The little surprises of Sicilia – Part II

gosh i’d better start getting down to write this before i procrastinate any longer!!! haha i guess this is the bad thing about splitting up my posts :p always lazy zzz. too many things to do here! xP balancing travelling plus studying and all the other random stuff like cooking and laundry just takes up all of my time here haha. on the bright side, i just completed my 6000 word essay! *o/* in THREE days. am i a pro or what? ;) haha kidding. i haven’t proof-read it yet though :p not really looking forward to that…zzz. anyway!
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our first stop in Palermo was Trattoria Rosa Nero, recommended to us by our awesome host! (: oh gosh, that reminds me, i’m gonna do a consolidated post on all my airbnb experiences :) i think it’s a really good avenue for accommodation options! it’s not that expensive (surprisingly!) especially if you have quite a few people sharing, you can even get a whole apartment for a really affordable price and it gives you a lot of privacy and flexibility. alternatively, staying with a host is a great way to know the city better as well :)
trattoria rosa nero is a little tavern that is slightly hidden in a small-ish alley. our host warned us that we would be a little stunned when we went there, because of it’s off-the-road kind of appearance. but don’t worry, it’s not that bad! i expected a really hole in the wall, dark tavern, but it turned out to be quite cosy! see pic above^^ the service there is quite friendly! (: we had a list of foods recommended to us by our host and they whisked it out of our hands and just helped us to order haha. the good thing about Sicily (as compared to our other holidays in italy so far, INCLUDING MILAN), is that quite a few people seem to speak english! at least basic english, so it’s much easier to communicate with them.
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love how they always serve bread before our meals in italy! at least MOST of the time they do. haha (see below for a bad example :x). my carbs intake has shot up terribly since i got here >.< but i just can't resist these breads :p too yummy! ^^ the specialty in sicily seems to be bread with sesame seeds! and i love it!!!! their bread here doesnt usually come with olive oil and vinegar like what we're used to in singapore, but it's pretty tasty on its own (:
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the appetizers our host recommended were sarde a beccafico, caponata and bruschetta con ricci. in the end, the one we got was the caponata (so i’m not really sure what the other two are :/ but ‘sarde’ means sardines, and ‘bruschetta’ is like a toasted piece of baguette with some kind of topping), and omg i LOVED IT!!!!! it was eggplant! (: haven’t had that since i’ve come here, and omg it was sooooo good :’) totally reminded me of the sambal eggplant in singapore haha. although not spicy, but the way it was stewed till so tender and tender, with some sort of fish with it – so yummy!!
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the two pastas we tried were pasta con sarde and pasta con broccoli. they kinda looked the same (because my pasta con sarde was also con broccoli haha. ‘con’ means ‘with’ btw!) so just gonna use one pic here. these two are the most common pastas in sicily i think! you can find them everywhere! it was a pretty unique dish :) it’s really interesting how every part of italy has its own unique character, different kinds of cuisines for each region! the broccoli here is done really well, all mashed up and quite tasty! and the sardines went in surprisingly well too! very interesting dish, although i would say that overall we arent thaaaat into sicilian food haha. but glad that we managed to try something really local! ^^ the one thing that i didn’t really like was the type of noodles they used :/ it’s really thick and coarse, and i’m not sure whether this is really al dente style or just because the noodles is too thick and impossible to be soft, but yeah, i didn’t like it much.
Trattoria Rosa Nero
Vicolo Caldomai, 18
Tel.: +39 349 4096 880
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i feel so lucky to be able to visit Piazza Caracciolo! :)) another thing which i dont think we would have been able to experience if not for our wonderful host :’) it’s this food street that is actually really near the place that we were staying, but if we were on our own, we probably wouldn’t have gone out at night to a place like this. it’s really a place for the locals to hangout and it was great being able to experience their nightlife! :) i just think it’s not too safe to go there as a tourist alone :/ but it was awesome!!!! :) i mean, if you’re in a bigger group, go check it out! it’s really interesting :) we had some sort of a pub-hopping/food tour from 9pm-1am: a total italian/sicilian dinner-ish nightlife ;)
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first thing we tried was the pani ca meusa which is a bread roll stuffed with sauteed beef spleen O.o sounds a bit gross? hahaha. actually some of the stuff i ate that day, i really had no idea what it was, but just tried. all part of the experience eh? only after i reached home then i googled it :p haha. it was quite nice though!!!! kinda chewy, like the feeling of eating beef fats haha but it was pretty tasty!
