.
But these things are normal in Sicily, luckily.

I think I’m not even so good at writing and explaining this place but every time I walk along the port and look the swinging boats, I feel a “bright quite” inside of me (do you know the italian poet Giuseppe Ungaretti? He said that the real love is a bright quite), maybe because I consider this place as one of many pieces of that puzzle called Love. Giovanni gave me this puzzle.

“You love a city not for its seven or seventy-seven wonders, but because it has an answer to your special question”

And Italo Calvino was right.

Right, that’s enough hearts and flowers, one month ago I wrote a long city walk on Trapani, but I didn’t know where to start because I thought that Trapani was culturally UNINTERESTING. I feel ashamed of this but I made up for lost time. I researched and researched, among scores of bites with the same 4 words and bare (and often wrong) information. The devastation of copy and paste.

I discovered that Trapani is really a nice and small town. As a typical sicilian town, it is a little bit medieval, very baroque and with a pinch of Liberty, scattered where you don’t expect it…


…it has a History but we don’t know it because that church is where my cousin got married or I went to that high school, those buildings and churches have been ever present.

I like the history of this town and you can discover it in a long city walk of one or two days but I’ll write it in the next post 🙂

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 B&B Belveliero in front of Trapani port, you can write here bebilveliero@gmail.com;
If you prefer to sleep at Boutique B&B Granveliero and partecipate to cooking workshops with us, write to granveliero@gmail.com (write FIORE in the email to receive a discount! 😉 )

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Tips & Info for a holiday in Sicily #1: the climate and the appropriate clothing

Se vuoi leggerlo in ITALIANO ecco qui

Looking the search terms used to find your blog is comforting, it makes you feel a less strange person. Somebody asks if Sicily is in northern or southern hemisphere or if Ryanair company allows to put pasta, coffee, Nutella, cigarettes and olive oil in the hold baggage (certainly he/she is an university student from Southern Italy) or if the heat kills birds in summer in Sicily. The million dollars question “Is Palermo safe?” is not important as “What do I have to wear in Sicily in February/April/May/summer/September/ December/ in Palermo, in the top of Erice mountain/ during Cous Cous Festival? (????)”
Here a long post about the weather and the appropriate clothes for a holiday in Sicily 🙂

Sicily is an island but is one of the most varied regions of Italy. The western dialect is different from that eastern one, different words for the same things within few kilometres, there are wars even about the name of foods. Sicily is a hot island and its people too. People go to Sicily above all in summer thinking of beaches and sea but forgetting that it’s the biggest island in Mediterranean Sea. There are many mountainous areas very far from the sea and the temperatures aren’t the same between the costline and hinterland.

Generally:

Coastal Area: mediterranean climate

Spring and summer are very long, winter is short. Rainfalls are rare in summer, it rains above all in winter (but not so much) and the diurnal temperature variation is between 11°C early in the morning with a keen wind and 22°C at midday with a hot sun (in December). Snow is an illusion in the coastline (with some exceptions) but there is a high humidity level, often over 85% (it means that if thermometer measures 33°C, you perceive over 40°C).

Hinterland: continental climate

Here it rains less but temperature is very low with snowfalls, frost and fog, fog, fog in winter. Summer isn’t too much hot because of the lower humidity level.

Sicily is very beautiful in spring, when Nature is lush and colorful and few people take a week’s holiday, the island is all for you. The temperature fluctuates between 18°C and 30°C and the evenings are cool. Spring in Sicily is ideal if you hate the summer stuffiness but you want to go to the beach and visit the cities.

Summer

is very hot and the sun is cruel, there is the same climate in north Africa, also because there is the Sirocco, the wind blows from the desert, the sky is covered by sand and temperature is between 27°C and 40°C. If you like the sea and spending many hours on the beach this is your season. Whereas if you prefer trekking, August isn’t a good idea for your summer holidays (unless you have experience of stronger trekking behind, at Great Salt Lake for example). Summer in Sicily is more beautiful in July.

Autumn

temperature is pleasant as in spring, from 18°C to a maximum of 26°C. You can still bathe in September and often till the first half of October. It’s a good period for holidays: less tourists, more relaxed hoteliers and kinder restaurateurs, many culinary events and cultural festivals as “Le Vie dei Tesori” (I talked about it here) and trekking is perfect. Unfortunately the boat trips of little islands are only in September, because the sea isn’t good for a pleasant sailing but ferries and hydrofoils work during all year, if anger of Poseidon allows the trip.

