According to healthknowing, Palermo is a city of contrasts: one street is in ruins, the other glitters with bright tinsel of fashionable hotels and boutiques with dizzying prices. But the one who can find a common language with his unceasing energy, complete non-compliance with traffic rules and general chaos, will fall in love with him forever. Unlike Florence or Rome, many of the city’s treasures are hidden, not shiny, torn out by hundreds of thousands of shoes from an endless stream of tourists. Get ready to explore: Palermo boasts a gigantic collection of palaces, castles and churches with a unique mixture of Byzantine, Arab, Norman or Renaissance architectural styles. On the other hand, it is a city of modernity, wide avenues, seductive shops and beautiful 19th century mansions.
Once both an Arab emirate and part of the Norman kingdom, Palermo became the greatest city in Europe in the 12th century. But in recent years, his notoriety has faded, mainly due to tabloid headlines about murder and political corruption. The mafia still holds the city by the throat, many locals demand 24-hour police surveillance, which, however, may well become a reality soon.
The picturesque beach of Mondello is surrounded by cliffs and Mediterranean pine groves. In the high season, crowds of tourists try to accommodate on a narrow strip of sand 2 km away, but this does not stop those who want to sunbathe.
Shopping in Palermo
What are the first things tourists look for in the shops and malls of Palermo? That’s right – brands and more brands! There are plenty of them in the capital of Sicily. You can profit from the products of famous (mainly Italian) couturiers in the Piazza Verdi area and on Via della Liberta. More affordable prices await buyers on Via Maqueda. They sell not only clothes, shoes and accessories created by local designers, but also souvenirs, incense, and perfumes. Via Ruggero Settimo has a wide variety of original interior items and jewelry.
For “space” discounts go to the outlet Sicilia Outlet Village (website), located on the road to Catania. There is a free bus from Palermo.
When planning a shopping route, you need to take into account that small shops and shops do not work in the evenings after 20:00, and on Saturday – only until 13:00. In the popular shopping centers Conca Doro (Via Giuseppe Lanza di Scalea, 1963), Dell Oglio (off. site in English), Forum di Palermo (via Pecoraino) are happy to serve customers all week from 9:00 to 21:00 (22:00).
Don’t miss out on the markets, especially the Ballaro Mercato on Via Ballaro 1. They sell freshly caught seafood, fruits, Italian delicacies and Godfather-style antiques.
Winter sales in Palermo start on the first Friday (Saturday) of January and continue until the beginning or middle of March. Summer starts in early July and ends closer to the second half of September. The exact dates are set by law every year in the national calendar. During this period, discounts on designer items reach 50-70%.
Cuisine and restaurants
A raid on restaurants in Palermo risks turning into an exciting excursion if you set out to thoroughly study the island cuisine. In establishments with Michelin stars, it is expensive, elegant and a little pretentious. In a fish trattoria or a pizzeria, it is cozy and incredibly tasty in a family way. In the markets, where you can taste the masterpieces of local street food literally for a penny, the true Sicilian spirit lives.
A meal with wine in a restaurant with average prices will cost 50-70 EUR for two. At McDonald’s, a Big Mac with a drink costs about 10 EUR. For a snack in an inexpensive trattoria or cafe, tourists give up to 15-20 EUR per person.
Sicilian cuisine is like a whimsical kaleidoscope of Arabic, African, Greek, Spanish and French gastronomic traditions. The chefs are especially good at seafood dishes. What they just do not make from octopuses, clams, shrimp and scallops! Also in high esteem are dishes from vegetables. But less attention is paid to meat, although there are always a couple of beef and rabbit dishes on the menu.
You can have breakfast with stuffed rice balls, chickpea fritters or a piece of scaccata pie, a Sicilian street food classic. The best choice for lunch is Palermitana pasta with raisins, parmesan and sardines. If there is room in the stomach for the second course, then you should try the “giotta” – a stew of fish, vegetables and aromatic herbs. For dinner, an eggplant casserole or a light orange salad will do. Well, local desserts: “cannoli” with ricotta and “cassata” biscuit are not a sin to feast on throughout the day.
Attractions and attractions in Palermo
The ancient capital of the island, Palermo is now a large port city with Istanbul streets, Arab mosques converted into churches, and palaces of Norman kings. It does not have many attractions in the “Roman” sense of the word.
The hallmark of the city is its churches, of which there are almost 300. The historic center of Palermo Quattro Canti is considered the second largest in Italy. The complex of the Norman Palace is interesting there, where the rulers of the island lived from the 7th century, and in the 16th century the Spanish governor settled. This building is an example of unique Arab-Norman architecture. The building is not empty even today, it is used for meetings of the regional parliament. The Palatine chapel of the castle, decorated with Byzantine mosaics and rich paintings, has been preserved almost in its original form since the 12th century.
You can tickle your nerves in the Capuchin Catacombs, where the bodies of noble and revered Sicilians who died in past centuries are literally paraded. An eerie sight is located in the basement of the monastery. During walks, the grandiose Cathedral on Via Vittorio Emanuele immediately catches your eye. It was built in a mixture of Gothic and Moorish styles with the addition of elements of classicism. The history of the temple began in the distant 12th century. Inside, the relics of the patroness of the city, Saint Rosalia, are kept, as well as the remains of the Sicilian rulers.
From the observation deck on Monte Pellegrino (600 m) offers an impressive panorama of the city and the sea.
It is worth visiting the International Puppet Museum (Piazza Antonio Pasqualino, 5) to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the medieval puppet theater, which has always been popular in Sicily. Also noteworthy is the Museum of Islam in the complex of the Zisa Castle (Piazza Zisa).
The famous Teatro Massimo in Piazza Verdi is one of the most impressive opera stages in Italy. It was built in the best traditions of classicism. Tourists wander there not so much to listen to the vociferous Italian tenors as to take pictures against the backdrop of the famous staircase, which became the backdrop for the tragic denouement of the Godfather movie saga. Well, the local market “Vucciria”, located on the square of the same name, is the life and customs of modern Palermo “in the flesh.”
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Palermo pleases tourists with a mild climate, positive temperatures all year round, bright sun and little rain. Any month is suitable for a trip, but if you are planning a beach holiday, then it is better to opt for July, June and August, when the sea temperature is as comfortable as possible for swimming. In January, February and March, the sky is increasingly cloudy, but this is not a hindrance for excursions. Palermo never gets too hot, cold, humid or windy. And for a Russian tourist, hardened by bitter frosts, the mild climate of the Mediterranean is almost ideal.