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went to a local tavern for a drink after that! so old-school right!!! haha.
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this was a plate of pane e panelle (Palermo’s famous chickpea fritters), sfincione (a spongy, oily disc topped with onions and more chickpeas) and potato fritters. highly sinful!!! but very very tasty! haha i think the fact that the whole night was food-alcohol-food-alcohol made everything taste better :p
these are just some of the signature Palermo foods worth trying! the rest were like more kinds of weird meat (they seriously sell all parts of the body of a cow there O.o but i think their cow intestines taste better than the pork version…)
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haha i would say that our favourite food place in Palermo was not very sicilian actually xP oops :p it was more like kinda american-style…but with italian character, and sicilian desserts. haha. ^^look at that display^^ !!!! how could you resist something like that!!! we went to Touring Cafe almost every day on our trip :p hahaha.
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the reason why we first went there was because our host recommended it for traditional sicilian desserts! cannoli and pasta di mandori (: cannoli is a crunchy pastry tube filled with ricotta cheese – i liked the pastry, but personally i found the cheese a bit too overwhelming >.< i loved the pasta di mandori though!!!!! :D anything with nuts ;) it’s like a cookie dough-ish kind of thing with almonds all over it ^^ YUMYUM :D
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another day, we went back there for lunch. and so if you need to find somewhere more ummm…normal for lunch haha you can check out Touring Cafe. the food options are pretty affordable! (: lagsane (and i think other primi dishes too) was 4€.
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we were kinda cheated on the price of this -.- as in they told us it was 6€ which i thought was really good! but they ended up making it 8€ cos of the potatoes -.- zzz. so lame. but still worth it la (:
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went back for more desserts on our last day! haha. 2.50€ each (: quite reasonable! and yummmmmmy :D
Touring Cafe
Via Roma 252
Tel.: +39 091 322 726
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a place that we went for dinner which was not too bad was Le Delizie di Cagliostro. we were getting so lazy that we didnt want to walk too far for dinner haha. so just ate around where our apartment was. they served nice bread! ^^ and we ordered wine too :)
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our food was really kinda odd though! like it totally didn’t seem like we got what we ordered??? i ordered the scaloppine al limone (8€) which translates to ‘scallops with lemon’, and yes, granted it was on the page for meats, but err, i was expecting scallop because the name said so?? in the end i got something which i think was probably pork. weird. it was a simple dish, that went well with my white wine (:
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i think sam ordered the bistecca all’Americana (13€) which he was sadly disappointed with >.< oh yeah, the good thing is that the menu comes with english translations! but i guess it wasn't that helpful considering we didn't seem to get what we thought we'd ordered haha. his dish was supposed to be a beefsteak with balsamic vinegar in a bed of arugula leaves. but unfortunately the beef was so thin – nothing like a steak :(
it was still pretty decent though! considering the rather bad experience we had the next day (see below!)
Le Delizie di Cagliostro
Via Vittorio Emanuele, 150
Tel.: +39 091 332818
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so we found this restaurant on TripAdvisor and so we thought it’d be pretty safe. but turns out what was said in the reviews was quite true! idk whether it’s kinda like a self-fulfilling prophecy where we expected bad service and so we thought it was bad or what. but it was really quite terrible imo >:(
firstly, they didn’t serve us bread! and the table next to us with italians got it. hmph. and they just seemed to kinda ignore us. maybe it’s cos we dont really speak italian. but i was just peeved about the bread anyway. (i was starving!!!)
and my dish was awfully disappointing! :( cos this restaurant was called Trattoria dal Maestro del Brodo, so i thought i’d order their tortellini in brodo (8€) which i thought should be not bad since it seemed like a signature dish. end up what i got was that pathetic dish above. i was like ‘whutttttt?!’ omg seriously you call that a dish???? i mean, i did expect it to be a soup, but SO LITTLE? and the amount of tortellini inside, i could count them on my fingers -.- absolutely ludicrous!
