You won't sweat to find standard itineraries and description of Palermo on paper guidebooks and dozen of other websites. So we don't hammer in on it... On the contrary, we asked people who love/know/live Palermo to suggest their personal top five place, things, persons not to miss in the city
(if you got one please send it to us at info[at]visitpalermo.it)
Top Five in Palermo
Streets and alleys of Palermo:
can’t get enough of walking in Palermo. Staring at the varied architecture, listening to the clips of conversations (just the tone of them), smiling back to curious and friendly faces… and suddenly – a flash of green wings and a scream of a parrot!
just dive into a real dealing and get ready for making a fool of yourself – and don’t get it so seriously if you put your fingers to the wrong places and get some strict looks from the market salesmen.
in Piazzetta Porta Reale (Via Lincoln): very friendly staff and 10+ Sicilian style “snacks” like arancinos and pepitos etc.
close to Piazza Marina (C.so Vitt. Emanuelle 102): excellent food and very reasonable price.
This might come as a surprise… the public health care in Palermo and especially Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Policlinico Paolo Giaccone, Via del Vespro, 129. What a service and nice people! (picture taken in 2009 when I broke my angle)
by Sinikka Huttunen (http://alpakko.blogspot.com/)
Steri Palace in Piazza Marina. Thousands of tags, drawings, poems cover the walls (first floor of the Steri Palace) of the Philip's prison and of the penitenziati prisons (prisons of penance) in the building next to the Steri. These signs tell the most mysterious and fascinating story of the city, when in Sicily the Steri Palace hosted the Saint Inquisition (1600-1782)
Beati Paoli Square
Behind the Santa Maruzza dei Canceddi Church the entrance point to the Beati Paoli underground hideout is hidden. No sign or poster shows it. But if you walk along the narrow alley of the Orphans (vicolo degli Orfani) you can notice a small walled-up hole. From this point, a long underground way stretched under the palermitan surface, up to Monreale and beyond
Via Divisi n. 82. The last trace of the Repentite Nunnery, a convent hosting repentant (ree pentite) prostitutes who turned to a saint life. Few years ago this crypt containg their tombs has been discovered.
Art Gallery La Guilla
Via Sant’Agata alla Guilla. The owner is Claudio Pezzilo, a real palermitano from the Capo area, with an immense love for arts. He opened this art gallery in a former stable and here his friends have the opportunity to exhibit their works. The best place to discover the real aspect of the Capo people. Claudio will tell you a lot of funny, interesting and fascinating stories.
Via Torremuzza n.6, at Petrulla Palace. A small 52 seats theatre. A gem of art and folklore set in one of the more intersting areas of Palermo: the Kalsa.
by Alli Traina
Top(shopping)Five + 2 in Palermo
Saturday lunch at the Ferro di Cavallo
Old Trattoria in via Venezia (next to the Theatre Biondo) my favourite dish is polpette di sarde (sardins balls)!
Ice cream at Ilardo
Afternoon. Chocolate and strawberry “cono gelato” at Ilardo in via Foro Umberto I…to enjoy sitting on a seafront bench
clothes, things and accessories via Ugdulena, 22 (it crosses via Libertà) a small bazaar in a groundfloor old apartment where you find every sort of thing– “from sardins to airplanes” (as I read once on a sign)
Home made bread (Pane casereccio)
Home made bread at the bakery in via Ugdulena, 1 – delicious!
Bargains hunting or the dress of dream at Torregrossa in via Gaetano Daita, 9 (close to the Politeama Theatre) small outlet for clothes and accessories (Marras, Watanabe, Comme des Garçons, Marni, Marc Jacobs, Prada, Lanvin and so on) and, once found a bargain, not always buying it...
