PALERMO

There are many fine palm trees in Palermo, which I guess the Italian people planted when they discovered the name of the town. Not many people know that Palermo is an anagram of Opera ML and you can see the consequences of that.
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After the ruritanian idyll and picturesque charm of Ischia, Palermo in Sicilia is an excellent place to go see the bomb damage and grime of World War 2.  Few places have preserved the shell craters and bullet holes and encrusted grime of 70 years as well as Palermo.  Berlin, Birmingham, Beijing, Beirut  & Bosnia have all rebuilt & renovated their war-damaged buildings entirely since the end of hostilities, but they all begin with a “B” and there is no B in Palermo.  Perhaps there is a special explanation.

There is a nice piazza called Verdi, where by coincidence there was a very large theatre opera house for the composer to put on his masterpieces, there is Politeama Square, which is for kids to skateboard and play football.  There are several things related to Garibaldi; I think they are about the biscuits, which Italian ladies like very much.

Sicilia is the biggest island in the Meditarranean sea and so it is a fine place from which to control the whole region.  The Normans visited and they liked the place and built some doorways and windows with curved arches, not pointy ones.

The Saracens came too, but I already asked you about them. They are your homework assignment, to be handed-in tomorrow without fail.

Some Angevins passed through, but I have never even heard of them.  If you know anything at all about Angevins, for goodness sake – share, will you please.  

Italy was first unified as a country in 1860 by Garibaldi who had a King called Vittore Emmanuele.  Palermo has lots of little piazzas with statues of famous people and lots of traffic and narrow streets.  There is a large department bookshop and stationery store called Mondo Dori which has a good range of computers and tablets and telephones on the 2nd floor.   There are 300 sunny days every  year in Sicilia and 2000 saints’ & religious holidays and Festas days. But it can rain intermittently quite often and then there are big puddles at all the intersections and on the pavements, making it hard to walk along any street..  
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There is a very big church in Monreale built around 1200-1400.  The Normans were trying to design an airport with an indoor runway to get to heaven and to Canada, but the whole project regrettably went pear-shaped when the church got involved.  The rest of Monreale is a micro climate delight like that place North of Lisbon.  Warm breeze, perfect view of your ship coming in and plenty of time to put the kettle on for unexpected guests or to load the canon against immigrant invaders attempting a landing without visas.  

Go West from Palermo.  150kms or 2 hrs later you reach the end of Sicilia at Trapani.  The road is not quite motorway superstrada quality, but there are long fly¬overs on stilts and tunnels.  The land undulates quite steeply and in places has multifarious tiny plots covering the slopes, all cultivated with different produce.  

Vine, cabbage, yellow pearl melon, green melon, olives and then some much bigger fields of wheat or cereal, deeply ploughed.   

Trapani is a smart new port town built on a rectilinear grid. On the mountain top behind Trapani is the ancient town of Erice
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with 62 churches and convents and monasteries all down the high street.  It is a steep climb to go up all the way to the top of town.  There is a cable-car from the foot of the mountain but every year about 17 people fall out and die.  So we were not really very keen to do that.

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