Our final day in Palermo we slept in. We had enjoyed a long and leisurely dinner the night before and wanted to spend our last day indulging in gelato at the gelato festival.
Tony had picked up some more Sicilian goodies for breakfast and this one he found was out of this world. It is called a Raviola, and it’s like a sugar donut stuffed with sweet ricotta cheese and chocolate chips. With every bite we fell deeper and deeper into a food coma. The combination of the sugar crystals outside and creamy cheese inside was exceptional.
We then got dressed and ventured out into the city. We wanted gelato to follow our delicious breakfast but the festival hadn’t started yet for the day. As we continued along, through the city center, fate stepped in – we met Luigi.
This couldn’t have been more perfect than if I had planned it myself. A Sicilian Cart, like I had seen near our apartment, in action. And not only that, the driver was named LUIGI! My bisnonno’s name! I couldn’t help but think my own Luigi was smiling down from Heaven and playing a trick on me.
For 30 Euros we got an hour long tour of the city, complete with Sicilian music, a lively driver, and the assistance of the driver’s grandson to help take our photo. It was one of the coolest things ever – I could not stop smiling. I wanted to remember ever second because it was so special and made me feel like Sicily could be home, with Luigi my faux-bisnonno.
After the ride, we grabbed lunch and a coffee, and by then the gelato festival had started. Oh, this festival was made of dreams, I tell you. For only 6 Euros, I got 4 mini-cones and 2 cups of gelato at any stand I wanted. We had some big successes with pistachio and aztec chocolate, and some huge misses, like with parmesan cheese frozen with dry ice. Even thinking about the parmesan cheese one makes me want to gag again. Two mini-cones in, we thought we might need more tickets but realized after 6 helpings of gelato, with nibbles of each other’s along the way, we got full very quickly.
The night ended with a parade of the Madonna – where the locals, at 10pm at night, carried around a huge statue of the Virgin Mary. People walked alongside, paid their respects, and pinned euros to the cloth covering her. It helped explain why there were Christmas-like decorations surrounding the street we stayed on.
I was sad to go to sleep. I didn’t want it to end. Palermo had been such a spectacular visit, with elements that felt like I was visiting family, or going back home. I can’t wait to go back.
Next stop: Thessaloniki, Greece