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sam’s spaghetti con vongole veraci (14€) was, thankfully, way better. at least there were quite a lot of pieces of clams in it, and it smelled soooooooo good. haha but yeah i wouldnt recommend this place at all. tsk.
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last place! ^^ hehe. omg okay i would say that this is my fav instead!! i can’t decide. argh. okay, this and touring cafe. haha. omgg!!!! i’m having a spasm here just thinking of this ^^ ahhhh!!!! you MUST MUST MUST TRY CAPPELLO PASTICCERIA when you’re in palermo! oh yeah that stupid restaurant above, they serve a cake that is from this restaurant. so dont bother trying it there, just go straight to Cappello!!!!
they are famous for their setteveli, which is a seven-layer chocolate cake (shown in the pic ^^) and also their pistachio cake. omg they are sooooooo good. i don’t know what else i can say, but you have just got to try it! haha. super creamy and rich and gooey and tasty! we had to walk damn far (like i think 20-30min) just to find this place, but at the end sam totally conceded and said it was worth it hehe! (Y)(Y) success! i’m so glad we found it!
Cappello Pasticceria
Via Nicolo Garzilli, 10
so this concludes my very long post on sicily! (: haha now you know why i couldn’t put in all in one post. i think will read until the eyes pop out. haha i’m so tired after writing now! byebye! :D

The little surprises of Sicilia – Part I

i’m so excited to tell you guys about my trip to Sicily!!! :D i had such an awesome time there, and i totally didn’t really expect it. my idea of Sicily kept changing till the time i heard about this place, to the time i actually went there haha. there are SO MANY things to see there, which is why i’m gonna split this post into two parts – one for the sights and the other for fooooood nomnomnomz :D haha.
before going to sicily, my impression of it was that it was a beachy kind of place. but doing my research, i realised that the most convenient place to go to was Palermo (which we went to), which is a city! hmm. slightly disappointed, especially when i saw that most of the attractions on tripadvisor seemed to just be churches…but when i went there, i realised how wrong i was, and how much this beautiful city has to offer :’)
Things to do in Palermo

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the first thing that amazed me here was the sun!!! (: gosh, honestly coming from a place like Singapore has made me miss the sun so much while i’m in europe in winter -.- now i understand why people from cold countries say they love the weather in singapore hahaha. i suppose coming to sicily directly from singapore wouldnt have as much of an impact as what i just did. i LOVE the weather HERE, and i could say this a million times ^^ i always like coming to a country where the sun is bright and hot, but the air is cool and dry! perfect combi!! :) and this is exactly what sicily offers. plus the fact that there were all the palm trees around, it totally gave me the feeling of Hollywood ;) just take a stroll down Via Roma street, my favourite street in Sicily, and you’ll see what i mean :) *psst! there is even a red carpet! haha
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the thing i really enjoyed most about Palermo is that most things to see are within walking distance. of course, it helped that i stayed in the centre of city.
My advice: The location of your accommodation is very important!!! I think i mentioned this as well in my post on Lake Como. Unless you intend to drive everywhere, otherwise it’s best that you get accommodation as near to the city centre as possible (if it’s not too expensive) where most of the seen-and-be-seen places are, or at least near a metro station or some form of transport that gets you around easily. because we’ve learnt from certain trips that running for trains on a daily basis isn’t really the greatest thing to do on a holiday. haha.
so anyway, in Palermo, be prepared to walk, some places take slightly longer, but i don’t think it ever takes more than half an hour to reach places from the city centre, and you can see LOTS here ^^ it’s a beautiful place!!! please go explore!! the best thing about walking is that you unknowingly stumble upon gems which you weren’t intending to find in the first place. Fontana Pretoria (picture above) is an example of this! we just happened to be walking past and caught a glimpse of it between two buildings and went closer to explore. basked in the sunlight, it looked pretty! (: apparently sicilian’s call it the ‘fountain of shame’ though, because of all the nude sculptures haha.