Vuedù, via Sperlinga, 32 (nearby the Theatre Massimo) even just to give a look to vintage things design, clothes, jewels and - a couple of times a month - vernissages;
Coffee (and brioches)
Coffee at the Spinnato Cafè in via Libertà, 10 (off Via Simone Cuccia). Summertime? “caffè freddo”! Delicious brioches, as well!
by Anna Maria Caronia
The “stucchi” of Giacomo Serpotta at the Oratorio del Rosario in Santa Cita, opened in 1686 by the rich Compagnia del SS Rosario.
Piazza Marina and the Church of Saint Maria della Catena
The area of Piazza Marina and Villa Garibaldi. Do not miss the corner in which is located the Church of the Catena and the harbour of the Cala.
Spaghetti cozze e vongole
I love pasta with mussels and clams. Among my favourite, the pasta made by the chef of Calogero's in Mondello, the seaside area of Palermo.
Friday night at the Candelai club
Do not forget to pay a visit to the club I Candelai, in a former whorehouse. If you're able to get through the crowd in the Candelai street packed with teenagers and youngsters, on friday nights from 11pm you can dance. Immersion in the typical Palermo nightlife.
The coast seen from the Addaura, its rocks going down a sea with turquoise waters.
by Andrea Monica Garcia Dante
S. Maria dello Spasimo Church
one of the most beautiful places in the old Palermo, a magic place with trees inside and from where you can see the sky, where you can find concerts, shows and exhibitions.
(Viale del Fante), Rosanero football team 'temple', a mix of sport, passion, wonderful goals and a bit of folklore!
(Via Garibaldi), Palestinian and vegetarian restaurant owned by Fateh, familiar atmosphere, delicious Kebab and Falafel!!
“Franco u' vastiddaro”
He's the king of "panino e panelle" in Corso Vittorio Emanuele few steps from Piazza Marina and the magnificent trees of Villa Garibaldi.
a restaurant located in Piazzetta Colonna, nice place, warm hospitality and good dishes.
Films and novels often represent Sicily as a very hot, arid land. A piece of Africa in the Mediterranean.
This image is only partly true for some areas during the summer months.
In reality things are a little more complex. Experts define our climate “Mediterranean sub tropical with partial summer aridity”.
For the profane that means Sicily boasts one of the nicest climatic conditions in Europe.
Winters are short and temperatures are relatively warm for the most part of the year. You can go to the sea from May until November.
Very often however, it happens to take a last swim of the season on December…
Should I bring an umbrella? Yes, it could come in handy for some days between November and March..
If you are looking for intense cold and snow, you will have to search hard. However, in January and February there is snow in some areas inland, on Etna and on the Nebrodi and Madonie Mountains. Here the temperatures drops below zero and in some places you can even practice winter sports such as skiing. On the rest of the island however, we can confirm that extreme cold does not exist but don’t be surprised if you encounter people on the street wearing typically alpine clothing when the temperature is around 15°!
How to get there
Getting to Palermo has always been rather complicated and costly.
However in recent years the situation has brightened thanks to the various low-cost airlines which are dedicating themselves on the island.
Today you can travel to and from Sicily by different means, choosing from the following options.
Falcone-Borsellino International Airport – Punta Raisi (Palermo)
info - Società Gesap: tel 800.541880, 091.7020409 Fax 091.7020394 http://www.gesap.it
Lampedusa Military Airport (open to public flights in the summer)
During a train trip one gets to look around which is obviously the best way to get to know a country. Getting to Sicily by train (and by ferry from Reggio Calabria to Messina) can be an interesting experience as long as the extreme slowness of the Italian railway connections does not bother you: for example, the trip from Milan to Palermo takes between 17 and 21 hours and from Rome 10 to 12 hours, excluding delays.
For timetable information, destinations and prices consult: http://www.trenitalia.it
If you are car lovers you can comfortably reach Palermo’s port by some of the ships mentioned above. Otherwise you will have to cross the length of Italy as far as Reggio Calabria (do not forget- Reggio Calabria does not have a motorway, it is a nightmare) where you must take a half-hour ferry trip (which can triple in time depending on traffic). And then? Now you are in Sicily! At this point, be careful of the traffic. The behaviour of Sicilian drivers is not exactly like that of the Scandinavians…
The road situation is quite variable. There are both efficient connections as well as road axes in terrible condition. Besides various state, provincial and communal roads, the Island has four main motorway connections.
