Mondello is a swanky beach town in the suburbs of Palermo. Excursions to the sea at Mondello are a ritual for Palermitani. It’s about a 20 minute cab ride or a 30 minute bus ride from Palermo.
It is a sandy bay that binds the two promontories, called Monte Gallo and Mount Pellegrino. The Natural Reserve of Capo Gallo and the reserve of Monte Pellegrino are nearby.
The lively area is dominated by an Art Nouveau pavilion at the end of a pier called Antico Stabilimento Balneare di Mondello (“Mondello’s old beach resort”) or Charleston (pictured above). Dine on the terrace of the stylish Art Nouveau “Alle Terrazze” restaurant, situated on a pier, in the center of the Bay at Ristorante Charleston in Mondello (pictured above). It’s located on Via Regina Elena and offers an incredible “Vino con Vista.” I ordered the “Risotto ai Sapori di Sicilia” (Sicilian flavored risotto) and earned my Buon Ricordo collector’s plate covered with hand-painted citrus fruits. Have a glass of Bianco D’Alcamo as you gaze at the incredible Conca d’Oro hills that curve around the bay. Go to the beach and swim in the delightful azure water. There is an annual beach festival in the second week of May.
Then I traveled to Monte Pellegrino. Perched at the top of Monte Pellegrino you can visit the sanctuary of Saint Rosalia. Her statue welcomes visitors to the sanctuary that was erected over a cave where she lived and prayed. She dedicated herself to a life of prayer and penance.
Tradition says that she was led to the cave by two angels. On the cave wall she wrote “I, Rosalia, daughter of Sinibald, Lord of Roses, and Quisquina, have taken the resolution to live in this cave for the love of my Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Rosalia is dressed in a simple brown nun’s habit, holding a skull (her own) and a pick axe, a symbol of the axe used by Vincenzo to enter into the cave where her bones were for three centuries.
She died in 1166 and was beatified and adopted as the patron saint of the city of Palermo. One of the miracles attributed to her is the end of the Plague that ravaged Sicily in the 17th century. The plague was brought in by a Tunisian ship in 1624.
Faithful followers climb to the sanctuary every September 4th on a pilgrimage. The water that drips from the cave is believed to be miraculous. The marble figure of the Saint is clothed in a golden cape donated by Charles III of Bourbon. An annual procession in July carries Saint Rosalia through town. Her statue is carried on a float drawn by oxen from Monte Pellegrino,
To learn more about Sicily read www.vino-con-vista.com Sicily Travel Guides and
- Ten Reasons Why I Love Palermo Sicily (vinoconvistablog.me)
- Wine Spectator’s Maps of Italy’s Major Wine Regions (vinoconvistablog.me)