Palermo Mini Guide
Introduction to Palermo
Palermo is the capital city of Sicily and it is located on the north coast of the island. The city is noted for its history and culture as well as its architecture and gastronomy. Palermo is over 2,700 years old.
How do I get There?
There are flights from Italy
and Europe into Palermo Airport and then you can take a bus or train into the city, they run every half hour. You can also take a train from major cities in Italy to Palermo. Within Sicily you can travel by train and in the city you can use the metro system or AMAT buses. Ferries also arrive in Palermo from Malta
as well as Italy. The city’s attractions can easily be explored by foot.
What is There to See in Palermo?
Firstly, go and see the Cathedral, it is honey coloured and has Catalan influences in its design. Frederick II who died in 1250, is buried there. In this old part of the city, you can see the Quattro Canti, an old crossroads that now is almost octagonal and see the church of La Martorana with its Byzantine mosaics. The Palazzo del Normanni is a beautiful Italian palace with Norman architecture and it houses the Capella Palantina, a chapel with mosaics and Arabian decoration. Take a walk through Piazza Pretoria and stop by the Fontana Pretoria, a pretty fountain.
What Else can I do?
Take a drive out in your hire car to Monte Pellegrino and see panoramic views of the city and the sea or visit the suburb of Monreal for the views and visit the Duomo (cathedral). To get a quiet moment in this busy city, take time out at the Palermo Botanical Gardens. For a little culture and drama, go and see an opera at the Teatro Massimo, the 3rd largest theatre in Europe.
Tell me About the Food
Go for a walk around the Vuccino a market in the heart of Palermo, where you will find the best in local produce. Why not make up a picnic and head for the hills? Go to Al Chioschetto where they make fresh sandwiches and you pick from the range of meats on display. A favourite of Palermo is the ‘panino con la milza’, a sandwich with veal spleen – not to every ones taste!
For traditional Sicilian fare, have dinner at Il Proverbio Restaurant or eat al fresco at Foccacceria San Francesco. Try the famous ‘arancine’ (fried rice balls stuffed with meat or cheese) and ‘sfincione’ (a local thick pizza style dish). Finish you meal with a lemon granita or hazelnut ice cream from Gelato Ciccio, the best in town.
Are There any Festivals?
Many festivals and special events are held in Palermo. The biggest event in the city is on July 15 when a feast day is held for the city’s patron saint, St Rosalia. It is believed she freed the city from the Black Death in 1624. Her bones were found in a cave on Monte Pellegrino and the relics were carried around the city three times and then the curse was lifted.
Whilst Palermo doesn’t have the initial appeal of some of Italy’s more famous cities it should definitely be on a visitor’s list. It’s a very important port and one of the country’s oldest cities. Today, many of the sights date from much more recent times, with earthquakes having destroyed much of the earlier heritage.
If you have a hire car there are a number of must-see attractions. One should be the Catacombe dei Cappuccini where the mummified remains of over seven thousand inhabitants are kept in a crypt. Some are dressed in their original clothes, others simply piles of bones.