Palermo with a baby?

Prior to booking tickets to Sicily we were hesitating between the western and the eastern part of the island. We would not be able to do everything Sicily has to offer, so better stick with just one side of the island we thought. After a brief (read: shallow) consideration, we bought tickets to Palermo. Delicious, distinctive street food and a bit of history, here we come! So we thought.

Palermo

Antica Focacceria San Francesco, a Palermitano institution, is a wonderful place to taste local delicacies.

In total, our trip in Sicily was going to last 12 days. We reserved two first nights at Grand Hotel et Des Palmes (a local institution, right in the center of Palermo), assuming that we will definitely want to stay longer. The plan was to eventually continue by a rental car from Palermo to one or two other destinations, preferably by the sea. After we had seen “everything” in Palermo…..

Palermo is a city full of history and art. Be prepared for a lot of walking!

Palermo, the capital of Sicily, is full of history and art. Be prepared for a lot of walking!

One week later (am writing this from San Vito Lo Capo) I am sorry to acknowledge that our two-night stay in Palermo was more than enough. We are very happy that we hadn’t reserved more nights. In fact we could not wait to leave Palermo behind us. Why?Β Do not get me wrong, Palermo surely offers a zillion things to do and see, but it was not the right choice for us traveling with a five month old baby. Below is a list of my/our impressions!

Only crazy tourists in Palermo with an ultra-Parisian stroller? (ok, we had a baby carrier too)

Only crazy tourists in Palermo with an ultra-Parisian stroller? (ok, we had a baby carrier too)

  1. Palermo is much bigger (and chaotic) than I expected. The greater Palermo has over one million inhabitants, making it the fifth most populated city (with its surroundings) in Italy. My fault, didn’t do my research well enough. I expected more small streets leading to cute piazzas, but streets we saw were big, noisy and very polluted. The potential of the seaside in Palermo is not used as it could be argues the urban architect in me.
Streets of Palermo are busy. Humidity combined with pollution makes walking quite unpleasant...

Streets of Palermo are busy. Humidity combined with pollution makes walking quite unpleasant…

2. In order to really understand and enjoy Palermo one needs to visit museums, churches, historical monuments etc., but how many museums do parents with a (crying) small baby usually visit…? Trying to get a feel of this fascinatingly multicultural city just by looking at the walls didn’t make us much more knowledgeable about Palermo’s rich past.

See the names? Signs like this show the rich and complex history of Palermo.

See the names? Signs like this show the rich and complex history of Palermo.

3. Our hotel choice was a big mistake. More about that later, but we should have searched outside the city, for example in Mondello, a nearby beach town, and just do day trips to Palermo.

This said, our stay in Palermo was not a great success. I am still beating myself up while asking “what did you think of bringing a small baby (with precious lungs) into a big city like Palermo?”. One week later I am still wondering how much of this feeling comes from the fact that we are very tired (accumulation of months’ fatigue…) and how much of it really is because of Palermo. Would I have liked Palermo more should I have gone there before the baby? Who knows. I think someone once called Palermo a rough diamond and I could not agree more. Just that when traveling with a baby one normally looks for smooth and not rough places (lol).

15 thoughts on “Palermo with a baby?

  1. Tiina

    Sorry to hear that you did not enjoy it. I thought it a wonderful place and I would love to return there one day! So much to see and taste!! But I guess it’s not an ideal destination for a baby. Since I don’t have one, my experience is probably very different.

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    1. Miia Post author

      Hey Tiina! I think “the problem” indeed is that there is so much to see. And with a baby it is not possible to do visits 😦
      We left Palermo frustrated and I hate the feeling but I am sure we will return in some years’ time. And we do have the eastern part of the island to do too!

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    1. Miia Post author

      Yeah maybe…. We got home tonight and am actually still trying to analyze what happened. This was the 3rd trip three of us took together, and two others went really well. I still don’t get it! I understand that we have to accommodate ourselves to new ways of traveling, but also, I do think that I had idealized Sicily a bit, and some of the places we went to did not meet our expectations.
      Have you been?

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      Reply
      1. Miia Post author

        No, it doesn’t, but I do regret that I didn’t think longer about the destination (something I have to do when planning our next trip! A lesson learned πŸ™‚ ).

        There is “too much” to see in Sicily and yet I think we did quite a bit (considering our situation = the baby), I consider we saw next to nothing.

        Did you travel a lot / as much when your kids were babies/toddlers?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sue Slaght

        Miia we traveled very little when our children were younger other than by car. In all honesty at the time we couldn’t afford it. We have had fun taking them on a fair amount of trips as they got older but very few in the early years.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thais K.

    My parents spend a month in Sicily last spring. They would stay in Castellammare del Golfo (really beautiful and quiet place) and make day trips to Palermo. It was safer, cheaper and more enjoyable that way. Maybe next time you could try something like that! πŸ™‚

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    Reply
    1. Miia Post author

      Hey Thais! I totally agree with you. In fact we moved from Palermo to Castellammare del Golfo, then to San Vito Lo Capo and lastly to Cefalu. Will write about all of these places when I can make time… πŸ™‚

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  3. Pingback: Comeback attempt | pearlspotting

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