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Last Solo Flight

Yesterday, I completed my last solo vacation here in Italy. Palermo, located way down south in Sicilia, was the furthest and final destination on my “bucket list”. I feel that Palermo truly represents the historic and modern cultures of Sicilia and sincerely suggest a visit to any tourist.

Here are some of the most noteworthy and photogenic things I had the opportunity to see.

Il Teatro Massimo is europe’s third largest opera house (exterior pictured above). I watched three Soiree Roland ballets: Le Jeune Homme et la Mort, L’Arlésienne, and La Mer, which were all accompanied by a live orchestra. The main drawback was that Italian culture doesn’t prescribe behavior for cultural events. The house was full of chatter and *gasp* flash photography.

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View from the box

I visited three famous oratorios – Oratorio del Rosario di San Domenica, Oratorio di San Lorenzo, and Oratorio di Santa Cita. These three are famous for the sculptures and interior design done by Giacomo Serpotto. Baroque art tends to be highly detailed and has a transformative quality of simple, small spaces like an oratorio. That being said, I’ve never seen those qualities as expertly executed as in Santa Cita.

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Oratorio di Santa Cita

I’m going to start the following section with this statement: Palermo is very safe. But that doesn’t mean the people aren’t still fighting the Mafia’s presence and influence. The pizzo, or Mafia tax, is still being levied against most businesses. To combat this, the Addiopizzo foundation was formed to bring support to businesses that refuse to pay the pizzo. This cool bar proudly displays their membership to Addiopizzo.

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Nearby Mondello Beach shows off the bluest Mediterranean water, mountains, and wildfires of Sicilia. These wildfires are actually the work of arsonists (Mafia) and have spread throughout northern Sicilia. Though I got to enjoyed the beach, other’s were being evacuated from their homes.

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Sunbathers and wildfires

I truly enjoyed my time in Palermo and could keep writing for quite a while longer. But I need quit and wash dishes. Please enjoy the rest of my photos!

Palermo’s open air fish market shows off some of Sicilia’s handsomer bottom feeders.

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The meat is actually red. Delicious!

Orto Bontanico di Palermo is the city’s botanical garden.

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Water lilies!

Cappella Palatina – byzantine chapel

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“We are Climbing Jacob’s ladder”

Palazzo dei Normanni – former palace of Sicilian kings, former seat of Sicilian Parliment, and now home of the Sicilian Regional Assembly.

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Fancy paintings and chandeliers

“Hi, Grammy!”

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A Day in Marche

Marche is the region next to door to Umbria. Like Bari, Marche is bordered by the Adriatic Sea. So this Saturday, my friend from Arezzo and I spent the day in Portonovo and Ancona.

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We have arrived!!

Perugia was rainy and grey while the beach was less grey. We braved the cold water, ate bread and meat with a good beer, and fell asleep on the beach. I never thought I would reach that point in life when a good day is defined by a good nap.

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Il Monumento ai Caduti

After the the beaches of Portonovo we got back in the car and went to Ancona. Ancona is a big port city, so the water isn’t as clean or the beaches as scenic. But built on the cliffs is Il Monumento ai Caduti. The Monument to the Fallen commemorates the life of soldiers who died in combat. Below the monument are stairs leading to palazzos facing the wide, open sea.

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This place needs thematic music

This past week I’ve been saying good-bye. I’ve been making an effort to see several friends one last time before I leave. Admittedly, I cried when I got home after the day in Ancona. I leave Italy in just a few weeks. I can’t wait to come home, but there are so many people I’m going to miss.

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Ancona city center

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Puglia for the Weekend

This past weekend I went way down south. My goals were to spend time on the beach, eat seafood, and see some history. Not only did I accomplish those goals but I also got sunburnt and covered in mosquito bites! Nothing says summer like sun, sand, and red itchy skin.

I spent most of my weekend in Bari, but took a day trip to see the sites of Lecce. The above picture is of the Porta Napoli. Besides a big gate, Lecce is the home of several Baroque cathedrals and two roman amphitheaters.

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Monopoli Beach

I stayed at a hostel in Bari that provided tours to Monopoli, Polignano a Mare, and Alberbello. Though the water in Monopoli was a little cold for swimming, it was most certainly the clearest water I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ve never seen anything so blue.

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Trulli Houses in Alberbello

The district of Alberbello where all the Trulli houses are located is a UNESCO world heritage site. These distinct houses were built in 1400 and are still homes and shops today. Some of the cones are painted with pagan symbols that were later incorporated into the Catholic faith with the spread of Christianity. These symbols are doves, crosses, and pierced hearts.

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The Beach of Polignano a Mare

Polignano a Mare is a beautiful, whitewashed town surrounded by the Adriatic Sea. The most famous location in Polignano is a restaurant built into a cave overlooking the sea. It’s famous for a few reasons, like the view, but mostly because a reservation costs ninety five euros per person. Needless to say, I didn’t get to go inside.

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Bari itself is a relatively small city full of fishermen and tourists. I bravely ate raw octopus, calamari, mussels, and clams. I liked all of them, but certainly prefer them battered and fried. You can put the American in Italy, but can’t expect them to want anything but fried butter!

Now that I’m only a month from coming home, I was glad that I had the time to visit Bari. The Baresi people would tell me that after five months in Italy, and speaking with at least a certain level of fluency, that I’m practically Italian. I don’t quite believe them, I’m still a little unsure about men in speedos, but I certainly know how to take a compliment.