Located in the north-west area of Italy's southernmost territory, Palermo is the capital of Sicily, and a sprawling and chaotic city. Famed with having many historic landmarks, a crazy but good-spirited populace, and an enduring mafia influence, you can't visit Sicily without at least passing through the place. I stayed in Palermo for one night, before continuing on my great Sicilian bike ride.
After a great breakfast at my lucky find, this morning I headed out of the Sicilian capital, and found myself back on the road. I didn't really see much of Palermo — although I was here almost 24 hours, all I did was relax and catch up online — but I don't think I missed that much: apart from a few nice churches and museums (which are everywhere in Italy), it's really just a big and chaotic city. From Palermo, I headed south-west, uphill past the town of Monreale, and over a small set of mountains to Partinico. The weather was perfect when I first headed out, although it quickly deteriorated into a cold, light drizzle; and to some extent, the dreaded wind of previous days came back with a bite.
Once I reached central Palermo this morning, my main task was to find somewhere reasonably cheap — and reasonably comfortable — to clean myself up after roughing it in the highlands, and to relax for the night. I ended up riding pseudo-randomly around the historic tourist centre, and looking for what I hoped would be such a place. And boy, did I score a lucky find! I stumbled across a B&B, where they were asking a price way above what I was prepared to pay, and way above the price of my other accommodation so far in Sicily. That was to be expected, I guess: Palermo's a big city, and things are bound to cost more in a big city. However, when I pressed them for a cheaper option, they offered me a spare apartment around the corner for the night — not sure what the deal was with this place, if it belonged to a friend who was away for the weekend, or if it was a vacant holiday apartment, or whatever. But I didn't care: not only did they give me this gorgeous apartment for the night; they gave it to me for a very reasonable price, and they threw in breakfast at the B&B to boot! So as far as a night in Palermo went, I didn't do too badly at all.
Today's cycling was still very windy, and quite cold. But it was very short, and it was downhill virtually the whole way. From last night's field near Corleone, it only took me about 2½ hours this morning to ride north out of the mountainous Mafia heartland; and down to Palermo, the capital and largest city of Sicily. It took a little while to get into the centre of Palermo — plus, I was forced for the first time to cycle on the autostrada (freeway), as there seemed to be no other way to reach the city centre (I don't think bicycles are allowed on the autostrada — but what the hell). Seeing as it was such a quick ride to the capital, I guess I can spend the rest of the day relaxing and recovering from my rugged time in the hills.