A lazy start to our Sunday morning with a relaxing breakfast out on our terrace. Feeling ready to set off, we wandered through Palermo’s historic quarter, passing the vast Teatro Massimo and continuing along to the newer part of town with its designer shops. Soon, we arrived at the Teatro Politeama in the Piazza Ruggero Settimo. This theatre is the second most important in the city and is home to the Sicilian Symphony Orchestra.
Located just around the corner from this theatre is the bus stop to take passengers to the beach resort of Mondello. Buses leave at 20 minute intervals with AMAT services 806 and 833 (the latter being summer only). When catching buses in Italy please ensure that you are already in possession of a ticket, which is available from tobacconists (€1.40 adult single to anywhere within the city boundaries). The ticket needs to be validated on board the bus and is valid for 90 minutes enabling transfers to other routes.
Unfortunately for us, the bus was just indicating to depart as we paused to cross the road so we had to wait at the bus stop for 20 minutes. Whilst standing patiently for the bus it was interesting to observe a house move taking place a few doors down the road. A removal van was parked outside and had hoisted an aluminium ladder up to the first floor onto which a lift mechanism had been attached. I watched intently as beds, chairs, vacuum cleaners etc. were hoisted up on a platform with the second removal man upstairs leaning out of a window ready to retrieve the items each time the platform had been reloaded at the roadside. This was much easier than attempting to manoeuvre everything up and down a narrow staircase, but I do wonder if occasionally things fall off.
The distraction of the house move passed the time for us and it didn’t seem very long before our bus to Palermo’s seaside arrived. The journey took only 25 minutes circling the foot of Monte Pellegrino on its way into Mondello. We alighted from the bus at its first stop on Mondello’s promenade however the bus continues all the way along the seafront making further stops along the seafront. Our plan to get off at one end meant that we could walk all the way along without needing to retrace our steps to board a return service back to Palermo.
Mondello is a beach resort popular with locals, especially at weekends, and on our late Sunday morning arrival the beach was already crowded. The atmosphere seemed very civilised with sun worshippers relaxing on the soft, white crescent shaped sandy beach which slopes gently into the turquoise sea.
As with Cefalu, which we visited earlier in the week, private beach areas are interspersed with public, free to access zones. Rows upon rows of regimentally positioned beach huts sit at right angles to the beach facing other blocks a few metres away. In the UK, our beach huts usually face the sea allowing those occupying them to spend their days lazing on the beach gazing out to sea and watching the world go by. Another difference is that here in Sicily the beach huts are all painted a uniform colour unlike at home where they are usually brightly painted in all colours of the rainbow.
The promenade is lined with Oleander trees and overlooking the sea are numerous turn of the century elegant villas giving Mondello a smart appearance away from the usual souvenir shops and amusement arcades
Midway along the promenade we reached a striking Art Nouveau building on the pier, known as the Charleston. This dates back to the resort’s heyday and has now been restored to its former glory. There is no charge to walk around this beautiful building where children were having fun in the warm, shallow water in front of the building. There’s an attractive restaurant where we had considered having lunch but this was closed to the public due to a private function,
Our stroll continued as far as the small, picturesque harbour with its fleet of small, wooden fishing boats bobbing up and down on their moorings in the breeze. A few people were fishing from the jetty and we were careful not to stumble over some nets that had been strung out along the quayside to dry.
A rest was then required, and we soon found a tranquil spot in the main square where we enjoyed some freshly caught seafood and glasses of local beer on its sunny terrace overlooking the water.
It had been so easy to get from Palermo to Mondello by public transport and a splendid way of taking a break from city sightseeing. As the bus loops around the resort, we returned from a stop near the harbour.
We alighted the bus at a different stop so that we could take a stroll in the Giardini Inglese (English Gardens) which were established in 1851. The gardens surround an historical villa and after spending several hours in bustling Mondello it made a pleasant change to take a stroll through these tranquil gardens under the shade of some exotic trees.
The gardens feature a small lake and numerous statues, busts and monuments in memory of famous people and it was a worthwhile detour on the way back to our apartment.
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