blog #12 Genio & Palermo part 2

La Vita e Bella

I start my walk in the old district La Loggia heading for the most famous market, la Vucciria. In the narrow streets I am surrounded by walls with graffiti full of monsters and angels, a huge beating heart and the Godfather. Good to see there is a lot of construction activity on the ruins in this area caused by WWII and neglect.

The newly restored fountain the Fontana Garraffello (gharraf is abundance of water in Arabic) has been the only supply of drinking water for the neighborhood for centuries is working again. Boys are pouring buckets of water for Mama. “Don’t go to la Vucciria that’s dead.. go to la vecchia, piu bella Mercato del Capo at Porta Carina.. smell the herbs, fruits, fresh fish,” Nonna yells from a doorway.

I walk on with “La Vita e Bella” on my left and a gallery on the right with fish in large bowls where men with big hoses spray water over my feet laughing. The market is a long winding street full of stalls. I take a free stool to enjoy the scents and colors of the fruits and vegetables. Marketmen come to check me out and touch my shoulder or hair. You can buy anything here. An enormous diversity of people and languages make me curious about their life stories.

blog #11 Genio di Palermo part 1

Palermo tour – walking with the Genius of Palermo / part 1 for Nat Geo


Influences from outside Sicily shaped Palermo for centuries. Also now the unstoppable stream of refugees and immigrants create many beautiful things in addition to the well-known problems. During my Palermo tour you can see this in architecture, street art, the food culture and the mentality of the residents: tolerant, open, hospitable.


A fast ferry is wonderful .. but I am very relieved when, after a turbulent journey by sea, the angel in the port of Palermo welcomes me with open arms: “Bienvenuto” – welcome! Next time I will take the regular ferry like the locals.

Genio / the Genius

Leaving the port towards the city, I see the Genio of Palermo in marble: an old man with a beard and crown and a snake biting his chest. This spirit will be my guide on my journey. There are 8 statues of the Genio, each with its own story, in a special place in the historic center.

To get to know the real nature of the Palermitani, I follow Genio through their history of domination and survival, integration of foreigners and their cultures alongside the tough individuality of the Sicilians.

to be continued > blog 12 Genio di Palermo part 2

blog #9 Park

Trees older than men .. how can we decide to kill them? My plans for the park here in Amsterdam are clear. This park called Oosterpark is important in very different ways for this area inside a city: people can relax / de-stress, it produces fresh air, it regulates water, people can sport / train, walk, socialize, enjoy the colors, sounds, scents of nature. And there is room for art – sculptures, drawings – for learning to bike, children can play safely, recovering illness etc.