Sicily, Italy, two




climb summit good/better/best
hope volcano blow/blew/blown (2)
join combine storm (2)
mix eruption generation
fertile geology civilization
full explore full-bodied
tasty serenade exuberant
scene palace judge (3)
inland head (4) spring (2)
ritzy scruffy reminder
kick mosaic top-down
boot point (3) colony (2)
villa rule (2) parade (2)
chaos cynical in order to
usher ancient adventure
corral absentee metropolis
thrive heritage overlord
lively elegance surrounded
resort spirit (2) exploration
invite compete commotion
gritty wander boisterous
scene stall (2) buy/bought/bought
snack attention entertaining
lyrics conquer good/better/best
slice masses foreboding
gawk unique domination
odd facade population
bit mosque stand/stood/stood (2)
boil scramble gene pool
hoof rule (2) generation
push mark (2) leave their mark
pull sprinkle architecture
gene massive cathedral
fund landlord reflect (2)
mire poverty date back
glory vignette persistent
accept vigorous corruption
fertile wage (2) inclined (2)
ebb rein in campaign
gather hangout lead/led/led
boring influence nowhere near
crime flourish organized crime
rustic capture character (2)
renew gentrify feel/felt/felt (2)
grand safe (2) corner (2)
main tragedy landmark
layer niche (2) thoroughfare
statue scale (3) divide (2)
ritual temple oppression
stroll countess assassinate
local gang (2) conviviality
enjoy routine intersection
rough upscale hide/hid/hidden
snout elegance aristocratic
retain common pay/paid/paid


Video (until 8:00)




Hi, I’m Rick Steves, back with more of the best of Europe. And this time, we’re climbing to the summit of Sicily — and hoping this volcano doesn’t blow. Thanks for joining us.

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Sicily is a fertile mix — both geologically and culturally. Eruptions from its volcano, lots of sun, generations of hard work, so many civilizations storming through over the centuries all combine, and what you get is a full-bodied and tasty travel experience. Salute.

Along with summiting an active volcano, we’ll explore Palermo . . . be serenaded in its exuberant markets . . . welcomed into a countess’ palace, and join the passeggiata scene.

Heading inland, we’ll ponder an ancient Greek temple, marvel at Roman mosaics, and finish in a ritzy resort.

Sicily marks the center of the Mediterranean. It looks like a football being kicked by the Italian “boot.” We start in Palermo, explore the Greek temples at Agrigento, the Roman villa at Piazza Armerina, scale Mount Etna, and finish in Taormina.

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Palermo is a great starting point to untangle the story of Sicily. The island was a thriving Greek colony 500 years before Christ. Then came ancient Rome for a few centuries; then it fell.

After some chaos, Sicily flourished again in the 9th and 10th centuries under Arab rule. Then, in the 11th century, the Normans came. While they ushered in Sicily’s glory days, the parade of conquerors just kept on coming.

Palermo, Sicily’s main city and historic capital, is a busy port corralled by mountains. A noisy and energetic metropolis, its architecture reflects the rule of its many overlords, as well as its rich heritage.

Walking the lively streets, you’re surrounded by a scruffy elegance. The city invites exploration.

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You feel the city’s boisterous spirit in its markets. Here at the gritty Ballarò Market, you’ll wander among a commotion of stalls all competing for the buyer’s attention.

It’s an entertaining scene, complete with singing salesmen, each with his own unique style. Whether you understand the lyrics or not, this slice of life market action is some of the best in Europe.

And don’t just gawk — adventure in, try something new. Just like his father did, Pippo sells the odd bits of the cow — it’s all boiled from hoof to snout.

And I’m picking its nose. You take a little cow, you cut off his nose, you boil it, sprinkle a little salt, you got a snack.

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1,000 years ago, after Sicily was conquered by the Arabs in the 9th century, Palermo was one of Europe’s leading cities. With a population of 100,000, it was second only to Córdoba in Spain.

In its Arab days, it had about 300 mosques. Later, the Normans from France pushed out the Arabs, and it became Christian again, building great churches where grand mosques once stood.

Sicily’s complicated history of domination — which scrambled the gene pool — can be seen in the faces of its people: Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, French, Spanish, and Italians have all captured and ruled this island, at some point.

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Sicily’s many rulers also left their mark with grand architecture. This gate was part of a once-foreboding Spanish wall, and the massive cathedral was funded by Normans from France. And what Italian city doesn’t have a fine opera house?

Conquerors also left their mark economically and socially. A history of absentee landlords dating all the way back to the Romans left Sicily mired in a persistent poverty.

And centuries of this top-down oppression left a culture inclined to accept corruption and to be cynical toward the law.

Because of that, organized crime — called the “Mafia” here — became a part of Sicilian society. This made Palermo a dangerous place.

But the power of organized crime in Sicily has ebbed. In the 1990s, the government waged a vigorous campaign to finally rein in the mafia. These two leading judges who led the charge were assassinated.

This tragedy finally turned the public against organized crime and today, it has nowhere near the power and influence it once had.

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While Palermo certainly retains its rustic character, in the last generation, the city has renewed itself with gentrified neighborhoods and upscale shops and hotels. And today, Palermo feels as safe as any Italian city.

The Quattro Canti, that means “four corners,” is a Palermo landmark. The intersection of two main thoroughfares, it divides the city into its four historic neighborhoods.

The niches hold statues of the four Spanish kings of Sicily, another reminder of this island’s many-layered history.

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And from here, early each evening, springs the ritual of the passeggiata. Strolling from here to the opera house is endlessly entertaining, offering vignettes of local life and culture.

As the workday ends, people gather at their favorite hangouts. Here at Taverna Azzurra, it’s a colorful scene, where the neighborhood gang enjoys the same old routine, but a never boring conviviality.

Behind Palermo’s rough facades hides some welcoming aristocratic elegance. – Buona sera. We’re joining a tour of the palace of a Sicilian noble family. Count Federico and his Austrian wife, like many nobles, need to open their world to the common masses in order pay their bills.

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Sicily. Sicily is a completely flat island. True or false? Does the presenter make a sports comparison?

Sardinia. Is Sicily a very old place? Does it have an ancient history?

Ibiza. The presenter strolled in a new shopping mall. Is this right or wrong? Is the market (bazaar) quiet and empty?

Majorca. Has Sicily always been a part of Italy? Has Rome always governed Sicily?

Cyprus. Sicily is the wealthiest, most developed part of Italy. Is this correct or incorrect? Why has Sicily traditionally been poor?

Corsica. Is Palermo and entirely new, modern city? Is the architecture of Palermo entirely modern in style?

Rhodes. Do Sicilians spend most of their time indoors, watching TV and surfing the internet?
Ikaria. I was born in Italy. I am from Italy. I live in Italy. Yes or no? Have you or your friends visited Italy?

Spain. What do you associate with Sicily? What comes to mind when you think of Sicily?

Italy. Are there cathedrals, mansions, opera houses and theaters in your city? Are opera, ballet and drama performances popular?

Greece. Are open markets popular in your town or city?

Lebanon. My friends and I would like to live in Sicily or an island. Yes or no?

Crete. Would you like to go on a Mediterranean cruise?

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