Approximately 90km long, this is the busiest motorway on the Island connecting the tourist and industrial zones of Catania with the agriculturally advanced zones of Ragusa and Siricusa. There is motorway fee.
Approximately 200km long, this section of motorway connects two of Sicily’s main cities. There is less traffic than the A18, making it somewhat faster and safer, if not for its habitual road works along the way. There is no sea view, but to make up for it in spring, autumn and winter you pass by very green fields and hills.
Covering a distance of approximately 215km, this stretch of road has many tunnels and is travelled by many heavy vehicles. It has taken a long time to complete the road and there are still lots of road works along the way. There is however a breathtaking view of the Tyrrhenian sea. There are motorway fees and the general road condition is not good.
A29 Palermo-Trapani-Mazara del Vallo
This is a fast motorway covering 115km from Palermo to Trapani it takes just an hour. At a distance of 30km is the Falcone-Borsellino International Airport.
A modern and well-equipped means of transport. The coaches do however have the same defect of slowness as the trains mentioned above. The trip from Milan to Catania takes about 21 hours.
Sais Trasporti - Daily connections from various towns in Sicily to Rome.Information: tel. 095/536 201 - Website only in Italian http://www.saistrasporti.it
Autolinee Segesta - National connections from Sicily to Puglia, Rome, Milan, Bologne, Urbino and Mestre and international connections to Belgium, France, Switzerland and Germany. Information: tel. 091304106. Website only in Italian http://www.segesta.it
Airport Coach Palermo (Company Prestia e Comandè)
from h 4 am to 11 pm (from 5 am every half an hour)
From the airport
from 5 am to midnight (from 6.30 every half an hour )
Ticket (one way) € 5,80
Stops from Palermo Central Station
1. Piazza Giulio Cesare (Central Station)
2. Via E. Amari n. 5 (Harbour) after 5 minutes
3. P.zza Ruggero Settimo n. 19 after de 15 minutes
4.Via Libertà n. 45 (P.zza Croci) after de 15 minutes
5. Via Libertà n. 95 (dopo P.zza A. Gentili) after de 20 minutes
6. Via Libertà n. 171 (ang. Via Rutelli) after de 20 minutes
7. Via Libertà n. 203 (ang. Viale Lazio) after de 20 minutes
8. Via Croce Rossa n. 125 d after de 25 minutes
9. Via Ausonia n. 71 after de 25 minutes
10. Via Belgio n. 25 (last stop in Palermo after de 25 minutes
11. Airport (arrival scheduled after 50 minutes)
Stops from the airport
2. Via Belgio n. 2 after 20 minutes
3. Via Croce Rossa n. 56 after 25 minutes
4. Via Libertà n. 106 (ang. Viale Lazio) after 30 minutes
5. Via Libertà n. 80 (ang. Via D’Annunzio) after 30 minutes
6. Via Libertà (di fronte al civico n. 89) after 30 minutes
7. Via Libertà n. 42 (P.zza Croci) after 30 minutes
8. Via E. Amari n. 170 after 35 minutes
9. Via E. Amari n. 8 (Harbour) after 40 minutes
10. Piazza Giulio Cesare (Central Station; arrival scheduled after 50 minutes)
The Sicilian and his Culture...?
There are many descriptions of Sicilian culture that flatten in one single image centuries of civilisations that are very different one from the other, a variegated geography and millions of inhabitants. Those things which remain imprinted in the mind are human warmth and hospitality, jealousy and sweets made with ricotta, passionate crimes and the Mafia, the sea and the blinding sun, the ruins and misfortunes.
We prefer to think of a ‘plural’ Sicily, richly layered with both traditional and innovative elements and with movements and contradictions. A Sicily not easily reduced to one dimension.
