As you know, Italy has a lot of touristic attractions. Rome, Venice, Florence, all cities full of wonders and rich of history, but Italy is not just this. There are a lot of other beautiful places, suitable for people who prefer the contact with nature or a different approach to the Italian culture and traditions. One of these attractions is Sicily.
Located in the North-West of the island, Palermo is one the most important Sicilian cities. It sums up all the features of its region: climate, landscapes, tastes and history. History in particular is a very important element, and this is due to the strategical position in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, a lot of populations went to Sicily (Phoenicians, Greeks, Latins, Arabians) and Palermo is the only city where you can see the rest of what all these populations left behind.
For a period of time, some of them even lived together, sharing the island and what it could offer; from that, Sicilian people inherited the ability to be open-minded and very tolerant towards other cultures.
Palermo was such a beautiful and rich city that it even became the capital of the Holy Roman Empire with Federico II (XIII century).
Then, what to visit in this beautiful city?
- Monuments & co. Teatro Massimo is the third biggest theatre in Europe; Piazza Politeama is a very big square always full of people of all the ages; Viale della Libertà is an Avenue full of shops and villas in Art Nouveau; the Cathedral is a marvellous structure made up of Byzantine, Arabian and Norman elements; the Arabian castle called La Zisa; then the Capuchin Catacombs, the Royal Palace and a lot of churches (La Martorana, Casa Professa…). So, a lot of things to see and you know what? All of these places are very close to each other, they are all located in the old town centre (Palermo’s city centre has the primate to be one of the biggest in the world). Nearby there is also the Duomo of Monreale, famous for its amazing golden mosaic of Christ Pantocrator.
- Nature. You can discover the beauty of the seaside going to Mondello, Isola delle Femmine, Natural reserve of Capo Gallo, or you can visit the traditional countryside and small villages on top of the Madonie Mountains (Petralia, Castellana or Ganci, that was even elected the most beautiful Italian village in 2013).
- Social life. Visit the traditional market of Ballarò to discover the tastes and the beautiful colours of Sicilian food and to understand the local people and life. Spend your evenings in the Magione to have a drink, or in the Vucciria to taste the traditional food.
Last but not least, do not forget to try traditional food like arancine (riceballs), pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardinas, dry raisins, pinenuts and fennel), pani ‘ccameusa (bread with spleen and lung), stigghiola (entrails of calf), panelle (chickpeas dough), crocchè (potatoes dough), sfincione (Palermo’s traditional pizza), and all the amazing seafood that this area offers.
Also try the sweets, as Sicilian pastry-making is known all over the world! Cassata siciliana (both the classical version and the baked one), cannoli siciliani (fried pastry filled with sweet ricotta, the main ingredient of every Sicilian sweets), gelo di melone (cream of watermelon), frutta martorana (fruits made of almonds dough, traditional of All Saints celebration), torta Setteveli (seven layers of different chocolate).
Palermo is a city full of beauties of all types. History, landscapes, beautiful weather, exceptional food. It is definitely a city worth visiting in every period of the year. A hint? On the 14th July there is the local festival to celebrate the patron of the city, Santa Rosalia, and the celebration usually takes three days. It could be the perfect occasion to discover the city in summer!