It only took 24 hours to fall in love with Palermo!
We slept among the rooftops in a sweet little room in the historic center on the main drag. The sunny morning invited sitting on the balcony and enjoying all that could be taken in with both eyes and ears: the contrasting colors and patterns of the roof tiles, domes, spires, clouds. The morning noises seeping through shuttered windows across the street, almost close enough to touch, hiding what I imagined to be narrow apartments filled with families just waking up to enjoy their Sunday mornings. The tinkling of church bells chiming the hour, reminding us it was time to make our way down to street level so we could continue our adventure on foot.
We stopped and lingered at the gorgeous Quattro Canti intersection: four colonnaded facades that make you stop and stare, craning your neck upwards to take it all in. The Palermo marathon happened to be in full swing that morning, so the streets were closed to traffic and we witnessed the first place runner zipping through this beautiful landmark.
Then we were back in Piazza Marina, where we had spent time the day before visiting the Museo delle Marionette. Here we were inspired by puppets from around the world and also experienced an innovative and entertaining live performance of The Three Bears by a pair of Russian puppeteers in Russian with subtitles projected in Italian, more NYC than Sicily I couldn't help but think. Back to our stroll and the enthralling contrast of still standing, barely still standing, and partially destroyed buildings jumbled together in the ancient neighborhood of Kalsa where we visited an unfinished church (Santa Maria Dello Spasimo), roofless and open to the elements, and the perfect home for a lonesome tree.
And then we reached the long-awaited destination (especially for the 7 year old). The Botanical Gardens in Palermo is huge for Sicilian standards and invites aimless wanderings along its many paths, some wide and majestic, others overgrown and meandering, as well as peeks into greenhouses and free standing Grecian inspired buildings that house mini museums. The Palm House was my favorite with its exhibit about everything related to palm trees. Palm inspired contemporary art works. Glass vitrines filled with botanical specimens and objects of all kinds made with parts of palm trees. Not only did we love the plants and trees, but also the lizards and birds (even parrots!) that call this place their home.
It was hard to leave the luscious greenery of the Botanical Gardens, but we still had to visit the touristic port and enjoy the big blue sea to make our brief yet enjoyable visit complete and there it was, the perfect spot for climbing on rocks and romping on the open grass in the sea side park before saying goodbye to my new favorite city in Sicily.
This post was originally published on Lost In Sicily.