A leisurely start to the day with breakfast on our terrace. It was almost 10.00 a.m. when we stepped out of our apartment strolling the short distance to the nearby Ballaro outdoor market which seemed much larger than when we briefly visited the previous day just as it was about to close. I was tempted into buying a large punnet of cherries, some more strawberries and a bunch of fresh garlic. The fish section looked interesting with huge slabs of swordfish, sardines and numerous other varieties that I couldn’t identify and had no idea how to cook so thought it best to save fish for eating out.
Across the road from the market we glanced inside the Chiesa di San Cataldo where mass was just about to take place and the congregation were starting to gather. Even small churches like this one are elaborate with painted fresco ceilings, marble pillars and altars.
From there, we wandered along to the Villa Bananno Gardens which had large palm trees providing welcome shade. Its central fountain was undergoing reconstruction but the oleander trees surrounding it were still beautiful. From the park a path leads to the Piazza del Parlamento lined with official buildings and at right angles the Palazzo Reale which is usually open to the public but on the occasion of our visit the Royal Apartments were unfortunately closed.
As it was extremely hot we decided to return to our apartment for a short rest as it was only a short walk away. Our courtyard terrace was completely shaded and an ideal spot to relax with a glass of beer and some juicy olives. An hour or so later we set off again exploring more of the pedestrianised city centre. This time our walk took us to Piazza Verdi, a wide square dominated by the magnificent Teatro Massimo, the largest opera house in Italy and one of the biggest in Europe. In addition to a full theatre programme, tours of the building take place daily.
Our stroll continued as far as the waterfront and after taking our life in hands attempting to cross the busy main road we were then able to enjoy a pleasant stroll around the marina. A regatta was taking place for children with special needs who were having immense fun in adapted dinghies enabling them to participate fully in the sailing event.
Continuing along the seafront we paused to look in more detail at some of the yachts which varied in size from small day boats to luxurious cruisers. After stopping for refreshing glasses of beer overlooking the water we decided to return to the centre on the Palermo Navette free bus service. This service is timetabled to operate around the city at 11 minute intervals but after waiting patiently for 25 minutes with no sight or sound of it, we gave up and returned to our apartment on foot.
Later in the evening when the temperature had dropped slightly we ventured out again deciding to eat dinner on the rooftop terrace of the Rinascente department store. With stunning views of the floodlit square below, this was the perfect location to end our first full day in Palermo.
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