By Katherine DeVito, Fashion Merchandising and Management student
One of the many reasons that I chose to come to Italy is because it’s where my family is from. Although I wasn’t able to go to my family’s tiny town of Santa Margherita di Belice in southern Sicily, I spent a few days in Palermo, which gave me what I was looking for. To my surprise, Sicily is covered in palm trees, but after all it is an island in the Mediterranean. Sicily is exactly like what it is in the movies- happy people singing while working or just walking around, and huge outdoor markets every few blocks with fresh meat, fish, and vegetables. The energy that came from the Sicilians was contagious, making my experience even better.
On my first day in Palermo, I went to the famous Piazza Pretoria (also known as the Square of Shame), the Palermo Cathedral, Teatro Massimo, and one of the many street food markets. All of these sights were beautiful and definitely fit the tropical vibe of Sicily. I would have to say though that the food market was my favorite part of the day. Here, I tried the traditional Sicilian “Arancina”, which is essentially a rice ball with peas and beef inside. While at the food market, we saw a wide variety of fish, as that’s what they’re known for in Sicily, along with a plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables.
On my second day in Sicily, I decided to take a half hour train ride to a coastal town called Cefalu. Here, I spent the day at the beach and wandering around the small, steep town. After some swimming and sun bathing, I got another Sicilian specialty, “Pan e panelle”, which is fried chickpeas on a bun. As strange as it sounds, it was actually really good! After this, I got “Granita” to cool off, which is the Italian version of a slushy. This concluded our day in Cefalu, so we returned to Palermo to get some dinner.
On my last day in Sicily, we went to Mondello Beach, Palermo’s only swimmable beach. Modello beach was breathtaking and reminded me so much of the Bahamas. After a few hours of more swimming and sunbathing here, we headed to get some cannolis, which are also another Sicilian specialty. These cannolis were unlike any other I’ve ever had, as the shell was thin and crispy and the filling was sweet but not too sweet. After finishing our cannolis, we headed to a different food market to walk around and get some lunch. Of course, I had to get Sicilian pizza, as I wasn’t letting myself leave until I did. After having a great day with lots of great food, it was time to head back to Florence.
Sicily is by far my favorite place in Italy, as it wasn’t catered to tourists, but locals embrace tourists and show them how they live. I’ve encountered the happiest people in Palermo, and definitely need to return someday to explore the rest of Sicily!