The first time I saw someone walking down the street in Palermo, eating ice cream in a bun, I thought, "What a weirdo". The second time I saw it, I thought, "Is this some sort of crazy Sicilian specialty?" The third time I saw it, I thought, "That looks delicious". And the fourth time I saw someone eating ice cream in a bun, it was because I spotted my own blissful reflection in a storefront window.
Tucked into a small plaza just south of the Corso Vittoro Emanuele is the church of San Francesco d'Assisi. Originally built in 1260, the church has undergone many transformations in its 750 years, and still plays an important role in Palermo's religious life.
Near Palermo's Quattro Canti is the Church of Santa Caterina, whose modest exterior belies the Baroque magnificence waiting inside. Construction on the church began in 1566, but the interior decoration dates from the 17th and 18th centuries, when Baroque was at its height, and the Catholic church was encouraging intricate detail and emotional themes.
Palermo, at least the port-side Vucciria where we lived, is loud. There were times I couldn't believe the noise. Music was played at incredible volumes by our neighbors, including the 6-year-old below us who danced every night on his balcony in his underwear. People, standing close enough to kiss, shout at each other, because that's just the way they talk. Perhaps they're going deaf. That's it, first impression #1: People in Palermo are going deaf.
North of the Piazza Verdi, the impossible alleys and medieval monuments of Old Palermo give way to New Palermo, which feels like an entirely different city. Modern buildings, wide streets, usable sidewalks, fashionable shops and trees. In the ancient center of Palermo, trees are rarity; our dog had to adjust to peeing on cement (she didn't seem to mind).
There are things in life which you shouldn't form an opinion on until after you've tried them. A new city, perhaps, or a job. Movies, acquaintances. Things that require familiarity before a sound judgment can be made. Arancine, however, do not fall into this category. As soon as I heard them described, I knew they'd be my new favorite food of all time. Didn't even need to taste one.