Despite half my family being from there, I didn’t know much about Sicily. In previous adventures around Italy, I was told by a kindly old woman that Sicily was “full of robbers and thieves.” Another meaner old woman running an apartment saw my last name and said, “that’s a northern Italian name. You are not. Look at your face.” Then she berated for ten minutes for not knowing how to speak Italian.

My parents visited Sicily twenty years ago and my father had his bag stolen straight off the bus in Palermo. “Watch your bags at all times,” my mother told me. Multiple guidebooks and websites warned of the dodgy area around the train station. I was on high alert.

It turns out that Palermo is fucking delightful, a beautiful European city not yet overrun by the hordes of tourists that you find to the North. Sure, the train station has a little bit of a vibe around it. I was stalked by a sketchy character while trying to piece together train schedules. But when I finally confronted him, it turned out all he wanted to do was take me to a back alley for blowjobs, not rob me.

There’s tons of restaurants, a billion old churches, beaches, shopping, espresso, and street food, all with that Sicilian flavor. I stayed at a couple of hostels around town — the further away from the train station, the nicer they get. All in all, an ideal base of operations for my family discovery mission.

Food of the Day: Pani ca’Meusa
Palermo has its own sandwich, and it’s probably one of the most amazing concoctions I have ever tasted. I will freely admit that even writing the description makes me want to vomit a little bit, so I’ll let this website describe it:

Today on the streets of Palermo, we often eat our Pani ca’Meusa Maritata style. To make this street food delicacy, cow spleen, lung, and trachea are boiled. Then, right before the moment of eating, they are fried in pig lard, put on a bun, and sprinkled with ricotta and caciocavallo. Maritata means marriage. The idea is that the white cheese represents the bride and the dark colored meat represents the groom.

It makes for a happy marriage. In my mouth.

Random Photo of the Day

I came to Sicily by train. There’s no bridge connecting it to the mainland. What ends up happening is that they drive the train straight onto a boat and it ferries you over. My mind is still blown by this.