The streets in the historic Palermo not too long ago were all but off-limits to any but the mob-connected. To wander there at night was to bet your life with the cards stacked against you. In the past 25 years, however, the district has gradually been transformed to the tourist-friendly magnet it is today.
At the intersection of the two main streets an especially large square opens up. Each of the four corners is cut away. A semi-permanent fixture at one of these “corners” is an incredibly garish and unique “cart” that evokes the traditional “carretto siciliano” that farmers used to take their harvest to market.
It’s impossible to walk along the street and stay hungry.
The servers at the ice cream bar never have to handle money. The server has only to enter the price into the machine on the right. It takes in coins and bills and gives back the correct change in coins and bills.
Across the street, sit and sip.
The Palermitani are very friendly and welcoming people. It is, of course in their interest to welcome tourists, but they manage to do it in a way that comes across as genuine. If you ask, they are happy to tell you about their families, how they began in business, what they have done in their lives, etc. They trade anecdotes with you and are eager to hear your story.
Not only are Palermo’s streets safer than they have been in a long time, they are more beautiful. Ruined palazzi and run-down mansions are being restored and renovated as desirable condominiums.