Palermo & Napoli

After a sea day travelling from Athens, we arrived at Palermo. Kath had booked a walking tour of the city with Francesca, a born and bread Palermo local who also happens to be writing a book on Sicilian food and wine, and just passed her sommelier’s test.  Francesca is a lovely lady who is passionate about her region and its offerings.

We are again spending the day with the Gallesio family, and being the kids first time in Italy, and the fact that they are taking Italian lessons, I was hoping to hear them speaking some of the local lingo. We started the tour off by locating a coffe for the adults and hot chocolate for the kids. It was at this point Rob discovered that his camera lens had detached from the camera in a not so good way. Not an easy fix, we loaned him a spare one which will see them through to the end of the cruise.

We stopped by the 3rd largest opera house in Europe on our way to a local street market. The market was amazing and had everything you could want and more. The fresh fish, meat, vegetables, fruit all looked amazing, we spent a fair bit of time here, tasting different things we’d never seen like wild strawberries, a local chocolate speciality that contains no sugar, a Sicilian fortified wine. All very yummy, it was hard to move on.

We did, however, and moved onto a large basilica that was part Roman and part Arabic looking. We went inside and had a look at an ancient sun dial that sees the sun shine through a tiny hole in the ceiling, down onto a long strip on the ground. At a certain time of the day, the small dot that shines on the ground will highlight a particular month of the year. More a “month of the year” sun dial that a “time of the day” version that most are familiar with.

From here we went over to the town hall area to a large fountain called the “fountain of shame”.  It was so called by local nuns after it was assembled. I use the word assembled as the entire thing used to sit in a large property in Tuscany and was cut into 300 pieces and moved to Palermo. It consists of a lot of nude statues, hence the fountain of shame moniker.

While we were standing here there was a gathering of local children and we were told about a dance that was about to be performed by the kids inside town hall. We decided to hang around to watch it and it was very cute. The kids in their provincial costumes, dancing about to a tune, with the creative director clapping loudly when each change was required. It was great to see.

From here we walked via another market where Lucas bought a selfie stick. If fake handbags and sunglasses aren’t enough, the street sellers these days have taken to selling selfie sticks on every street corner. Lucas was dying to get one so Rob eventually relented and Lucas was now in possession of the desired item. It came in handy though and we used it more than once.

We were getting a little peckish so Francesca recommended a place that she called a supermarket. We must have looked sceptical as she quickly said something along the lines of “I know you think I’m crazy, but bare with me”. The place is more like a grazing market/restaurant. When you go inside you are given a card, as you move about and ask for different freshly prepared local foods, they mark it on your card, like yum cha, and you pay on the way out. This includes, pizza, lasagne, cannoli’s, bottles of wine, you name it, everything in the store.

We sat down to a lunch of aranchini, baked spaghetti, pizza type things and the best cannoli ever! For Kath and I, including a bottle of wine we shared with everyone, it came to €16.50, and €6.50 of that was the wine. It’s was a great way to eat and a great experience for all.

From here Francesca left us and we were given directions to a gelato shop that serves traditional Sicilian gelato. This wasn’t too far from where we were so we headed there for a tasty treat. There were almost too many flavours and if he gelato wasn’t enough, you can top it off with a sauce of your liking.

From here we went to the post office to try and purchase a box to ship some of our thugs back to Oz. This proved to be difficult as even though the post office was amazingly large (photo below), they didn’t sell boxes and we were told to go to a different post office.

While we were there a lady from the cruise was trying to post a box of her own, when we asked he where she got it she said it was from a smaller post office, but while she was in line to send it, they decided to close for the day. It was 1pm 😐  This is just how things are in Italy. We gave up on the post office and decided to deal with it in Napoli.

The Gallesio’s needed to pick up some paracetamol so we stopped by the pharmacy. The fellow behind the counter looked like he was go into be all serious, but turned out to be a crack up. He was complementing Rob on his Italian, and as the other people in the store were Americans he commented on how he didn’t need to travel as he had the whole world in his shop.
He gave us some directions to a nice pizzeria so we went and had a second lunch. We asked for a table in the shades which is not common in Italy, and they made up a table for 8 just for us. We ordered drinks all round and 3 pizzas. We sat there for ages drinking, eating, taking selfies, it was a great spot. 
We finished off with a couple more cannoli’s and decided to head back to the ship. This afternoon we had drinks on the Gallesio’s balcony and watched as the ship sailed away from port.

