Our last Panini
Trip Start Oct 24, 2010
51Trip End Jan 16, 2011
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Where I stayed
Hotel Ariston Palermo
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Read my review - 5/5 stars
We were pleased with the Hotel Ariston, The manager Giuseppe was very helpful with maps, and guidance to sights and eateries. The Wi-Fi actually worked as advertised! I could sit in my room and access the net. The hotel itself was close to the rental car drop off and 2 blocks from the bus that would be taking us to the airport in two days. We spent our first part of the day at the self service laundry mat, and the afternoon I caught up on my blog. It was really nice to have all clean clothes again.
Somewhere along the trail I had asked a hotel staff member if there was a subway in Palermo
We spent the next day visiting an old cathedral, at first we found it closed by yet another student protest, but later we managed to get in. The Main chamber had a brass line that ran diagonally across the floor. At regular intervals, there were zodiac symbols inlaid in the marble floor. The buildings designer had left an opening in the church ceiling. The light from the opening would cast a spot of light on the floor. As the year progressed and the earth tilted on it's axis, the spot would move across the floor. I shot a few photos of this zodiac floor and will include the pics.
We visited the Fontana Pretoria fountain, built in 1573. Once it was installed in the city, the fragrant nudity of the nymph statues proved to be too much for the Sicilian Church goers, who dubbed the Fountain as " The Fountain of Shame."
My blog has noted the strategic position this country has held, and the power struggles here over the centuries. It was not always ancient history when the struggles played out here. During WWII, in July of 1943, the Allies invaded Sicily with Operation Husky, and two months later Operation Avalanche was launched to invade the Italian mainland south of Salerno
I must admit, that as we prepare to leave Italy, I am getting a bit nostalgic. While it will be some time before I order a Panini sandwich again, I know I will miss the coffee here. They make the best coffee in the world here. From the fancy shops with $5,000 dollar coffee makers to the small shops and railway stations, it has been a consistently great Cappuccino Heaven. I think it was here that the idea for Starbucks came into being. Then it went global.
I am going to miss these people. We have so many funny and friendly encounters with them. Frequently people would ask us "Where are you from? " We would reply "America". Every time they would smile in surprise and many would say something like. " I lived five years in Chicago!", "My brother lives in Los Angeles" ,and the laundry-mat lady said she had lived 12 years in Boston. Every time they were pleased to see us, and It felt really good. I became very aware of how close our countries have become as a result of these waves of immigration many years ago.
I want to recall one funny scenario that happened to me in Rome
The morning we left town for our flight to Milan with connections to Paris, we stopped by a favorite shop called Bacco. The owner Sandro was just opening up. He had made us a terrific pork sandwich the night before. I took a couple photos of him and his shop. He too has brothers and a father in Chicago. He has a wife and son here.
We walked on to a fancy coffee shop named Spannato. We parked our bags and ordered two coffees. We were a bit out of place. The locals were well dressed and ordering fantastic pies and cakes to go was well as their morning Java. The owner was in charge of this operation, which has been in business since 1860. He was dressed in an impeccably tailored Italian suit and was running an expresso machine that cost more than most people pay for a car. He was blur behind the counter, making cafes or many types. He was grinding, packing, loading and cleaning all at the same time he was sending verbal orders out to his team of servers. It was like watching ballet. Pounding, spinning, pointing, ordering, no wasted effort! A real performance in a $500 dollar suit! He made coffee making into a performance art form. I wish I could have taken a time lapse movie of the scene. While the delicious pies and cakes passed by, Barb and in watched in amazement. We were watching our euros and were only having coffee. The owner asked where we were from and where we had been in Italy. We told him we were Americans and gave him the 6 week synopsis. As one beautiful Pistachio Cheese cake passed by, Barb said "Look at that one!", It was a green dreamy cheesecake. It 's edges were covered in crushed pistachios, and had a light green glace' on top. We were just finishing our coffee Americanos and about to leave. Then a nice slice of the green beauty was hand delivered by the owner to us at no charge....Can you believe these guys? The cheesecake `was out of this world. It was fabulous. If you are ever in Palermo, check out Spannato near the Theater in town center! After savoring the culinary art of this Palermo institution, I did manage to take a few stills of the owner and his shop.
We headed to the airport as we are flying to Milan today, then on to Paris later this evening. We need to be in Paris tomorrow PM to hook up with our free ticket to Cairo. Reports are for some bad weather in Paris...... Stay Tuned.