The task at hand is: to make a picture with different textures, each corner of the image has to tell something else about the building. Keep it soft and gentile, human. People must live here. This is not a concrete statement, it is a place you want to live. A house with light and fresh air .. in a big metropolitan area. The image is built up with layers each one with another texture and feeling. Complex but simple and effective, right?
I walk to my home in Napoli / Naples over the Decumano Superiore (Via Anticaglia) and cannot believe my eyes. The Roman amphitheater is still visible in the structure of the streets and houses. Two thousand years of layers on top of layers. My house is built on and in the amphitheater. I am in heaven!! But the next moment I have to jump for my life when a scooter tries to go even faster when his eyes focus on me .. hell. I find safety in one of the gates to a caravanserai like courtyard. These gates are huge. But the door to enter is very tiny indeed.
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.
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.