Gabe, Becky, and I rent a car in Sicily because the island is not too large and becomes very accessible with wheels. Before leaving Palermo on day one, we visit the Catacombs of The Capuchins and the Duomo di Monreale. Both are incredible experiences and both are very different. The Catacombs are full with well preserved human bodies still dressed in their finest clothes from several hundred years back. There are men, women, and children, all either lined up against the walls or stacked on top of each other. There are babies in carriages and families still together. Some still have skin, some still have hair, and some still frightening show an expression as we pass. The Catacombs are a chilling experience where the dead people seem too real. The next stop before leaving Palermo is Duomo di Monreale, a beautiful cathedral at the top of a hill overlooking all of Palermo. Becky, who has studied much about ancient architecture, reveals many of the intricacies of the church as we walk through it.
On our way to Sciacca, where we will be spending our first two nights, we stop at Corleone, the home of many Mafia bosses from the Godfather’s Vito Corleone to real bosses such as Jack Dragna, Giuseppe Morello, Michele Navarra and others. We take a couple photos, grab a snack, I unsuccessfully try to find some suspenders because I seem to recall those from the movies, and we continue on our way.
Our final stop of the day is Sciacca, pronounced like Chaka of Chaka Khan, the 10 time Grammy Award winning artist with hits such as “Tell Me Something Good” and “Sweet Thing”. But enough about Chaka. We find a nice bed and breakfast to stay at just outside the heart of the city. The owners are very friendly and full advice, and there is ample space for the three of us including a kitchen and a living room. For dinner, we make our way to a hidden pizza place not far from the bed and breakfast and we end our day enjoying three large pizza with fresh local ingredients.
The journey in the car between each stop shows off some of the expansive and empty landscapes still present within Sicily. There are mountains, valleys, greens, and browns in every direction. The island is beautiful, very warm, and still not overrun by tourists. Looking out the windows as we drive through the countryside is as enjoyable as any destination.