Our day started well. We were up a bit later than we wanted, but we had bought some rice balls which are a sicilian dish, the night before. While I showered, Anne heated them up and we had some breakfast. Anne was doing a bit of work, so I headed down to the car to get the water bottle to fill.
The car was parked right outside our Airbnb - we couldn't have been closer. In a 24/7 free park in a good area. Our Airbnb host said it was fine.
The car wasn't there. I walked around looking for another Fiat Panda - and there was one, but it didn't unlock and it wasn't ours. I went up to the apartment and told the security guy - he remembered us from yesterday when we had arrived and he also looked.
He then rang Viviana our host and she came over.
I went up again and told Anne. I stayed in the apartment with our stuff while she checked. She and Viviana came up together - the car was definitely gone. Anne rang the police and then Maggiore our rental company and was told to head to the police station to report it stolen. Roberto (Viviana's husband) drove us there and report signed.
Over to Maggiore. They then told us that the car wasn't stolen, but had been towed away. We thought that was a bit off as it was in a perfectly okay area. Even though we had full insurance, they would not give us a replacement car. However, they wouldn't tell us where the car had been towed to, nor could we pick it up because a stolen report was now issued on it.
By this time we felt like we were being played, or part of a scam.
Before going back to the police station, Anne rang the company that she booked the car with (Rentalcars.com). They were fantastic. Anne put them on to the guy at Maggiore, who then told them that the car had been stolen - so he was giving out two stories - one to us, and one to the car rental booking office. Regardless, he should have issued another car to us immediately.
So it was back to the police station to try and remove the stolen report so we could find the car and pick it up. I felt uncomfortable lifting the stolen report as it leaves us in no mans land for insurance.
Anne went into the police station wtih Roberto, and they were told the car had definitely been stolen as they had not towed it anyway and didn't have the car anywhere.
So then it was back to the rental car office Maggiore. By this time Viviana was at the rental car company as well. I'm not sure what she said, and she had her son with her (whom we found out later had just done a law degree), and finally Maggiore issued us with a replacement car. On the understanding that we park it in a secure garage overnight, otherwise we will have to pay for the whole car ourselves if this one was stolen.
We kept fairly calm - thank goodness we had Roberto who mainly dealt with Maggiore in Italian, and he was also very calm and polite. In my opinion, the guy at Maggiore was unhelpful and really didn't care about our predicament. When I asked Viviana, why couldn't we have just been issued with a new car three hours ago - she said - "It's Palermo"!
I have to admit I was pretty angry being treated the way we had been treated, and on more than one occasion I felt like I could burst into tears, but they were more of an anger response than anything else.
Roberto and Viviana insisted they take us out to lunch before heading on our way. We wanted to take them to lunch but they wouldn't hear of it! They took us to a really neat Sicilian restaurant that had everything - Pastas, Pizza's, Pastries, Gelato...
New Zealand needs to start presenting Gelato like the Italians...
We each got something Sicilian and shared it and had a glass of wine - much needed to calm the nerves!
And here's our Saviours of the Day - Roberto and Viviana! Without them I think we would still be at the car company arguing our case!
So - instead of getting to these amazing sights around Palermo - we decided to start heading to Trapani and only stopping twice. First up was the Catacombs of the Capuchin Monks. I had seen this on Trip Advisor and had read a blog about it so was keen to see it. 8000 residents and the monks are preserved in underground tunnels, created in the 16th century when they outgrew their cemetary. Today it's a tourist attraction, somewhat macabre, but interesting nonetheless.
Of course you weren't meant to take photos. Probably because they didn't want the flash disintegrating things, but I don't use flash, and there were postcards for sale at the top. So I discreetly took some!
Beware - the following photos might not be to your taste...
Sometimes I felt like I was in some sort of Stephen King movie...Many still had skin and hair on their faces which I found surprising.
An example of the tunnels and how they were presented...
The average time in the tomb for tourists was 45 minutes - we spent approximately 30 minutes!
Then it was onto Monreale - a small town within Palermo on top of a cliff with a massive cathedral and beautiful cloisters! A wedding was in progress...
And the cloisters were okay - but not as beautiful as some I have seen. We then headed to Segestra, an archaeology area. Through this tunnel...
I got in free because I was deaf, and Anne got in free because she had to take care of me! Perfect! In fact, I did need her help coming down as it was steep. The temple was only 250 metres from the carpark but it was all uphill!
We found an ancient dam as well - Roman times!
These were catapults used by enemies trying to break the walls!
And then we arrived in Trapani - and walked int the town. It's lovely. Another Cathedral...
The ceiling was beautiful.
We found a great wine shop that sold wine from the barrel for 1.50 euros. Cheap. And it was good wine. I had the Syrah.
Anne took this photo - as you can see there are no seats so everyone just sits on the pavement outside drinking the wine...
So we did too!
I didn't take too many photos - but this is what the old town of Trapani looks like!
So - tomorrow is another day - I hope we don't get too many adventures like the one we had today!