For centuries the charming city of Palermo, located on Sicily’s north-west coast, has welcomed visitors as the island’s capital city. Steeped in history and culture, it also has a mischievous ambiance and a jumping urban buzz.
Surrounded by the most endearing rural scenes and a crystal-clear coast, this oh-so-Sicilian coastal town is a perfect short-stay, or gentler longer-stay kick-back holiday destination.
Palermo is particularly pleasant during the spring and autumn months, which offer the best opportunities to explore the town’s rich mix of exhibits (Arab-style domes, glittering Baroque churches, Gothic palaces, calming chapels and an historical port) and the neighbouring countryside and villages. Life goes by at that gentle, customary south-Mediterranean pace, and it slows yet further as the summer heat arrives.
One of the city’s charms is that you can while away hours exploring the labyrinth of steep, sleepy streets, flourishing markets, historical buildings and dramatic hill-hugging sea views, in the knowledge that you are never far away from the ink-blue seafront, beach and busy harbour.
Highlights include the Church of Casa Professa (with exquisite art by Ignazio Marabitti, Pietro Novelli, Vito D’Anna, Giacomo and Procopio Serpotta) and the historical buildings of Palazzo Comitini, Palazzo Sant’Elia, Palazzo delle Ferrovie and Palazzo Jung.
Furthermore, as your energy grows, you can enjoy strolling around pretty palazzos and piazzas – including Palazzo Abatellis, Palazzo Mirto, Piazza Marina, Villa Garibaldi, Palazzo Steri.
I would also highly recommend exploring the coastal region of Mondello with its delightful seafront setting (between the two cliffs of Mount Gallo and Pellegrino), and the opportunities to promenade and sample the broad selection of seafood markets.
Additionally, Monreale, 15km inland from Palermo on the slopes of Monte Caputa has cracking views across the lush La Conca d’Oro valley, as well as the world famous UNESCO Heritage Site Arab-Norman-Byzantine cathedral, dating back to 1174.
All this, and Palermo also boasts Italy’s largest opera house, exciting new eateries, busy bars and a hedonistic night culture with a vibrant music and club scene.
And that’s all before you’ve sampled the world-famous local vino and traditional culinary customs.