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my #1 favourite place in Palermo!!!! :))))) the Palermo Cathedral :D :D omg, the moment i stepped through the gates into its grounds, i felt like i was in paradise. look at that! blue skies, green palm trees, and a magnificent building :) omgggg. i spent the longest time just standing outside taking photos heh :p and inside is quite interesting with the Arabic-Norman style church architecture that is unique to Sicily.
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this is apparently the oldest parliamentary buildilng in Sicily if i’m not wrong. and i think it’s near Palazzo del Normanni, but i’m not entirely sure (don’t quote me on this haha). anyway, Palazzo del Normanni used to be the centre of a medieval court! a ticket (€9 if i remember correctly) will get you entry into the apartment and Cappella Palatina. in my opinion, the Cappella didnt have much to see as it was pretty small, but the royal apartment was interesting! (: no pictures are allowed inside though, so no photos to show you :p
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we popped into a couple of churches along the way too! and i was really quite amazed cos i’m usually not into these churches/museums kind of thing but the churches here were really pretty! (: each church had its own character and really interesting architecture in them. i think the picture of this church above is called Chiesa Salvatore (haha not too sure because i couldnt really find a sign with the name), and another, below is Chiesa San Domenica.

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to see another face of Palermo, where the locals frequent, visit Mercato di Ballaro! it is a place throbbing with activity the whole morning till around 3pm (but it’s best to go before lunch) with stalls selling everything from vegetables, snacks, meat, seafood, fruits, cheese, olives, daily necessites etc. it’s quite nice just to walk around and the produce all looks so fresh!!!
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walking towards another side of palermo to Teatro Massimo, you’ll see the uptown, high-end area of this city :) it was really quite fascinating to visit the poorer, local haunts like the Ballaro market and the expensive region of the city all in one day. we’d actually wanted to go to Teatro Massimo in the daytime, but we thought it was quite far away. turns out that it wasnt too much of a walk (like i said, everything is within walking distance in the city centre), and i would definitely recommend that you visit this beautiful structure at night instead! i mean, it looks really good in the daytime as well, but i’m so glad that we saw it at night cos you can fully appreciate the beauty of this grand neoclassical opera house :)
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and and and omg!!!! i said that the Palermo Cathedral was my favourite place in Palermo, but this definitely vies for the coveted spot as well! in fact, this is also my top choice, not counting it as Palermo itself cos it’s kinda in the outskirts hehe ^^ Mondello beach!!!!! it’s a must visit if you’re here. look at how bright and sunny and happy this place is! :D and the water was so clear, it was soooo inviting, i wished i could have jumped in if only i’d brought my swimming attire :( this place is AMAZING. and it’s really accessible from the centre of the city! just take bus 806 (see below for info on the buses) and it’ll bring you to this beach paradise. soooo awesome ^^
Getting to and around Palermo

The fastest way to get to Palermo is, i believe, by plane. from the airport to the city centre, you can purchase tickets for the shuttle bus at the airport itself, or it is cheaper to buy them ahead of time online at http://www.prestiaecomande.it/.
Getting around Palermo, as i mentioned, is mostly possible on foot. Otherwise, for slightly further places like Mondello beach, you can buy bus tickets at 1.30€ at newspaper stands or the AMAT stands. if you can’t find one, you can purchase the tickets on the bus itself, but it is much more expensive. bus schedules and routes can be found here: http://www.amat.pa.it/.
yepp, so this are all the bests of palermo – there are lots more pretty places in Sicily to visit which i unfortunately didnt get to see (recommend any places you’ve been to before! in case i wanna go there again ;))
have fun and look out for part #2 for food! :D