Pasta in Palermo

Before leaving our country inn in Realmonte, we managed some relaxing pool time (and they serve cake for breakfast!) and the hour and a half drive to Palermo was absolutely gorgeous. We were on a freeway most of the way and I wasn’t expecting it to be beautiful, but it was. Mountainous and hilly and fieldy and at times oceany. If the Vicar of Dibley had a Sicilian cousin, the aerial views of at the opening of her show would have been filmed there. Unfortunately we were driving fast and didn’t take time to stop for photos. But it was stunning.

Because I can be a very smart traveler (at least about some things) we dropped the car off at the airport in Palermo rather than at an in-town location. I don’t need the stress of driving in a southern Italian city where they traffic signs and markings are more suggestion than requirement. Plus, even in an American city there is something very freeing about getting rid of a rental car. So a taxi into to town and then one afternoon of seeing the sights and an evening of opera before heading home via Munich the next morning.

The cathedral is such a confection of Byzantine influence. It was fascinating to study.

And then it was time for some food. Italian food. After all the fancy food we had on the previous day, all I wanted was a giant plate of pasta. Our hotel directed us to a particular street for good, simple food. There were several al fresco opportunities there, but the one we chose had the most shade and the most empty tables. All the other spots trendy/cute/stylish and were hopping with people. It turned out to be the right decision.

I don’t know why thy Italians–even at a cheap restaurant–can serve the most amazing, red, flavorful tomatoes. Italian sun? Closer farm to market? Less agribusiness? A secret society of Templars? I would give my left earlobe to have more of this bruschetta (and please pronounce that ‘h’ as a ‘k’, your nonna, or someone’s nonna, will thank you).
I don’t really remember what was in my pasta. Some sort of light coating and then basil and red pepper flakes. It was so good. Easily my favorite plate of food in two weeks of vacation.
This, my friends, is how you sauce pasta. I almost never order pasta in restaurants outside of Italy because they tend to be over-sauced. Thankfully John couldn’t eat all of his.

That night we went to the opera. The Teatro Massimo is one of the great opera houses of Italy. Unfortunately, audiences in Southern Italy are, well, awful. Conversation behind me. A 12-year old who couldn’t keep still next to me. An old lady not only holding up her phone and taking a video, but she did it with her flash on. A man behind me humming a tune every so often (and it wasn’t necessarily the same tune as the one on stage. A woman behind me who felt the need to kick my seat every five minutes. I could go on and on, because the noise went on and on. It’s really too bad because the singing was fantastic. And to top it all off, the seats on the main floor are not raked very much if at all. Despite me being 6’2″ the head on the man in front of me blocked about 80% of what was happening on stage.  It was all a bit too much for me and we left at intermission. And lest you think the noisy crowd was an anomaly, a very similar thing happened to me at Teatro San Carlo in Naples in 2000.  The crowd up north at La Fenice in Venice was perfectly quiet. So there. Scientific proof.

2 thoughts on “Pasta in Palermo

  1. Michelle Ann July 30, 2018 / 12:05 pm

    Sounds as if you are having a fantastic holiday Thomas. I recently returned from holiday in Italy, and agree with you so much that the tomatoes taste a hundred times better than elsewhere. I also found the chicken tasted a lot more chickeny than at home, and this was in a cheap hotel. What on earth are we doing to our food?


  2. Carol O August 20, 2018 / 8:26 am

    Thanks for sharing such a fabulous trip with us. The photos are fantastic and your blog makes them come alive.


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