Hot and spicy in Sicily

Trip Start Mar 15, 2006
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Trip End Dec 20, 2006


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Sunday, May 21, 2006

After a couple of months of Italian classes I was starting to get itchy feet again. The apartment had been lovely- so nice to have a home base, a kitchen, a washing machine and a chance to spread out. Gemma and Subana were in town, so we celebrated with my housemates on Thursday night before I flew out on Friday.
Almost as soon as I left I started to have second thoughts. First there was the bus strike in Florence, then strong winds at the airport meaning the flight was delayed by 3 hours, and then when I arrived in palermo late at night the train got stuck in a tunnel and all the lights went out! And there were some very dodgy characters on the train!
Anyway, I love Palermo. Itās such a mix of cultures and architectural styles- Moorish, Norman, Spanish Baroque, itās all here. Much of it is in a poor state of repair, and the city certainly feels like it has seen better days.
I enjoyed walking around the Balero market (or being jostled, I should say!), where I saw produce I have not seen before- from snails, to extra long zuchini (up to 1.5 metres!), Tunisian eggplants (round like a soccerball), and massive tuna being cut up on the street.
And I have never heard anything like the screaming coming from the vendors (I took a video, but not sure if this computer can handle it, so I may upload it later). I bought some yummy fruit.
Today I went out to the Capucine catacombs. It was one of the scariest things I have done in my life, about equivalent to being locked in the anatomy dissection room at night on the scale of scariness! It was basically an underground chamber filled with preserved bodies from the 18th century. And it seemed the class system was still present, even after death, as there were seperated aisles for priests, virgins, people who were professionals, and babies. SOme were dressed in their finest clothes (1800ās styles), and others in hessian. I was the only person in the place, and it was absolutely silent. Some of the bodies still had skin, and eyeballs, moustaches even. I would get a fright each time a particularly well preseved one would catch my eye, as they each had their own expressions! Particularly disturbing was the childrenās section, where they looked like little dolls. Just as I was about to panic, imagining a nightmare come to life with the bodies falling from the walls and chasing me a tour group came in, which was a relief, and I quickly made my exit!
In a couple of hours I am catching the hydrofoil to Lipari, in the Aeolian islands, then on to Stromboli, where I will climb the active volcano.
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