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See the dead in your eyes.

Matt having flown home so as not to miss the AFL grand final (sigh…), Rob, Dirk and I set out on our last day in Rome to see as many museums left on our funky archaeology combination tickets as possible. We got through the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, a blend of complete marble statues, mosaics and frescos from antiquity, then we went to the Crypta Balbi, which really doesn’t bear writing about, and finally the Palazzo Altemps, which houses the collection of some cardinal who a couple of hundred years ago bought many broken Roman marble statues and had contemporary sculptors complete and ‘enhance’ them, with mixed but interesting results. Rome was nice if somewhat distant; it was hard to get a feel for the dynamic of the city itself, swamped as it is in tourists and buried as it is in monuments.

The following day, Rob and I got up at 10 to 6 and left Dirk in Rome while we caught the train to Palermo. For 11 hours. This is not an exciting way to spend 11 hours. Between the ferry at Messina and the outskirts of Palermo there appeared out our window an ill-planned, disjointed fracas of horrid instant houses with no real signs of life between them: little traffic, few people, no feel of habitation. Palermo however is abuzz with life: traffic snarls, crowds, culture. The historical centre is especially vibrant after dark, and very intriguing. Imagine an extremely seedy, dilapidated, crumbling mess of dark alleys, bars, feral dogs, garbage and fairy lights and you are fairly close. It isn’t intimidating though, as there is no visible drug culture or prostitution. Visible most likely being the operative word. The feel really is a blend of Italian and Arabic. The food is also fabulous, though not as much ‘street’ food as the literature promises. The highlight thus far is arancino, a crumbed, deep-fried rice ball filled with meat and peas and tomato. The low-light so far is the bureaucratic method of getting food from the street cafeterias (focaccerie) that only Italians could formulate. There is also a societal element added to Palermo that is absent from northern Italy. While in the north there are Italians, here there are Italians and Wogs! Doof-doof listening, body kit adorned car owning, gold bling dripping, fully sick wogs, wearing their Vespa helmets in a tacit fashion so as not to mess their perfectly spiked hair.

However, in the light of day, Palermo loses some of its zest while its ugliness remains, without the coloured lights to contrast against and add beauty to the decay of its buildings. With out first full day here, Rob, myself and an Americano from the hostel, Marko, headed out to explore and to fulfil my main aim of visiting Palermo: visit the Catacombe dei Cappuccini. This is where several hundred (poorly) mummified bodies are strung up into niches in the walls of several tunnels, kitted out in the clothing of their times. Another reminder that we shall all soon be as they are. As we left, Rob and I reflected upon the statement in a current Western Europe travel guide that this is the creepiest place in the whole world, and that now, at the age of 27, I have seen the pinnacle of creepiness. It is all downhill from here. There are still worlds of horror and depression to witness, but never again will I see creepier. (And I say something sexy like) Is that it? It did however allow me to reach the pinnacle of black humour, as documented by the single photo that I took cunningly. It will be in the galleries soon, once unlimited free internets are again mine, but you devi essere capace a leggi Italiano.

This lunar cycle

April 2015
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