April 24

Palermo, Italy
Posted on April 24th, 2011 at 7:29 PM by admin
After arriving in Palermo via faerie we went straight to the hotel to unload and have breakfast. Then we headed on our tour of the city. We started in my person favorite cathedral — the Monreale Cathedral, also known as La Basilica Cattedrale di Santa Maria Nuova (please see previous Palermo post for pictures!). I even bought a mosaic from a local store to have a souvenir of my favorite cathedral!! We also visited another similarly styled chapel called Palatine Chapel (Capella Palatina). Much of the rest of the tour was from the bus but we saw many of  the most important buildings. I was excited this day and took an extraordinarily large amount of pictures. We saw a few churches, one in the Norman Palace, which we barely managed to get in a visit before they closed the church to tourists for an Easter mass. The other, Palermo Cathedral,  was holding a mass when we walked in. Many of the tourists were taking pictures but I just didn’t have it in me to do so during a mass.

Fountain outside Cathedral Monreale

Some of the most impressive grafiti i've ever seen

Inside the Palatine Chapel

In the afternoon we were given  more free time than usual presumably because it was, after all, Easter Sunday. We walked down the street of our hotel to find somewhere to eat. We ended up  in a fish place with a waiter who should’ve retired long ago. He messed up every part of our order imaginable but the fish, at least, was very good. Mom  and I went out to find some Sicilian specialties after lunch while dad went upstairs for a nap. Unfortunately we didn’t find any such specialties and  ended up walking back to the hotel empty handed. I then decided to take a nap and a bath. I even finished the book I brought to read for homework out on  the balcony overlooking Palermo’s coast. It was definitely a high time for me even if I still was fighting illness. I didn’t realize my health would go downhill from there. The decline started with a restless night due to some idiot in the parking lot screaming to cram in cars all night. The hotel room  and view was spectacular but clearly costs were cut when making window insulation decisions!

The view out my hotel window

Dad and I infront of the coast AND a very large tree stump

Posted on February 19th, 2011 at 2:20 PM by admin
As a kid I knew that my great-grandfather was from Sicily and although he died when I was very young I do remember him saying something to me in Italian (or most probably in Sicilian). And no – I don’t remember what he said because I didn’t know a lick of Italian I just remember it being Italian and not understanding. I definitely internalized the fact that great-grandpa must not speak a lot of English. Recently I decided to expand my knowledge and got in touch with a sicilian relative and planned a trip during my in-between-semesters break to Palermo and Partinico – the city that my great-grandfather came from and where most of the family still lives.

Fiorella and I touring Palermo

Partinico is about 35 km southwest of Palermo and much smaller of course. My cousin Fiorella graciously hosted me in her house and was so welcoming and helpful. I will be forever grateful for her hospitality and the stories she shared with me about our family. She also forced me to speak quite a bit of Italian which was great practice for me. A friend of hers took us on a tour of Palermo for nearly an entire day which I didn’t expect but ended up really enjoying. She also took me around Partinico and showed me where my great-grandpa lived and where his sister had a jewelry store. It was a bit surreal to imagine but fascinating as well. Her brother is a fabulous cook and made me two wonderful sicilian dinners that rival even the cooking of my grandpa that I have so missed since he passed a few years ago. And her parents were equally welcoming and gave me a beautiful scarf to take home with me.

The inside of Cathedral Monreale was AMAZING

A glimpse of Partinico

Where my great-grandfather lived before he moved to the US

Unfortunately I was only able to spend 4 short days there and one of them I wasn’t feeling well but I will surely return some day. That day will likely be in the summer instead of the winter though – Sicily is one of those places that isn’t cold enough for good heating but not warm enough to not freeze your #$@ off in the winter. But I loved the mix of cliffs (that looked climbable!) and ocean. Beautiful scenery beautiful family. I WILL be back!

Pizza dinner with cousins Fiorella and Benedetto