The next day we were in Napoli and the Gallesio’s had booked a day trip to Pompeii and Sorento. We decided to go on the hunt for pizza, which comes from Napoli originally. I heard it was created for fishermen by their wives, and was originally a piece of bread, rolled up with a tomato sauce on it. They would take this out fishing and have it for lunch.
The reason a basic pizza with nothing on it except tomato paste is called a Marinara, is due to it being made for these Mariners. In Australia some pizza shops top a pizza with seafood and call it a Marinara, they shouldn’t be allowed to make pizza πŸ˜‰
On a side note, one of the things my mum made for us kids when we went fishing with dad was a sandwich with nothing but tomato sauce on it, coincidence?

However before we get to the pizza portion of this story, we need to talk about the continuation of yesterday’s Italy Post adventure. We departed the boat at around 9am in search of two things, a box to ship stuff in, and a post office to ship it from. Kath asked at the information booth, which was inside the port, and low and behold there was a post office just 30 meters away! Awesome!

Did I say awesome? I may have spoken too soon. We lined up to purchase a box, this took about 20 minutes. We had the stuff with us that we wanted to post however once we assembled the box, it was way too big for our stuff, so we need something to pad it out. I can’t remember if I’ve told this story but Gary and I had purchased a pair of suits in Australia of $50 each from a run out sale. I had planned to just leave mine behind as I had no room for it and it only cost $50, which is less than what suit hire would have cost for the opening gala event.

I decided to ship this home as it is actually a good suit and makes for a good box filler. So we took the boxes back to the rooms and filled them up with stuff. Then we needed a way to secure them and the 3 included pieces of sticky tape wasn’t going to cut it. We asked at reception and they were kind enough to provide us some masking tape that did the job. We also took this time to fill in he shipping label the best we could.

Ok we are all set, back to the post office we go, only to be told by another cruise guest that we’d need our passports in order to ship the box internationally, so another trip back through security and back into the ship to get a passport.

Back to the post office, and after another 20 minutes and €90 later we were all done, no passport required. One last trip back onto the ship to drop off the passport and we were all done. That whole process took just on 2 hours to complete, let’s hope the stuff actually arrives. Enough time wasting, were in Napoli and must try the pizza!

Kath had read about this top pizza place where you have to get a ticket and line up in order to get a table. This sounds like the place we should be eating to get the best Napoli pizza, so we wandered off into the streets to find our way there.

It was a little further than expected so we stopped off to have some street food which consisted of a wrapped paper with a selection of aranchini balls that you eat with a skewer, yummo!!!

We eventually located Antica Pizzeria Da Michele. As expected there were people standing out the front and we had to go in and get our ticket and then wait outside for our number to be called. Apparently sometimes they completely run out of dough and people are told to leave. It is very popular with tourists and locals alike.

We waited for about 30 minutes for our number to be called and proceeded inside to what is really a very basic shop with about 50 tables. The menu is very basic, there are 2 pizzas to chose from, the afore mentioned Marinara, and the Margherita which is loaded with two additional toppings, mozzarella and basil.

To our disappointment, the pizzas were not all that good. They were burnt on the bottom and crust, yet undercooked in the middle and soggy. I’m not sure if this is how they are meant to be, but I’ve eaten a number of times at a pizza restaurant in Melbounre run by a Napoli trained Pizza Chef and his are so much better than these. Maybe they were just having a bad day.

We were running out of time so we headed back to the ship and caugh up with the Gallesio’s again for sail away drinks. The highlight, or nightmare depending on which way you look at it, was Rob and Lucas feeding the seagulls that were following the ship as we departed. Once they worked out where the goods were coming from, they flew so close you could nearly touch them! Sharon was freaking out.

This was out last sail away with us arriving at Rome the next day and departing the ship first thing in the morning to begin the land portion of our holiday and bid farewell to our travelling companions the Gallesio family.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *