It was getting dark when our plane landed. San Jose, Costa Rica —> El Salvador —> San Francisco —> Stockholm —> Palermo was an exhausting trip, which brought us to the point of total immunity to any new impressions. A short taxi ride later we were in Mondello, our first stop in Sicily.
First Sicilian Impression. I read some negative opinions about Italian, and Sicilian in particular, taxi drivers generalizing them as scamming and untrustworthy. I want to praise our driver, whose name I sadly forgot to ask in the commotion of events. He took great care of us late at night by figuring out the maze of tiny back streets of Mondello, persistently calling our landlady while I was panicking about very real opportunity of spending a night “camping” on the side of the road, and waiting with us in front of the locked gate of B&B to make sure that we got in. Thank you, our nameless friend :).
This is the view we woke up in the morning. Slightly hazy, hot and humid, the weather caught me by surprise. The thermometer displayed shocking 38C, and, as one of our fellow travelers put it, it felt exactly as in his native Singapore. Go figure.
Undeterred, we left the relative coolness of the house (“just” 35C by 11 inside without A/C). In hindsight, walking 12 km under Mediterranian sun immediately after a 2-day flight was not the wisest decision. We hadn’t planned it, but it was impossible to stop when a first glance outside the house looked like this.
We spent 3 days in Mondello, a small town next to Palermo. In American English, it could be called a suburb: a newcomer would not even notice when Palermo ends and Mondello begins. Originally, just a tiny fishing village tucked between two cliffs, it transformed into a beach resort by the end of 19th century. The Art Nouveau villas (allegedly, some the best examples of Art Nouveau in Italy and Europe), the old bathhouse, and the famous beach make Mondello a picture-perfect location for a movie set. Just picture Angelina Jolie or Monica Belucci strolling along the water to complete the scene.
Unfortunately, summer (even the most end of it) is not the best time to visit Mondello for those who seek a quiet weekend on the water. It was packed with beachgoers. Cars were parked so tight that we wondered how any driver was able to get out. The sea reminded a hearty soup with heads and bodies bobbing up and down.
Nah, the central beach was too crowded and the town was too hot to enjoy. We would have to come back there in October when the high season ends to properly explore Mondello’s Art Nouveau architecture.
Luckily, just a short walk away, we found a completely different world. Riserva Naturale Orientata Di Capo Gallo, a regional nature reserve of Sicily, begins right outside of Mondello.
Friendly white sand and shallow water suddenly morph into a wild feisty landscape. Mount Gallo, not really a mountain but more a cliff-like formation, overlooks the coast, black coastal rocks dive into sparkling crystal-clear water, trees give way to cactuses, gigantic thistles and patches of dry grass.
It is an absolutely breathtaking place.
Riserva Di Capo Gallo on Google Maps: