06 November 2009

Shangai Restaurant, Polermo Italy

Piazza San Marco, Polermo Tree

Polermo Market

Polermo Father and Son

Palermo Narrow Street

St. Johns of the Hermits, Polermo, Italy

Polermo, Sicily

Polermo, Sicily fit the Italian image that I have always seen in the movies.  Narrow streets, a beautiful sea, people talking in the streets and the best food one can imagine.  Compared to the Northern part of Italy, the people are friendly and even smile!  They are patient with your attempt at Italian and listen as though they understand you, even though they may not.  After landing at the airport, it was easy to take a bus into the center.  Along the way, I was informed at the exact place where the famous judge "Giovanni Falcone" was killed by the Mafia, who was fighting against Mafia crime...which by the way is everywhere in Italy and that is not a joke.
     While I was walking down the Polermo streets, I would imagine corruption going on everywhere.  I noticed how the local women would wear their purses under their coats.  I can imagine that I lived there for a while, I would feel the undercurrent of tension that exists for the locals.
     Rumors are:  that every shop, has to pay some money to the Mafia, for "protection" to keep the shop open, not get burned to the ground, and the owner alive.  Compared to Florence, the laws do not seem to be inforced.  I roamed the streets for five days, and only saw three policemen walking together.  I stopped and asked them for directions, and they were very nice.  Otherwise, I did not even see a police car, not a one.  Yet, you do not see any violence or strangeness going on in the city.
     People park their cars where they want to, on the sidewalk for example or in the road.  Motorcycles drive down the sidewalks when the traffic is bad, which seemed like all day long.  They are not very organized and there are many cars.  In fact more cars than motorcycles, unlike Florence.
     The prices were about 1/2 of what they are in Florence.  I could buy a nice sweet and a coffee for 2 Euros.  I purchased a to die for fresh grilled fish dinner for about 20 us dollars, including wine, water, and a side dish.  My hotel room was only 30 Euros, a private room with its own bath, tv and a terrace including breakfast.  Not bad!
      My first hotel was near the bus and train station, and it is not a really desired area.  It never is in Italy.  However, one block from my hotel, was a more "desired" area, clean, quiet and with nice shops.  Along the street near the station, I saw tons of Chinese Stores selling clothes and furniture.  I needed a winter coat and went inside to see what they had.  The woman said that they only sell in large quantities.  My mind went whirling to the story of Gamorrah, the Italian Mafia in Naples (Napoli).  "Oh, this is where the smuggled goods come to", I thought.  I imagined tons of items inside of the shipping boxes getting unloaded with cranes, and moved to another boat for Sicily.  Only a block away from the wholesale shops, were the nicer shops, selling exactly what the wholesale shops were selling but at about four times the amount.
     I found a store, that had good prices for decent products.  I purchased a long winter coat, with a hood and the nice "fur" along the sides for 40 Euros!  When I came back to Florence, the same coat was 180 Euros.  Wow.  The same coat.