Time for a Coffee

I’m not going to lie. My coffee consumption has increased since moving to Palermo.

I try to limit the number of coffees I have a day. During the week this is easy; one in the morning at home, then one during my lunch break at work. Basta.

The weekend is another story.

You see, wandering around the city, stopping off for coffee is one of my favourite activities.

Palermo has huge number of bars. When I first arrived here I though it strange that I was invited to a bar at 9 am by a friend. But I then realised that “bar’ in Sicily means a coffee bar.

Real Sicilians usually take their coffee standing up. They pay at the till, then go to the bar and order their espresso. I sometimes do this, but I admit that I prefer sitting outside and enjoying my coffee in a leisurely fashion watching the world go by. I can’t be Palermitana in all things!

A coffee in Palermo – and by coffee I mean an espresso or a macchiato – will set you back between €0.80 and €1.20, depending on the bar. You can choose from a stylish Belle-Epoque bar near Teatro Massimo, or a down-and-out hole in the wall near the station. Wherever you go the coffee is ace and will set you up for a day of exploring!

Duci!

“Che duci!”

This is something that you are bound to hear if you are ever in the proximity of a group of Sicilian adults with a baby. It is the Sicilian version of “dolce”, meaning sweet or cute.

It seems that many of my friends are having babies at the moment, and they are all, of course, duci!

This was a good starter word in Sicilian for me, as it isn’t too far from its Italian counterpart, and so I didn’t feel like a fraud using it.

A gateway Sicilian word, if you will.

So if you see a baby that is cute as a button, say “che duci” to the parents and watch them beam with pride!

Driving in Palermo

This is probably the first in a series of Driving in Palermo posts. It is a subject about which there is much to discuss.

Everything that people tell you about driving in Palermo is true. It is chaotic. Drivers don’t exactly follow the rules. Parking is atrocious. There is occasionally some pretty heavy traffic, and almost everyone is angry behind the wheel.

All that being said, I do love driving in this city.

Almost all the cars here are beaten up. I once was told that scratches and bumps on cars where called “Neapolitan kisses”, but I think that “Palermitan hugs” would be better. My car was in my care for barely a week before someone scratched it when trying to park next to it. Prissy car owners need not even bother here.

You don’t really need a car for a trip to Palermo, as you can get around fairly easily by foot. But many visitors have a rental car as they then go on to explore the rest of the island.

If you do choose to drive in Palermo, my advice is as follows:

  • stay calm
  • breathe
  • forget the highway code as you know it – driving here is more intuitive
  • keep your eyes open at all times, and if possibile grow another pair of eyes before signing the rental agreement
  • watch out for scooters
  • ignore the honks, shouting and swearing from other drivers

I tell you from experience that once you have completed your first journey in the car in Palermo you will feel on top of the world. So park the car as soon as you can and go and enjoy an aperitivo – you deserve it!

 

Hungry?

Don’t come to Palermo for Carbonara. Italian food as you might know it doesn’t exist here. Go to Rome for Carbonara, go to Bologna for Ragù and go to Liguria for pesto.  Trust me.

Do come here for food bursting with fish, vegetables and the occasional north african accent.

Food is the central theme to an evening. We are either eating, talking about what we just ate, or planning what we will eat tomorrow. The classics are sacred, although everyone has their own way of doing things.

In restaurants, Sicilian food prevails. Caponata, cous cous, pasta alla norma, cannoli, panelle, arancine. Each has its history and each has its charm.

Come to Palermo and try it – you won’t be disappointed.