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Pablo: memories and stories of Palermo

Today's article is a lovely reading. Andrea Imbrosciano tells us about memories and emotions of his journeys in Palermo, in early 2000.  In one of these, he established the first 10 routes of the Pablo climbing area, together with Fabrice Calabrese.

A few minutes to get into a special atmosphere. 

Good start of week to all!

Pablo, primi anni 2000
Sotto le pareti del Monte Pellegrino, 2003 circa
ar. Andrea Imbrosciano


This city has a peculiarity: some districts have, in addition to their character in life and culture, a climbing spot too. Thus Palermo, city of art and culture, offers a great union of urban tourism and outdoor activities.

February 2003.

On the continent it was winter, but in Palermo, we were good: a warm sun increased our desire to climb and try new Iines. I admit that for me, got used to shoveling snow, was a little too warm.

After an exciting evening with my friend Igna, guru and historical climber of Palermo, and with other components fo the climber groups of the Ciro,  gathered to welcome the new continental guy, or to understand what and how things were done on the other side of the Straits of Messina (in this regard, I can assure you that even then, the Palermitan climbers were far ahead), we all met, not early in the morning, as usual there, in Valdesi, a climbing city park, accessible by bike from anywhere in the city. A step away from the sea, and from a bar where you can have all good things, including the genuine baked "arancines".

After some routes, I decided to take a walk (“miiiiiiiiiiii where are you going?”, they said) and went toward the Bunker. I have always been fascinated by the rock, but much more by its colors. But, while I was walking along the rock wall, I looked up, I didn't even see the stunning rock of that side of Mount Pellegrino: it's superb, weirdly carved, mostly white with geometrically roundish buckets.

Palermo, 2003 circa
Palermo agli inizi del 2000
ar. Andrea Imbrosciano

While I was dreaming of climbing through those colors, a voice (only a voice, because I couldn't understand a single word) kept me from my fantasies. A guy waved me to join him and have a coffee (that he was making using an old-time Moka pot). Yes, this guy lived into the little cave on the left of that rock wall.

I sat there for a little while, but then I heard my friends looking for me, and went back. He begged me to visit him again, bringing a few friends to talk about things seen and people met.

I stayed there for another two days, without daring to propose new lines setting……….

The most excited about the rock wall that I found was Fabrice Calabrese. Thus I got some personal days and some bolts and in secret I went back there, aimed at giving the local climbers a gift, and, above all, a massive inauguration party at the bottom of the routes. This climbing spot has a very appreciable feature for the city of Palermo: it's one of the few rock walls in shadow, where you can climb during the hot days.

Pablo, agli inizi del 2000
Sotto le pareti di Monte Pellegrino, inizi del 2000
ar. Andrea Imbrosciano

What a special gift! But I couldn't show my happiness, because I was afraid to trouble Antonino, that lived in those caves. So, one day (I guess the day after we established the first routes in Pablo), I went there alone, and I apologized for the hassle. Antonino  looked at me with eyes full of excitement and said: ”My friend, take it easy, and live these moments!“

For years I have had troubles with the landowners, and also with the local authorities, his words encouraged me.

In the end, we finished and we were ready for the big party, Antonino, for the occasion, did the best to rearrange his little cave, and prepared a table filled with all sort of Palermitan delicacies.

The day of the party……….. it rained as never in Palermo. The climbing spot was named Pablo in honor of a visionary kid, and it seemed to us happy with the streams of water caressing its shiny rocky skin.

I went back to Sicily after many years, to set another area, with a very long approach: Mezzogiorno di Pietra.

Pablo, after the first enthusiasm, was abandoned, Antonino was gone, maybe moved in another cave, maybe with a sea view. Many guys had left climbing or Sicily. Only my friend Igna was still there.

Fabrice, after fighting so long, was no longer among us, but those colors, those shapes, those rocks remind us of his memory and his passion.

Pablo is all this, and now that, fortunately, lives a new life, I hope that it becomes a classic destination for every traveling climber.  Pablo, eternal rock in a living city. Ciao Pablo

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