Our Guided Tour of Palermo

The construction of the Palermo cathedral began in 1168, but the project was underfunded so the construction dragged on for centuries. As each new ruling power took control of Palermo, the cathedral was modified and expanded using the architectural style of the period. While the cathedral was striking from the outside, it was relatively plain on the inside compared to other churches in town,

Most of the residential buildings do not have elevators, but they do have balconies for each apartment.If a resident wants to make a purchase from a street vendor, she lowers a basket on a rope with the appropriate payment and the vendor places the purchase in the basket. The cloth at the bottom of the railing is to hide the legs of ladies wearing skirts.On a walk through the market, our guide, Laura, is showing us a variety of zucchini that is unique to Sicily.We stopped at a gelato shop where some of us tried a Sicilian treat, a brioche bun filled with three flavors of gelato. You could also get it topped with whipped cream. I didn’t want to ruin perfectly good gelato with a brioche bun, so I opted for a cup.

Sicily has a strong tradition of Puppetry. Before the internet, before television, and before cell phones, there were thirty puppet theaters in Palermo. After work you went to one to enjoy the show and also get the news. Each theater would have a Netflix like series of 100 to 300 different shows with a continuing storyline so you had to keep coming back until the conclusion.We visited one of the three remaining theaters that had been operated by the same family for three generations. The father and son shown here plus the son’s wife make the sets, the puppets, and the costumes as well as write the plays, and operate the puppets. The puppets are really marionettes controlled with a rod rather than strings. There is a strong puppet rivalry between Palermo and Catania (the next biggest city in Sicily) Palermo is very proud that their puppets can bend their legs to walk by turning the rod back and forth, can pull a sword from its sheath, and can be beheaded. The shows sound like they are rather violent!The puppets weigh at least 25 pounds, so operating them is good exercise. This was a fascinating introduction to a dying Sicily tradition.

On Thursday night we took a tour of Palermo in an APE taxi (a glorified tuk tuk) ending at our welcome dinner. I am sandwiched in between our trip leader, Laura, and Susan. The tuk tuks have no springs and the Palermo roads are full of pot holes, so it was a very bumpy ride.This is the second major theater in town. It is the home of the symphony orchestra. Tomorrow, we are visiting two towns close to Palermo.

3 thoughts on “Our Guided Tour of Palermo”

  1. I love the idea of lowering a basket from the balcony to a street vendor to make a purchase! I’d buy whatever came along just for fun!

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