Palermo has a different feel during the day when the sun bakes the city and the priority is to get the punters to spend money on the sights, on food and on drink and souvenirs. The main streets and piazzas are crowded with lines of hot, red-faced tourists following their leaders in slow, overheated processions moving from church to palace to chapel. Domes and steeples reach to the heavens drawing them in to their cool stone-lined interiors.
The main thoroughfares have been pedestrianised but are still are a real tussle to negotiate. Restaurants, bars, food outlets, have placed lines of small tables which have a constant turnover of clientele. The multitude of electric scooters skimming their way through the crowds just adds to the chaos.
Local life caries on up the side streets – the restaurants preparing for evening service, ‘the best gelato in Sicily’, the tourist tat shops, street markets with their grills and soups, tables balanced precariously to take account of the gradients. Umbrellas of all shapes and sizes provide shade to customers and passers-by.
As night falls it all quietens down a bit and the world starts to relax and gets less frantic.
As night falls the side streets and their communities come to life.
Emptied by the heat of the day, as the air cools the shutters are raised, the tables come out, the workshops and craft houses display their wares and the streets are taken over by a youthful, partisan, diverse community.
Laughter and love fill the air, views are exchanged, passions expressed. Wine and beer flow, tapas and street food served and the evening grabs you in a warm, comfortable embrace.
I love it.