We arrived in Palermo by plane from Venice. And even though it was very hot in Venice too, already at Palermo airport I realized that we had arrived in the south!!!
Simple, unpretentious buildings, palm trees. An extraordinary, southern atmosphere. Sicily is quite different from the rest of Italy.
On the first evening we were struck by the huge number of weddings. Hot Sicilians?
For some unknown reason, the historic center of the city is populated by Indians.
In the architecture of the city there are buildings of all possible styles, from Arabic to Norman, from Baroque to Art Nouveau. Especially we liked the main city cathedral.
On the square in front of the cathedral there was some kind of meeting of the local police!
It was just like in the famous TV series “Sprut” about commissar Catani!
Speaking of the Mafia. Under Mussolini, Cosa Nostra was in the pen. The dictator didn’t want a state within a state. But after the landing of the “Allies” in 1943, the FBI was rumored to have arranged with the American dons to have Cosa Nostra help them take over the island. Anyway, it was the Mafiosi who became the first elected mayors of Sicilian cities in 1945! And it was they who achieved the autonomous status of Sicily in the Italian Republic, which the island enjoys to this day!
The entire center of Palermo was cordoned off because of this rally. There was a serious traffic jam!
The Arabs took Palermo in 831 and made it the capital of the island. A hundred years later, with 100,000 inhabitants and 300 mosques, Palermo is the fourth largest city in the Mediterranean Sea after Constantinople, Cairo and Cordoba.
The city’s calling card can be considered the Christian churches topped with red “Moorish” domes resembling mosques. Such is the famous San Giovanni degli Eremiti. They say that a similar “Islamic deja vu” can be experienced only in Spanish Andalusia. There is nothing to be surprised about – Sicily was Muslim for two centuries.
But the architecture of the late Middle Ages is also present in sufficient quantity
Pretoria Fountain in the city center even reminded us of Florence :))
In general, Palermo is a very warm southern port city!
You can easily walk in the shade of palm trees,
Pick lemons that grow in the city park,
And of course, you can go to the market!
Such small grocery markets are the best way to talk about the national cuisine!
Of interest: fun home-made maasdam cheese,
small fish anchovies,
and of course a variety of sea creatures, from octopus to .
to the famous swordfish, which we have been dreaming to see!
And of course, how can you imagine Sicily without the marionette theater? We were lucky enough to catch a performance at the museum for local schoolchildren.
But not only the architecture we were interested in Sicily. After a week-long cultural and historical tour “Rome-Florence-Venice” my brain and body needed a break
In the vicinity of Palermo there is a very cozy beach – Mondelo Beach.
September did its work. There are almost no people on the beach. Sun beds are empty, lifeguards on the tower are out of work.
These booths along the entire beach can be rented for the whole summer to store there chairs, a table, toys for children. It’s amazing that despite the almost year-round heat, Sicilians love the sun so much.
You don’t want to rent booths or buy sun loungers, just come with your own chair
Mondello beach is fantastic! The shallow sea, white sand.
But the most important thing is the water. Tale.
On the first day of our vacation we had fantastic weather – a light breeze with absolutely smooth water. Perfect conditions for learning windsurfing!
But three days in Palermo ran very fast. It’s time to move on!
We went to Naples on SNAV’s huge eight-story ferry.
Before the nine-hour ferry ride, we shopped at McDonald’s and it turned out that the ship had a whole huge floor dedicated to a restaurant, with a dining room and bar/restaurant.
Early in the morning, after a ten-hour voyage, we arrived in Naples. The sun was rising over Vesuvius!
What to see in Palermo
What to see in and around Palermo in 1-3 days for a solo traveler? Itineraries, ticket prices and excursions 2022. Eurotraveler.ru found out where to stay in Palermo.
Sicily, despite the fact that the largest island in Italy, can not yet boast of stunning popularity among travelers. Its reputation as a province, and, moreover, a province notorious for dubious crime, does not encourage a surge of optimism among those seeking safe adventures.
If beach tourists more or less find their way to the resort of Taormina and Cefalù, the other island attractions are still in relative oblivion. And are visited only if accompanied by a seaside holiday.
To see Palermo rarely come especially. It is usually done on the occasion: the capital of Sicily diversifies the program of cruises on the Mediterranean Sea and dispels the boredom of lazy holidaymakers. Although, if it were in Lombardy, it would be full of curious travelers.
Attractions in Palermo
The starting point is Palermo Centrale, the city’s main railway station. It is connected to the main Sicilian airport Falcone-Borsellino (Punta Raisi station) as well as to all other settlements of the island.
First of all, we recommend that you direct your steps towards La Martorana. That is, the church of Santa Maria del Ammirallo, known for its literally magnificent Byzantine mosaics of the XII century. The richness of the interior would be the envy of the Venetian basilica of San Marco.
Next is worth seeing the cathedral of Palermo, which has largely retained its original features of the XII-XIII centuries. On the way we pay attention to the spacious Piazza Pretoria with a grandiose “Fountain of Shame” in the middle. By the way, it is 16th century, the work of Florentine Camilliano!
