This is how Jubair (Abu Hussain Mohammed bin Ahmad bin Jubayr al-Kenani) a noted Arab geographer described Palermo in 1185 AD when he passed through the city.
“It is the metropolis of these islands, combining the benefits of wealth and splendor, having all that one could wish of beauty; real or apparent, and all the needs of subsistence, mature and fresh. It is an ancient and elegant city, magnificent and gracious, and seductive to look upon. Proudly set between its open spaces and fields filled with gardens, with broad road and streets, it dazzles the eyes with its perfection. It is a wonderful place, built in the Cordoba style, entirely from cut stone known as kadhan (limestone). A river splits the town, and four springs gush in its suburbs. The Christian women of this city follow the fashion of Muslim women, are fluent of speech, wrap their cloaks about them and are veiled.”
My Palermo description
For walking, the narrow back streets and Plazas were the most comfortable and interesting. It was easy to travel avoiding the busy streets. It is an old city and for me part of the beauty is the stories one can imagine here. The architecture speaks, the history here is like a wonderful food for the imagination. Not to mention the wonderful food we enjoyed while visiting. Only four days here and it seemed like my kind of place. I think of it as I would Paris, history everywhere. The churches that were Mosques or Mosques that became churches, or Synagogues that became churches. You could spend a lot of time just studying the history of the places of worship in this city and how have they changed over time.
The street signs in Arabic, Hebrew and Italian speak to that time when Muslims, Christians and Jews lived peacefully together in the same city (1050 – 1250 AD) during the rule of the Normans, the golden age when Palermo was the second largest city in Europe.
We didn’t see fast food chains in Sicily. There were fancy and simple restaurants everywhere. One night Gabriela and I walked through the streets and saw countless places to eat. We wondered if anyone cooked at home. I love the fact that food and how it is eaten is so important there. This rings some bell in my DNA. I am totally on board with the importance of food, how it is eaten always have been. It is important to me. Food is how I share my love, I try to make good food for people I care about.
Here is the Palermo slideshow: http://hosting.soundslides.com/1cjs6