Sorrento to Palermo, Italy.

22 Jul 2019 – Monday. 

We left the mountains before and drove back North a little, to Sorrento where we finally managed to get some laundry done. We had some time to spare while our dirty clothes were getting washed and dried, so we picked up a few things at the supermarket where we’d parked the car, and also stopped by this fresh produce store. The cherries out front looked perfect and sweet! We tried some and bought 500g.

Inside, we found this long-ass pumpkin so pumpkin lover here had to stop for a picture.

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After our washing and drying were done, we loaded them back into the car and then grabbed some food to find a spot to eat. We wandered into the town centre, as was now the norm, and found that there was a public garden all the way at the end.

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It wasn’t particularly big, but it had the benches we needed, a nice view of the sea, and an additional view of the sunbathers far down below if we wanted to do some gawking.

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Digging into our fresh cherries, Flo picked out a bunch of three and was so excited about it he made me pose with the three cherries and our three babies.

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Perfect trio. Still perfect to us. 

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As you can see, right below were rows of umbrellas planted between sunbeds.

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There’s a lift that can take you down for a fee, otherwise it’s quite a walk down the stairs but probably no problem for active children. I suppose going down isn’t too problematic, I’d probably pay for the lift back up.

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Sorrento Wall Art – looks like the paint was a little drippy.

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Cute narrow streets flanked by shops and eateries.

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Flo and I made sure that we made time for our drive from Sorrento to Naples since traffic in Italy is often unpredictable and a 45min drive could turn into an hour and a half, as we learned over the two weeks we were already there.

Just as well we did! While getting to Naples wasn’t too exciting, we had a difficult time navigating to the port. And when we did, it wasn’t easy finding out what we had to do, where we were supposed to check in, and where the ‘queue’ was to await boarding.

One of the men organising the check-in refused to entertain us because the model of car we’d put on our booking was different to our rental car – at the time, we didn’t know yet which model the rental company was going to give us. He kept telling us to go to some place to get it changed and even then, wasn’t very helpful in pointing out where we were supposed to go.

Thankfully, his colleague was more helpful, waving him away and simply putting into his handheld device that we’d checked in. It took all of 3 minutes before we were sent in to queue up.

It took us another 30-40min before we could drive into the ferry that was to take us to Sicily.

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It was an overnight ferry so Flo booked us a cabin so that we could get some shut-eye. I didn’t expect it to be as nice as it was. Clean room, clean sheets, clean toilet.

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Romantic dinner for two by the window since we didn’t want to pay for ‘expensive, not-so-great ferry food’.

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We did have a wander around the ferry which provided some entertainment for families and children. There was a cinema (that you had to pay for), a playground, a small ‘mall’ that was really a shop…

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There was a bar lounge, a restaurant, and a cafeteria… As well as the outer decks where smokers gathered. And also where we managed to catch a glimpse of sunset.

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23 Jul 2019 – Tuesday.

6am, we were up and raring to go.

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Some Pan di Stelle for ‘breakfast’ while waiting to zoom out of the ferry and into Palermo, Sicily.

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It took us a while to get to our B&B because we realised it was situated within the ‘no entry’ zone for non-residents. So we had to park a 10-15min walk away, go to our B&B and get permission to drive in so we could unload our bags, and then drive back out of the zone to park again.

Before we returned for our luggage, we decided to have some food at this cafe just by the B&B… mostly because it was the only place opened so early in the morning.

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I had this Pistachio Cream Krapfen which was really more of a soft, chewy bun than a doughnut which I appreciated, while Flo had an Apple Danish.

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The bun was amply filled with the most luxurious, indulgent, smooth pistachio cream and even though at the time, I was trying to watch my sugar intake (y’know, gestational diabetes and all), I ended up polishing the entire thing off, cream and crumb!

Since our check-in time was around 2pm, Flo and I decided to have a walk around after we were done re-parking the car.

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Flo and I weren’t sure whether there’d be much to do in Palermo so we only planned a night there. I think we both really enjoyed walking the streets of Palermo and would love to spend more time there if and when we return to Sicily.

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It was still early so we decided to head first to Ballarò Market. There are a lot of Arab influences in Palermo and I felt a lot more comfy here than in Northern Italy. The mix of different ethnicities made the city feel so colourful and culturally rich.

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These markets, unlike the ones we visited in Modena and Florence, were more wet and less organised. Yet, there was a loudness that made everything feel so inviting.

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Round eggplants that looked like purple tomatoes – unlike anything we’ve seen before.

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Just at one of the entrances in front of the market was a cart selling Pane con la Milza – a sandwich filled with veal lung, trachea and spleen. Not quite our cup of tea but many locals were queuing up for it so probably worth a try for the adventurous.

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We walked some more, stopping at some of their must-see sites.