Winter

It’s the season with few tourists, also because there are less Ryanair flights starting from November. Temperature is between 5°C and 23°C and it’s the season of rains and cold wind. Winter exists also in Sicily and it could be cold so don’t wear flip flops, ok? IT’S COLD! Sometimes because the humidity it’s freezing. You can’t bathe and trekking is hard if it rained or a cold wind is blowing (but in other moments it’s ok if you don’t fear the cold). The real winter arrives to sicilian coastline from the second half of December and lasts till February. It starts before in the hinterland, where it snows, so consider ten degrees less. The ski season opens on the top of Etna and at Piano Battaglia (near Palermo)

When is the best period to visit Sicily?

April (the temperature is good but sometimes it rains) – May- June – September – October and, why not?, November are the perfect months to visit the sicilian coastline, both for trekking and for visiting the cities because temperatures are torelable, between 16°C and 27°C. I included November because in the last years there is a “translation” in the seasonal calendar and the good weather delays to arrive but in November you don’t need the coat and the wool scarf. The weather is variable, so some days a t-shirt and a cotton jacket are enough and other ones you need also a hoodie, above all in the evening.

Some fearless bathe also on 26th December but the best period for the beach is between May and September. In the hinterland the temperatures are more clement in summer. If you like to ski you can go to Etna in December, the level of snow is already good. Usually it snows from half of November to the end of February.

Recapitulating:

January: 5°C – 22°C
February: 5°C – 22°C
March: 10°C – 26°C
April: 12°C – 27°C
May: 16°C – 28°C
June: 18°C – 30°C
July: 22°C – 36°C
August: 26°C – 42°C
September: 25°C – 35°C
October: 15°C – 22°C
November: 8°C – 20°C
December: 5°C – 22°C

What can I wear for a holiday in Sicily?

CLOTHES

For winter: bring sweaters, coat and cap because it’s cold. If you need a Ryanair- friendly light luggage and you won’t stay always in a 5 stars hotel, substitute the sweaters with a fleece sweatshirt, they weigh little and keep warm. I recommend above all the cap, to warm up the ears and keep the hair in order. Second option for girls: bring a fur earflap! Warm ears and disciplined hair guaranteed 😀
Here we don’t wear rubber boots when it rains but sicilian roads are potholed and giant puddles form with two drops of water, so wear waterproof shoes 😛
The wind is strong in seaside tows as Trapani, so if it’s raining and you have an umbrella you could say accidentally some swear words. Bring a k-way, few grams weight and wind and rain are a distant memory.

For summer and autumn: bring light clothing. If you want to go trekking in the natural reserve of Zingaro in August, DON’T WEAR AN UNDERSHIRT if you want to avoid a burn, there are only two trees in all reserve! Put liters of sun lotion and cover your shoulders with a scarf after 11 a.m.. Bring a cotton jacket for a walk by the sea. The same applies if you have a holiday in Trapani and go up to Erice, where temperature always drops of 4-5 degrees.
From May to the beginning of October you can wear the swimsuit under the dress, one never knows (NB UNDER the dress and NOT as the only clothe, this is a strange mistake of some turists :P). For a holiday in November put long sleeved shirts, t-shirts and at least a jacket and a sweatshirt for the cool wind.
NB Bring a sun lotion with high SPF, also to walk in the town.

SHOES


It depends on what you need to do.
If you go trekking in Zingaro Reserve don’t use flip flops, not even for the easy coastal pathway or you just want to bathe in the small coves. Wear sneakers, or better tough shoes, there are many unpleasant stones in the pathways.
I suggest flip flops just for the beach in Sicily. Many villages and towns have paved roads, sometimes with pebbles, so even if you like that terrible foot massage, the slip is around the corner. Instead they are fundamental on the beach, to walk on the infernal hot sand after noon or for walking on the shoreline (the sicilian beaches are different from each other, someones have a sand as fine as talcum whereas others are rocky or full of pebbles or with stone grains)

So, no heels for a holiday in Sicily? Mmmm no joking, please! Heels and wedges are allowed but girls, be smart, put a pair of foot-saving ballet flats in the bag, you don’t know the roads to go.

As usual, if you’ve read this far in this post, I love you! 😀

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;
If you prefer to sleep at Granveliero and partecipate to cooking workshops write to granveliero@gmail.com (write FIORE in the email to receive a discount! 😉 )

Eccentricity of Sicilian people at the table in 22 points, Second part.

