What We Saw on the Road to Palermo

February 2, 2013

We drove up from the south on a bright blue day.

“Let’s stick to the little back roads!” I said, and Kim raised his eyebrows.

We saw gorgeous villas abandoned to pigeons.

Abandoned Villa in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

We saw Giovanni, pastore, who has kept goats for half a century.

Sicilian Shepherd, copyright Jann Huizenga

We saw abandoned houses the color of persimmons, with trees shaped like corn dogs on a stick.


And that is where we got into trouble.


We had to turn around. (Only lost a few hours.)

Snow-capped Madonie Mountains, copyright Jann Huizenga

We zipped through the cold Madonie Mountains…

…and came out the other side to warm sea breezes. Palermo! Straight on!

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48 comments to What We Saw on the Road to Palermo

  • Gentile signora mi sono imbattuto qualche tempo fa nel suo blog e soprattutto dentro la SUA prospettiva della mia isola: lei ha una grande sensibilità fotografica e anche, credo, una forte curiosità verso la mia terra.
    Molti stranieri sono rimasti colpiti per sempre dalla Sicilia, per certi versi è una situazione uguale e opposta a quella descritta da Tomasi di Lampedusa nel suo “Gattopardo” quando afferma che della Sicilia non ci si libera facilmente e che solo un allontanamento in giovane età può lasciarti libero da una seduzione sottile e onnipresente ( spero che lei comprenda chiaramente il mio italiano).
    Ho sfogliato attentamente il suo portfolio e l’ho trovato molto valido e realistico, lei è attenta a certi particolari di questa terra che in genere solo un isolano riesce a percepire. Io ho scritto alcuni testi sulla Sicilia, mi piacerebbe poter usare le sue foto a tal proposito; se avrà la compiacenza di venire sul mio blog e prenderne visione con tutta calma potrà poi darmi una risposta. Grazie in ogni caso
    Enzo Rasi

    • Jann

      Gentile Enzo, mille grazie per la sua commenta e benvenuto al blog. Se ci sono delle foto particolare che vuole usare, lasciami sapere. A piu tarde, e grazie ancora per questa bel commento. Ora vado su il suo blog! Ciao.

  • Okay, I’m confused. Am I looking at photos of postcards? Jann! These shots are AMAZING! You have truly outdone yourself, my friend! I felt like I too, was stuck with you on the muddy road! And Giovanni and the “corn dog” trees! Oh my! I’m still smiling–from ear to ear! 🙂

  • Wow! Palermo looks like a very beautiful and relaxing place to stay. Lovely pictures you have here. Is there any villas or bed and breakfast that people can rent? I wanna put this on my wishlist 😀

    • Jann

      Hello Adele–thank you for your comment. I’m not sure I would call Palermo “relaxing”—quite the opposite, especially if you’re driving in it, but there is a great B&B I can recommend in Palermo: Butera 28.

  • I want to make a cleverly punny remark to do with “not getting stuck in a rut” but my head is still swimming with the concept and imagery of villas left to pigeons and abandonned houses the colour of persimmon. To say nothing of the sea breezes that are wafting in…

    • Jann

      🙂 Amazingly, we did not get stuck in a rut, and very lucky we were, too, because there was not a living soul anywhere near that muddy stretch, and the place seemed out of cell phone reach. I guess we could have camped out in the abandoned house and eaten the corn-dog tree.

  • Ah, beautiful! Looking forward to the rest of your trip!

  • lucy

    Yay! Where my family is from! I hope to revisit it again, I was there for 3 months when I was 18!

  • È pensare che tempo fa ho faticato tanto per trovare un gregge di pecore da far fotografare ad un fotografo olandese..Web drove so far all back roads between Noto and Palazzolo Rosolini that day nothing to do! beautiful Photoes Jann,as always
    Sicily Look more beautiful through your eyes . grazie!

    • Jann

      That’s very funny, Lucia, that you spent a whole day looking for a shepherd. When you don’t look, you find… xxxxxxbacixxxxx

  • Jann, I was there, every step of the way. Wonderful!

  • Back roads are always best…Thanks for sharing these snippets of your drive!

  • Your photos are always superb, Jann. Stunned by the crispness of the country.

  • Every post you write makes me miss Sicily! I am always in favour of the back roads…Who needs the autostrada? Efficient, yes; interesting, no. If you’d taken the autostrada the whole way, look what you’d have missed!

  • –Ahhh, the road less traveled.

    thank you for bringing me to Sicily, dear Jann. xxx ooo

  • OH,I have just fallen in lOVE…………TANTI GRAZIE for the beautiful photos and do we get to see the VILLA in another post I hope!

  • I am waiting for the sequel “what we saw in Palermo”

  • Anywhere else this would have been a story of lost time, Jann. But in your eyes and in your hands it turns into a wonderful mini adventure and a postcard of beloved Sicily. Thank you for loving the place so much and for sharing the love! xox

  • Angelo

    Nice photos and love your commentaries. I’ve always pestered my wife about visiting Sicily in winter. By the way, that abandonned house with the persimmon walls…was it for sale, lol? It looks like a little corner of heaven.

    • Jann

      Angelo, I really like winter in Sicily–pochi turisti–but you’ve got to be prepared for some chilly interiors, especially, and bring the long undies.

  • Tim Crowley

    Your husband looks so lost and embarrassed on the dirt road!

  • Jann, I love how you make your posts into stories! The pictures are wonderful. I can’t wait till we are back and instead of writing about things in Sicily in my blog, I can write about what I am doing there! @Diane Johnston, I am so with you there. We are about 150 days 2 hours and, oh, 35 minutes until we return, but then, whose counting, right? Just can’t wait!

  • I remember how cold those mountains are! Had a little shiver when I read that!!

  • I am a new follower so wanted to leave a comment. Your photo’s are divine-Giovanni & his animals just grand + you are blessed! xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

  • lisa

    Fabulous! Can’t wait to come see for myself. My trip to Sicily is coming up soon:)

  • Diane Johnston

    Grazie! I look forward to receiving all your stories and pictures! I am moving to Sicily in the near future and it is unbearable that it is taking so long. Your blog makes me feel like I am there….even if its only for a few minutes.

  • riccardo losacano


    Love following your work. An inspiration. We are moving to Linguaglossa in June! In pic…I think Giovanni has pecore not goats. a piu tardi, Riccardo

    • Jann

      Ciao Riccardo…Fantastico about your upcoming Etna adventure!
      Yes, you’re so right–those are pecore in the photo, though he had some big brown goats, too. A piu tarde…

  • sue gaughan

    I really must visit Sicily one day soon! your photos are so inviting!

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