Postcards from the city at the edge of the island.

This place is ancient. Countless generations lived here; even more passed through. Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans. Then Vandals, Goths, the Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Spaniards. Germans and the Allied forces. All left a piece, a memento of their passage.

This is a city of convoluted alleys and of buildings in constant state of flux. A wing is refurbished while the other crumbles into a mouldy heap. A new window opens up in a decrepit wall. A fresh lick of paint over rusty iron.
This is also a place where old and new clash together in a deafening clangour, yielding results that satisfy no one. A city where the perfume of pastries just pulled from the oven fist-fight with the stink of horse piss. A city both filthy and spotless. A city where Brobdingnagian monstrosities tower above the old town like space invaders.
This is a place of contradictions, where street signs promise 40-day relief from sin in exchange for a prayer. This is a place intriguing, maddening, fascinating and frustrating at the same time.
This is Palermo.
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14 Responses to Postcards from the city at the edge of the island.

  1. I love how you use these contradictions to paint a vivid picture of Palermo, Fabrizio. It sounds like a fascinating place with layers and layers of stories to tell.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. With November and the miserable possibility of 4 more years of horror here in the US, I’ve been obsessively researching possible places to live in Italy – housing so much less than US, healthcare – and life-grace! (lived and gave birth in Puglia in 1995 – so I had small taste) Love this glimpse of Palermo and will read up on it. Would you move back and where to?

    Liked by 1 person

    • awtytravels says:

      Hey Tricia, thanks for reading. I know, I’m bracing for more shite to come in November (especially environmentally-wise).
      Moving back… would I? Right now, no. I lived in Italy 3/4 of my life and I’d like to live someplace else before considering to go there again. Where would I move if I were to go back? Hmmm tricky question. I’m a northerner so part of me would be irrationally attached to the mountains. If that wasn’t an option I’d say that bit of Tuscany south of Siena, between Val d’Orcia and the Thyrrenian coast. Yes, something like that.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I-DAVE says:

    That’s funny, I was just considering to take a few days off to Palermo (no joking)! To be fairly honest with you, Trapani was leading the pack, but without direct flights… (is HE reading your blog?)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dave Ply says:

    Is there an Italian word for “eclectic”?


  5. Bama says:

    I’m particularly intrigued by the second photo: those metal cables supporting what seems to be an old and dilapidating building for some reason makes me think of Italy itself — or at least according to my own perception of the country based on what I read. An old nation, with cracks here and there, who somehow still manages to survive up to this day with the support of those who think keeping it intact is better than letting it crumble.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. J.D. Riso says:

    The images remind me of Valletta in Malta, not so far away. Those Mediterranean islands have always been crossroads. So much intricate history. Was this a recent trip? If so, congrats on being able to travel again. Hope all is well with you, Fabrizio.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love that the window is bordered up with bricks! Well not love if I lived there I guess, but I see your contradiction. Just started reading your book. It’s a great read so far. Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

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