I had to publish this post before Christmas but… this is my snail blog, above all the English (my terrible English, I know) version, so, please, forgive my lateness 😦
Anyway here the second part of the post about the strangeness of sicilians. Sicilians are very strange people in general and they think ever the food so imagine the multitude of absurdities of this people at the table. At least 22, here the first ten, now the others 🙂

Se vuoi leggerlo in ITALIANO ecco qui.

11. The “sfincione” pizza. It’s the second culinary incomprehension in Sicily. The “sfincione“, a typical street dish of Palermo, isn’t a pizza! and Palermitans get angry when you make the mistake. It’s a two fingers tall dough, dressed with tomato sauce, onions and “grascia” (dirt), because the best sfincioni are sold on the street, in little carts, built by the pitchman’s grandfather and NEVER cleaned by the grandmother. The best street food in the world is made with decades of bacteria, oil and spits, sorry 🙂

12. The italian dictionary is wrong. If you ask for marzipan fruit, anybody tell you that marzipan doesn’t exist in Sicily. Try to ask for “Frutta Martorana” and they’ll pass bucketful of almond scented fruits to you. The bread crumbs? It doesn’t exist too, there is the “muddìca” or “mollica” in Sicily.

13. A satanist son is better than a vegan one. I think that with the exception of caponata and marzipan fruit, there aren’t many dishes without pig, sheep or horse meat, milk and derivatives, without pecorino or ricotta cheese in every form. The survival in Sicily is very very hard for a vegan. If you don’t eat cheese, egg or meat and are sicilian, don’t say it to your grandma or mother, they may feel bad. Get off! At night, in exile, but I don’t know who could help you. Being a vegan condemns to loneliness and to disqualification from every social event of sicilians, first among everything the feast of grilled sausage and bacon on Easter Monday, but also that one on 25th April (Italy’s Liberation Day), on 1st May (Labor Day), on 2nd June (Italian Republic Day), on Assumption day (a religious holyday, 15th August) and for every sunday on which you don’t know what to do and someone makes the land, the garage or the balcony, available.

14. I don’t like ricotta cheese. It’s a variation of 13th point. It’s a rarity but there are people who don’t like ricotta cheese. The sheep would be worth staying on the flag of Sicily, in place of Medusa and being declared sacred, together to its biggest gift, the milk…and the ricotta cheese. Hot, cool, sweet, salty or baked, it’s hard to avoid it in Sicily but nobody wants to do it! Hating ricotta is like hating Nutella, who declares a such heresy is looked with suspect and diffidence.

15. Eat slowly. Me and Giovanni are sicilian but when we sit down at the table, Giovanni seems Flash Gordon’s lost son, grown among ostriches in Africa. Fortunately opposites attract and when I’m at the table the time expands, my time perception collapses and an hour seems a quarter. During the meal we talk and waste time, with one dish or five ones, we relax and decompress the worries, till the coffee and the grappa. When I eat the second second course (it’s not echo), Giovanni has worn the jacket. There are few people as Sicilians who have understood the pleasure to eat but when there are the lessons about this concept, Giovanni was at the toilet.

16. Eat a farm quickly. Sometimes the reality imposes a chaotic rhythm and a quarter-hour must be of 15 minutes. Ok, Giovanni, sometimes you’re right. But we are in Sicily and the health is important for sicilians, so we can’t be satisfied with only a plate of pasta for all afternoon. For this reason we can eat three dishes, the sweet and the fruit in a quarter hour. To not faint at work and survive till the snack hour.

17. The sunday lunch never before 2 p.m.. It’s rudeness to ask someone to have lunch on Sunday at midday or at 1 o’clock, we aren’t at the hospital. We have to do so many things before! Breakfast at 9 a.m., the break at 10.30, the second break at 12.30, for example with an ice-cream. The midday is the perfect time to eat it because it’s cold and doesn’t occupy too space in the stomach. Aaaaafter you can have lunch, neither before 2 p.m. nor after 4 p.m., it’s Sunday!

