48 HOURS IN PALERMO
Lizzie talks about her fleeting, but very enjoyable familiarisation trip to Palermo, Sicily.
In April I was very lucky to be invited on a familiarisation trip to Palermo, Sicily. April was particularly busy with bookings and the yachts launching for the season but I decided that such an opportunity shouldn’t be passed up. Due to the MYBA Charter Show in Barcelona being held immediately afterwards I had to make the trip only 48hours, but what a wonderful 48 hours they were.
I arrived into Palermo airport in the evening and it was already dark, one of the crew member’s of My Lotty met me and took me to the marina, the other brokers were already onboard and had been into Palermo that afternoon, they were just finishing a buffet that the 5 yachts had prepared full of Sicilian delights.
I was staying on Whale a 60ft catamaran, I am such a catamaran convert, I was very happy about this and after sampling some delights and being introduced to the Grillo Sicilian wine, I went to bed excited for the next couple of days.
Thursday morning the sun was shining and I went onboard Morgane for breakfast. I was greeted by Laura, who took me below decks and into the saloon for breakfast. Soft boiled eggs & avocado on toast was a great way to start the day. Yes, I was definitely glad I had accepted the invite.
Next it was back to Whale for a group chat with Marcella, she organises tailored excursions on the island, she talked us though the early history of the island and said if we wanted to talk about the Mafia that was a whole other story…… She talked about the 3 markets in Palermo, the street food, cookery lessons, local wine, visits to Etna and the Aeolian islands, I was amazed at how much there is on offer, well that’s providing you want to get off the boat!
We then went on our own excursion by car and round towards Trapani, we passed the salt ponds and went out to a museum on the island on Mozia by boat. Archaeology isn’t something I am overly interested in, there were various sites around the island that had been unearthed but when I saw the Greek marble statue that they discovered in the 1980s I was suddenly fascinated, this statue was incredible, but the only one they have found there and when they found it, the excitement on the island must have been buzzing. After a walk round the island and beautiful wild flowers we headed back on the boat to the car and back to Palermo.
In the evening we headed to Mondello, the closest Beach to the marina, the Terreza is a stunning old building you cross a bridge that takes you over the sea, there are changing rooms either side of the main building and stairs that are lowered for bathers to wander down into the sea. The water was so clear you could sea the fine white sand glowing through. The venue was stunning. For starter we had a warm octopus salad, tuna tartare and a vegetable salad with red prawn.
The first course was then the pasta, a homemade hula hoop style shape served with clams, courgette and fish eggs. There was a discussion about how al dente should al dente be, between myself, the Sicilians, the Turkish and the French, three of us all agreed it wasn’t how we ate our pasta at home but that’s what travelling is all about, learning about the local cuisines. The second course was a beautiful piece of sea bass wrapped around a large prawn with caponata, it was delicious. The dessert was a ricotta cheese cake with pear. We were provided different Sicilian wines with each course finishing with the Marsala wine from the region. Tired and full, we went to bed.
Friday morning I went to Tess for breakfast, this morning was warmer so we ate in the cockpit and enjoyed a beautiful fruit platter, cereals, yoghurt, fresh juice and hot fresh pastries. After breakfast we then headed up to the Grand Hotel Villa Igiea, the villa was restored by renowned Art Nouveau architect Ernesto Basile at the end of the 19th century for the Florio family, it still has it’s original frescoes, decoration and furniture, with beautiful gardens and a sea view, I felt like I wanted to stay.
Heading back to the marina it was time for the yacht Cocktail Competition, each yacht was asked to prepare and present a cocktail and canapés. This was a lot of fun as we yacht hopped down the dock and were presented with personalised cocktails named after the yachts, presented by the chefs and stewardesses. The passion fruit cocktail on Whale was my favourite and the salmon canapés on My Lotty were also a favourite. We then managed to find room for a small pasta dish, linguine with cherry tomatoes and fresh basil followed by salad.
After lunch we were taken to the Orto Botanical Gardens, we had a wonderful guide from California. It was a very interesting afternoon as we saw plants from all over the world that had been brought there for this wonderful display, some of the gardens were still in their original format from the 17th Century, with different sections added over the years, it was the most relaxing afternoon.
Unfortunately for me that was the end of my stay and I headed off to the airport before dinner while the others went into Palermo for more Sicilian delicacies. Palermo was a wonderful place to visit and I very much hope to go back there on holiday.