It’s good to have friends in Palermo. Rome is chaotic in a frenetic way, but Palermo’s brand of disorder is a little harder to decode. With the exception of taxi drivers and motorini,nobody’s in a hurry.
In fact, there’s a randomness to the pace of life—it’s a bit vexing. The food markets close surprisingly early. People go out for dinner at 9:30 p.m. Some of the street signs are in Arabic. Old ladies shout across the alleyway to each other from open windows, their voices mixing with the echoes of church bells. Then there’s the summer heat, which forces everyone indoors during the middle of the day, and suddenly this chaotic town looks deserted. You feel like you’ve shown up late to a meeting and missed out on the orientation session with no reliable handbook for reference. Yes, visiting Palermo can be confusing, and having friends in the know can make all the difference.