18. Being ready for emergences, ever. We do much shopping and cook many dishes for one meal for this reason. Anything could happen and it will happen that day you won’t be ready, as in the perfect version of Murphy’s Law. The famine could come or it could snow for ten minutes and we could be blocked at home because of one millimeter of snow, because nobody has the chains in Sicily (excluded in hinterland). Eating much helps to mantein the corporeal temperature or to have a reserve for cells for the period of famine. We could faint while we are crossing the street, we could die in that case! The palermitan drivers look the traffic light for pedestrians and start when it’s yellow, to gain time, after all the traffic light for drivers will be green in two minutes, it’s the same! A relative with his five sons and daughters in law could arrive or a bus full of tourists could have broken down in front of your house and we don’t chase anyone away and staying all together is always pleasant. We could meet friends at the beach and it’s rude to not invite them under the umbrella to have lunch. Here’s why, sometimes, you see set tables, chairs and baking trays with “anelletti al forno” (baked pasta) at the beach! And also if you don’t meet anyone…all know that the beach whets the appetite! 😀

19. Give back the plate clean. For the emergences (see 18th point) and for courtesy. If there is half kilo of pasta in your plate, you MUST eat all, because it was cooked on purpose. Nobody wants you feel bad because of hypoglycemia near the traffic light. More over, when you will talk about that meal, you will not have to say that there was little food. Obviously you must go for seconds. You can reject the third offering only if you say to want a double portion of sweet.

20. The last spoonful is embarrassing. Before the last little piece, part or slice of everything, the commensals become like the young couples at the first month and stand on ceremony. (In reality all want the last piece and who decides to leave the formal dispute, after regrets. I say always “Yes, I want it” at the first time 🙂 )

21. Cheese on the pasta with sea food. Montalbano Commissioner hates this combination too. Sicilians hate bad made arancine, bad called sfincione but above all they hate the cheese on the pasta with sea food. If someone sees you to do it and wants to take your scalpo with the spoon, nobody will help you. And they’re right.

22. The Earth goes around the Sun, Sicily goes around the Food. Sicilians talk ever about the food and think it continuously. Sometimes a dude arrives at work, at 9 o’clock, and ask to you “What will you have for lunch?”

Don’t forget, it’s to laugh. Obviously we don’t eat caponata for breakfast every day, nor cannoli (as tourists think), but it could happen. (Once I ate caponata for breakfast, but it was midday U_U) 🙂

Bye, bye and sorry for my usual delay and my terrible English.
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 😉 )

Eccentricity of Sicilian people at the table in 22 points , First part

Se vuoi leggerlo in ITALIANO ecco qui.

I’m late with “English” post, I know but I write too long articles and when I try to translate them I would cry, the original italian version has been written two weeks ago :/

This post has been inspired by my mother, who once, seeing the bread upside down, scolded me in a peevish way ‘Don’t put the bread upside down!
But…why?
Because you mustn’t put it in this way!!!
What kind of answer is that? It’s a very sicilian answer, there isn’t a reason, it’s like this all along, it’s not necessary asking it also if it’s a mistery the reason. This episode wasn’t the only one, it was a real mania of my mother and when I discovered the reason I began to observe all strange things at the table of sicilian people. There are many eccentricities but before I sat down at the table plunged in the happy ignorance.

1. Don’t put upside down the bread!. Because it’s the body of Christ. Not because all do it just in this way!, nobody knows the reason nor asks it. And not even because, how my mother answered, trying to gloss over my harassing questions, the sesame seeds fall on the table >_> (here the most wanted bread has the sesame on).

2. Nothing is wasted. Considering that the most wanted bread has the sesame on and considering that the sesame is insidious and moves everywhere and you find the tablecloth seeds covered, considering that the breadsticks are splendor of restaurants and that a sicilian thinks about food 23 hours 24, considering that his/her thought has to be alleviated during the delay of dishes and, this is the most important thing, considering that nothing is wasted, also when there are the breadsticks, all sicilians, inevitably, as if they have a tic, moisten the fingertip and begin to plant it on the little seeds and to eat them, like an eager bird. They nod, talk gritting their teeth and pic, pic, pic fasten the seeds and bring them in their teeth, this is also a system which allows to re-moisten the finger in automatic way, like the self-inking stamps.

3. There is always the bread on the table. Both with one dish and with ten, because as my father said “You put in weight because you eat too and you eat too because you don’t eat the bread (to accompany the other foods, so you don’t satisfy your hunger)“. If you have the belly you know the reason.

4. But there isn’t ever the room-temperature water. There is always the cold water in winter and the water with ice cubes in summer. The expression “ambient temperature” is used only by the gardeners.

