We had to make the most of our limited time left in Palermo. Paul had a day off on our last weekend together, so even though we needed rest, we decided it was time for another quick day trip to explore the outskirts of Palermo, Sicily. Our destination was Mount Pellegrino. This mountain or hill is north of the city and takes a small bus to get to. We waited for the bus, expecting a large city bus, but we were greeted with a small van. We made our way to the back seats and sat next to another couple who spoke freakishly good English. They were ICU nurses in the states and traveling between contracts. They took a ferry over to Palermo, and had to leave later that day, so they were on a sight seeing mission while Paul and I took things at a bit slower pace.
The bus was winding up the mountain and after about a 45 minute ride, we reached the drop off point, which was a small collection of street shops and a sanctuary dedicated to Saint Rosalia, the patron saint of Palermo. We both splurged for a macchiato, to warm up before running to find the the church. The sanctuary was carved into the side of the mountain, so it was a bit difficult to determine if we were in the right place. After nosing around a bit, we definitely were. The small cavernous sanctuary was beautiful. There were tin funnels on the ceiling to catch all of the drops of rain, while the inside near the altar was quiet and serene. Locals and tourists came to pay their respects. It was a cozy little spot. Paul and I took the time to soak in the culture.
After our visit to Saint Rosalia, we wanted to climb higher to find the sprawling views of the city. We took the trek up the road and were able to look out on Palermo Harbor. The weather was beautiful, and soon we lost our early morning chill after a long hike. I was pretty excited with how well I was keeping up with Daddy long-legs – but I’m sure he slowed down for me! We went all the way up to the top, and found ourselves next to some large towers, and a lot of bird poop. At that point, it was time to turn around and head back down the hill. It was the perfect hike. We caught lunch at a shop and jumped back on the small van/bus down into the city.
Since we were out exploring, it was only fitting that we take another bus to a tourist beach that one of the previous residents who stayed in Palermo recommended. The other American couple also had the same idea, so we decided to navigate together. We caught another bus and were on our way to Mondello Beach. It definitely was not beach weather, even for Wisconsinites, but the views were worth the trip alone. Once we got there, we decided not to hike the hill, but instead walk around, take in some fresh air and grab a bite to eat.
Mondello Beach is definitely another place that I’m sure is crazy busy in the tourist season. There were carnival rides and street vendors and a variety of different restaurants. I was craving some pizza, so we poked our head in this tiny restaurant that was still serving their lunch special. We were the only two in the restaurant and had a great time watching the owner fire up their wood stove. During dinner, a religious parade went by the front of the restaurant, and we went outside with the owners to watch as they walked through. It was so fun to be the only people there. I ate all of the pizza and it was about time to call it an evening.
It was the perfect day trip and last tourist adventure before we had to leave and head back to the states. I know Paul was ready to sleep in his own bed. Leaving was bittersweet. We had a wonderful time abroad – if you have the opportunity – I would encourage you to take the leap of faith and go for it!!