Before our train arrived in Palermo, the men in our car were quickly telling us it would be OK.
"Don't worry. They don't hurt women and children," a young man said in English. He warned us about the mafia.
My roommate Betsy and I decided to travel to Sicily on our break from classes in Florence. Others in our program planned to visit other parts of Europe, but we decided to work our way down the boot and visit Sicily.
It was the best travel decision I made throughout my study abroad program. Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterrean Sea and has a long history — I couldn't name all the rulers back then and had to look at Wikipedia for a reminder — Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Arabs and Normans to name a few.
I enjoyed visiting the ruins from the various periods in Sicily's history. It all added up to a diverse culture.
I took pictures at ruins and in cities, but didn't take many in Palermo. The men on the train were not the only ones to warn us about the dangers of the city. Police officers also stopped me a couple of times and told me not to take pictures. They warned me of the dangers of being in the city.
Despite the fear-filled warnings, we had the most fun in Palermo thanks to a couple of guys, who decided to make sure we enjoyed our stay. I returned to Florence with a variety of new experiences.
One adventure left my friend Giuseppe feeing a bit behind. Before Sicily, I told him I'd never been on a motorcycle.
When he arrived to pick me up in Florence with his motorcycle, he seemed confused when I said, "Oh, I've been on motorcycles."
Thinking it somehow explained everything, I said, "I was in Sicily for a week."