- If desired, we visit the Church of St. Catherine, whose side facade forms the entire side of the square!
Next on the program is the interesting baroque square Quattro Canti, that is, the “Four Corners”. The facades, “hugging” the regular octagon, are designed in the same style, their lower tiers decorated with fountains. The church of San Giuseppe dei Teatini is literally installed in one of the houses.
It is literally impossible not to visit the main temple of Palermo. And you get inside through the pretty three-arch portico of the Gambara, dating back to the 15th century . The chapel to the left of the entrance keeps the porphyry sarcophagi of the Norman kings of Sicily of the Hohenstaufen dynasty.
From an architectural point of view the main, western, facade of the cathedral is interesting. It is connected to the bell tower by two arrow-shaped arches spanning the Via Bonello.
The next item on the day’s repertoire is Palazzo Normani, which is only a few minutes’ walk from the cathedral. Both the royal palace itself, with the private apartments of the monarchs, and the jewel of the complex, the Palatine Chapel, require special attention.
- You can spend inside the palace not 30 minutes… and the price of admission tickets hints at it (12 €)!
This is the end of the first day of sightseeing in Palermo. Unless you, of course, want to consolidate the experience on a private tour of the city. After that you will have only to return to the train station or walk to your hotel you won’t be able to leave beforehand.
Where to stay
We tend to recommend inexpensive and close to the station hotel B&B Ballarattik. Its rooms are quite spacious, each with a balcony and air conditioning, and the guests are served breakfast.
Even more advantageous, near the square of the same name, is the B&B Hotel Palermo Quattro Canti. It is noticeably more expensive, but has a rooftop terrace with wonderful panoramas.
In an old mansion not far from the port is the Hotel Joli. Guests praise the beautiful interiors, cleanliness and warm hospitality of the staff. A hearty breakfast is included in the accommodation price.
Since the day before you didn’t see one of the Sicily’s highlights and Palermo itself, you must start there. We’re talking about the famous Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin in the town of Monreale.
The XII century, Arab-Norman architecture, lush Byzantine mosaics, a forest of 228 carved columns surrounding the courtyard, i.e. cloister. Fountains, greenery, powerful views of Palermo…
Despite the ridiculous distance (8 kilometers from the train station) it is not easy to reach by public transport: www.monrealeduomo.it/page.php?36. But it is certainly worth it.
A rented car will make it a lot easier to get yourself there and back. But driving in Sicily is actually hard to be called a pleasure.
The rest of the day you can devote to city museums. For example, the archaeological museum of Antonio Salinas. In its kind one of the best not only in Italy, but also in Europe in general.
- It is closed on Mondays, adult ticket costs only 3 €: www.regione.sicilia.it/beniculturali/salinas/informazioni.htm!
You can also spend an hour in the Regional Gallery of Sicily, housed in the fifteenth-century Gothic Palazzo Abatelis. If you don’t believe the reviews on Tripadvisor saying that 8 € for so many picturesque paintings is “not enough”.
It could very well be occupied by out-of-town trips. Either designed by yourself or organized by someone else.
Then again, you might as well spend a day relaxing on the beach – the same Mondello beach is well known outside of Sicily as well.
There’s no argument, there’s very little space left on it during the summer months. But if you’re in Sicily on a weekday in September, you can enjoy the sea and the sun in a small group.
We can safely recommend an excursion to Erice and Segesta. Both independent, and with a guide – for it you will have to pay a little more than 160 euros.
However, the investment will definitely pay off. These two Sicilian sights in the province of Trapani are a must-see when in Palermo.
Erice is a wonderful old town on the rock. The temple of Segesta is the remnant of the ancient polis, which seems to have been built by the Trojans. A perfectly preserved temple with Doric columns, but without a roof is definitely worth seeing!
San Vito Lo Capo and Trapani
The first is a famous and incredibly scenic resort, located 110 km (on the highway) from Palermo. Every year it becomes more and more popular as a seaside holiday destination.
So much so, that the local beach is not empty even in autumn! However, as you probably know, even in October you can swim in Sicily!
Near the resort, and by the way, on the way to Palermo, is the wonderful Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro park. If you have a couple of hours of time, be sure to stop by!
As for Trapani, it’s best to take a guided walk through it. Listen to stories about the good old days, the salt mines and the windmills.
Lovers of antiquities will definitely put on their list of places to visit near Palermo and Selinunt. For the local archaeological park is considered the largest in Europe!
Travelers can’t believe it when they discover that they can see SEVEN ancient temples. However, the degree of ruin varies.
The drive from Palermo to Selinunte takes 1.5 hours (105 km) and costs 6 € for an adult ticket. Every first Sunday of the month you can visit the excavation for free: selinunte.gov.it/orari-e-tariffe/.
If you are not coming from Cefalù, you can see the town about 70 km to the east. It is a well known resort, but has lost none of its true Sicilian charm.
The imposing Romanesque cathedral of the XII century is the main attraction of Cefalù. The view that opens from the top of the fortress rock is absolutely gorgeous. To tell you the truth, such beauty makes many people speechless for a while.
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