If the streets of Palermo could talk, I am sure they would have some epic tales to tell. Sicily’s capital has endured more than its fair share of conquerers, rulers, and passer-bys, each bringing a dose of prosperity and turmoil to these shores as they came and went. What they left behind was an intriguing jumble of cultures and styles, layered on top of each other to create one which you could say is what makes Palermo so unique. This is quite evident in the city’s architecture where Norman facades give way to Byzantine mosaics, which are in turn housed under the Arab domes and arches, but it has also left its mark quite strongly on the cuisine.
While I am fond of getting lost in the warrens of an old city, what I love even more is to discover edible gems down the narrow alley ways and street corners which only the locals know about. Rumour had it that here in Palermo there were plenty such gems, all we needed was that local. Accosting strangers in the street didn’t seem wise, so we booked ourselves onto a street food tour with Streaty Palermo. Meandering through the streets with Marco, our exuberant born and bred Palermitan guide, was definitely the best way of getting a taste of the city.
Our weekend at Alpenpalace Deluxe Hotel & Spa Resort was a leisurely one and definitely a little out of the ordinary for us. We saw views from mountaintops instead of tower-tops, the paths we traversed were paved with dirt and not cobbles, and the only noise we woke up to was the sing-song of the local birds. It really couldn’t be any further from the hustle of our usual weekend city breaks but there was one thing which remained the same… the food. It wouldn’t be a Connie Consumes weekend getaway if there wasn’t some decent food on the adventure!
All room bookings at Alpenpalace are half board which means you get your breakfast and dinner included in the rate, though in reality they offer you so much more than just two standard meals. The thought of eating at the same restaurant for three days and nights in a row did make me feel a little uneasy… I’m the girl with the big bucket restaurant lists, remember?! But from our first meal to our last, everything dished up by Head Chef Andreas Schwienbacher and his team was delicious. They created feasts which were comforting, creative and showcased the South Tyrolean produce – something which are they are rightfully very proud of.
Like most other Antipodean expats, a certain someone and I love a weekend city break. In fact, when the Brits ask me why on earth we would ditch gloriously green New Zealand for a life of grey in London, I often say it’s because of the ease of the city break. A leisurely entrance on a Friday, immersing ourselves in the local sights and food on a Saturday and Sunday, followed by a speedy exit on a Monday; we’ve got our routine mastered. I like the pace of the city break, the sensory assault from all angles suits my short, scatty attention span just fine. But you know what? It can be a really exhausting way to travel.
I always knew this but it took a glass of champagne and a hotel balcony with views of snow-capped mountains, rolling hills, and blue skies, for me to really accept that sometimes it’s ok to go away for the weekend and just relax… We ditched the lists of ‘things to do and see’ and ‘places to eat’ in exchange for a few days of sunshine, fresh air, and absolutely no plans at the beautiful Alpenpalace Deluxe Hotel & Spa Resort in South Tyrol. Nestled in the Ahrntal Valley and surrounded by the Dolomites, this was the ultimate place for us to take a much needed breather…
Mention Milan and I immediately think of fashion. My mind starts picturing designer bag toting, stiletto heel wearing fashionistas… sleek looking ladies… impossibly chic Italian women. I imagine myself joining their ranks for a few days as I pound the pavements, ducking in and out of boutiques… arms becoming laden down with shopping bags as the day goes on… The shopaholic in me is basically in heaven. But this is all just a daydream. Shopaholic Connie hasn’t hit her stride in quite some time, about the same time a certain someone showed up on the scene.
I could spend, and have spent, hours strolling the streets of a foreign city just window shopping, making the occasional purchase here and there. I truly enjoy wandering through new shops, looking at new things, pondering whether I want it enough to squeeze into my luggage, but a certain someone doesn’t and there’s nothing more awkward than trying to shop with someone who hates the looking part.