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There was an entire street closed off for pedestrians to mill around. We were recommended a lunch place by our B&B host but it was too early for lunch, so we went instead to the gelateria, Cappadonia, opposite that was also highlighted to us.

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Yoghurt and Stracciatella.

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You can’t go to Sicily and not have gelato. This one was rich, creamy and not-too-sweet.

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More walking finally brought us to Capo Market which dates all the way back to when Arabs ruled Palermo.

I found that in Sicily, people there were a lot warmer and a lot more excitable when it came to seeing a baby bump. Here in Capo Market, I was treated by a vendor to a Chickpea Fritter. I thought he was giving out free samples so I told Flo to take the first piece, and the guy went, “No” and insisted it was for me because “Baby”.

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We laughed and told him there were three. Shocked, but very happy, he congratulated us before proceeding to broadcast it to all the other vendors and customers within 12 feet of him.

Flo, fritterless, settled instead on some fresh Pomegranate juice.

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The market was filled with an assortment of everything, from dried fish to fresh fruit and vegetables.

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An array of spices, many of which were new to me were available.

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Similar to Ballarò Market, there was also lots of fish mongers selling fresh fish hauled in that very morning.

Since it was around lunch time, Flo and I picked a small eatery to have something to eat. Again, we were fawned over because of my belly and again, it was sent out that we were having triplets. I think it was in Sicily that I really learned to embrace my belly and feel proud to be growing life within me for the world to see. 

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I had the Seafood Salad because a lot of their fish dishes involved swordfish, unfortunately.

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And Flo tried Sfincione, which was somewhat like what you’d get if pizza and bread had a baby. This was more on the spongey side and is topped with a kind of tomato spread.

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Satisfied, we carried on with more walking, this time choosing to walk back towards the B&B because we were both getting tired from the early morning.

On the way back though, we stumbled upon this shop specialising entirely in Arancine called ke Palle. There were beautiful round risotto balls filled with ragu, cheese and ham, spinach and mozzarella, curry chicken, porcini mushrooms, four cheeses, salmon and squid ink… They even had dessert ones in the form of Nutella and Pistachio.

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There was a queue that moved quickly and Flo was interested in trying one, so we went for the Tomato, Almond and Basil. This was cooked upon order and unlike the other ones that had their fillings wrapped inside the rice, this was one holed out a little, and filled all the way until overflowing.

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I wasn’t expecting much, thinking the meat ones may have been a better choice, but the tomatoes were mind-blowingly sweet. The almonds gave some crunch and oddly, worked with the tomatoes and hint of refreshing basil. The arancino had a nice crust and a soft creaminess inside from the risotto rice.

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It was good but one tennis-ball sized arancino would have sufficed for lunch. In fact, Flo and I could have shared one for lunch and been quite full. Me at least. I believe many have this for a snack but we both, Flo especially having had most of it, found that it sat quite heavy in the stomach for a long time.

Or perhaps it was this Mandarin Granita he had after.

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Best granita I’ve tried. They even had Pistachio Granita which was fabulous too, but more creamy and less refreshing than the citrus ones – the girl managing the shop was happily doling out spoonfuls of as many flavours as we wanted to try, smiling at my belly all the while.

We finally got back to our B&B and checked into our room where we passed out a few hours. By the time we woke and washed it, it was around our dinner time. I did some research and we settled on Vecchio Trattoria da Toto was a short walk from where we were staying.

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Service was a little spotty and the guy who took our order seemed distracted when he did. Our starter, supposedly just marinated sardines, came with calamari and cured swordfish as well.

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We didn’t think much of it, and it was tasty, so we finished the sardines, Flo enjoyed the cured fish, and the calamari salad was ok.

My order of grilled prawns with calamari came as just prawns. They looked big and beautiful but their shells were sticky (read: not very fresh), and by the time they came off, the remaining meat was more the size of my pinky.

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Flo had a rather forgettable plate of pasta that came in a hefty portion. So altogether, it wasn’t quite the enjoyable dinner we had imagined. Further, they had charged us more for starter even though they had served us wrong, but we were agreeable seeing that we did finish off most of it. The prawns missing the calamari, they insisted they thought we’d ordered just prawns so topped it up with a couple more. After a lot of going back and forth, we paid and left.

Just to the side of where we had dined, there was a big square that had come to live with tables and chairs laid out, open-air bbq-ing of seafood going on, and live music. We could have eaten there but we weren’t sure about how fresh the seafood were. On hindsight, it might have been more fresh than the trattoria’s!

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We took a nice stroll post-dinner to the beachside, walking through areas of affluence, and areas that were poorer. Palermo’s definitely an interesting place to visit and I believe it has a lot more to offer than we managed to see, do and eat.

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Another day gone. Next morning, we were off to our final stop of our holiday – Catania.

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