5. If it isn’t fried probably it hurts. The grilled food is permitted only during the good feeds in the country or in the terrace or in the balcony or in a street fenced by two cars. The parmigiana with grilled eggplants isn’t even served in the hospital. The fried food is everywhere in Sicily and it’s impossible avoid it. The fried has been under discussion also with my sweet love, the Medlar, who shifted me from the burner saying “You can’t cook!” because I’ve put less one half litre of oil to fry the zucchini for the pasta and I’ve added a drop of water. Since then he cooks and I wander around home into a coma because of fatty acids.

6. Tanto ogghiu unni’ chiange. “Because he doesn’t cry drops of oil”, so it’s useless. In Sicily the olive oil is used to cook the stones too, so it’s very precious. When olive oil pours down, all thirty-five commensals stand up to recover it. Somebody can say because it brings bad luck but actually because it’s very expensive because you buy it from your country neighbour, you don’t buy it at supermarket. Look 7th point.

7. Don’t buy the olive oil at the supermarket! When you are an university student and study far from your home, also the pantry moves with you and with it there is the bottle of fresh olive oil, that one bought from your neighbour, who has the plot adjacent at yours and four olive trees and wanted a kidney in excharge of his genuine oil, but we know that the genuineness costs. The fresh olive oil paradox is that has a cloudy and suspect colour and a poisonous flavour but this oil divides the biomaniac sicilian people, there are those people who wait ONLY the bitter fresh olive oil to eat it with the bread, rigorously made in a country bakery with wood oven, and the people who use ONLY the oil of before year, because it has a reassuring colour and a compatible with human life flavour (me). There is just one thing in common, don’t buy the olive oil at the supermarket, because you don’t know the origin, the olives, when they have been harvested, maybe it’s mixed with motor oil!!!. The bioconspiracy is old hat to sicilians.

8. Rosticceria for breakfast. When you enter in a bar to have the breakfast at 7 o’clock the counters are full of sweets and rosticceria, baked but above all fried food, for example arancine, it’s normal. I think that it was normal in Italy and not only in Sicily. I changed idea after my visit at Vatican Museums.
Once I visited Vatican Museums and considering that they are big my friend Andrea suggested to bring the packed lunch. After 10 o’clock a sicilian already thinks about the lunch, so at half past eleven you expect the rosticceria ready also at bars of Rome.
Bar number one, only rice salad.
Bar number two, rice salad and sandwiches.
Bar number three, rice salad, sandwiches and pizza.
ME: “Excuse me, are there only these dishes?” (Three full counters)
Barman: “What do you mean?”
ME: “Isn’t there rosticceria?”
B.: “There is the rice salad!”
ME: (Yes, now I put the rice in my pocket!). “No, no, rosticceria, I mean arancine, calzoni (baked closed sandwich)…”(iris with meat were a too advanced level request)
B.: “Calzoni? By this time?” O_O
ME: “But it’s even eleven o’clock!”
SILENCE
B.: “Sorry Miss, we have just this food”
When you go to the museum, you learn many things…

9. Badly made arancine. Talking about Rome I remember the poem written by a roman poet, Trilussa. In this poem he writes that happiness is a little thing, for example for the bee the happiness is a flower.
When you wake up at 7 o’clock to go to lesson and outside it’s cold with eight degrees, when it’s recreation time or come out of university after ten hours, or the break time is arrived and you are tired, sleepy, bored or stressed out, happiness could be near. It’s small, cheap, magic and fried! It’s arancina, that hot oily fatty ball that t’arricria, comforts you, before to buy it and after you have eaten it. Thought, desired, yearned and then finally conquered and eaten, after you see the world in a colorful way, pink like the ham, green like the peas and red like meat sauce. The hash house that disappoints these expectations risks the financial collapse (or a huge 800A (sicilian swear word) written with spray paint on the shop window).

10. Badly called arancine. Arancina is female and I talked about this matter here. Unfortunately the sicilians of western side of island call arancine with a male name and in Sicily there is the Big War for the gender of arancine. Really. When the fight about this matter begins, it lasts for hours, days, weeks. Maybe the argument of the post or the article is the sicilian whale or the UFOs in Sicily or the sicilian whales which use flying saucers, it’s not important, if someone writes arancina or arancino in a comment, all following comments are just about the gender of arancinA/arancinO. I swear. If you have to ask an arancina and don’t know if it’s the correct name in the correct place, just point your finger at it.

Soon (I hope) the Second part with other eleven points, stay tuned… 🙂

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 😉 )

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