This section is dedicated to detailed information and experiences had on the Island and its multiform cultural expressions.
This is where your voyage begins from cinema to literature, music and social movements, gastronomy and art…
Jolts and movements periodically shake Sicilian society during its attempt to free itself from the Mafia’s hold, a criminal organization that has conditioned for years both the Island’s development and its attempts towards change by its inhabitants.
The Mafia is a complex and multiform phenomenon. To begin to understand more about it we propose Umberto Santino’s thorough examination as founder of the Sicilian Documentation Centre Giuseppe Impastato, the first Mafia study centre of its kind in Italy…
link: > http://www.centroimpastato.it
Critical consumption against the Mafia
Territorial Mafia control undertakes various forms. One of these is ‘il pizzo’, a kind of ‘tax’ that the Mafia imposes on commercial traders and businessmen in exchange for ‘protection’ (from itself).
The Mafia’s message is simple: “If you pay you’re safe. If you don’t pay, something serious could happen to you and your company…”.
Many obey; others lose their lives for refusing to give in to the racket.
During the summer of 2004 hundreds of mysterious stickers appeared in the centre of Palermo on which was written: AN ENTIRE POPULATION THAT PAYS THE RACKET FEE IS A POPULATION WITHOUT DIGNITY.
It was the birth of the ‘Addiopizzo’ Committee…
Link: > http://www.addiopizzo.org
If anyone has talked to you about Sicily, they have told you that there is a water shortage, that family is the most important thing, that women are victims of their fathers, brothers and their husbands and that the Mafia does not exist even though it is everywhere. They have told you the truth, but they have not told it quite as she does, Emma Dante, a thespian who from a workshop in one of Palermo’s former prisons has given life back to Italian theatre.
Emma Dante sets out to recount her own city, Palermo and its surroundings by liberating the drama from its congenital folklore. Sicily’s immobility and in particular Palermo’s, is the main point of action in M’Palermu. This show is a declaration of poetry that has gained her national fame around which her company ‘SudCostaOccidentale’ was to be formed. To follow there would be the violent ‘Carnezzeria’ , the ongoing death of ‘Vita Mia’ and the Mafioso revolution of ‘Cani di Bancata’, which would go on to tour Europe and the world, spreading the idea that telling the truth is really about revealing the act of faking.
Emma Dante’s belief is that theatre is a game, a disguise, a time to focus on reality. Theatre is mostly composed of bodies that move in scene, giving into the need to gesticulate. “Any one of your mistakes is worth more than any justice”, says the director to her actors, to teach them that the body often knows instinctively that which the mind wants. Her stage rules are wisely befitting for daily living: “Listen and denounce your own needs in order to connect yourself to the needs of others”, “Do the right thing at the wrong time or the wrong thing at the right time. Be creative.”
Seeing one of Emma Dante’s shows is highly recommended for those who want to discover the insides of Sicily and consequently to those who have a strong enough stomach for the voyage!
Now she's got a new space (http://www.emmadante.it/lavicaria.html)!!!
Gianni Gebbia - Sperimentale / Jazz
Akkura - Folk rock / Jazz /
Mario Crispi - Ambiente /
Elettronica dal vivo / Downtempo
Mario Incudine - Folk / Roots Music
Massimo Laguardia - folk/acustico
FOLKALAB - Elettroacustica / Sperimentale / Corale http://www.myspace.com/folkalab
Effectively, one cannot speak of gastronomy, the art of regulating the stomach, when making reference to Sicily. We are in ecstatic contemplation of the heavens, three star Michelin perhaps and of other glittering stars, which leads us to believe it is more correct to talk about Sicilian astronomy, putting aside the G spot or the G. for an art capable of bringing into being the most emotional dishes that mankind has ever produced, consumed and digested.
The history of Sicilian gastronomy is a fairytale which has its beginning with the classic “Once upon a time”.
Once upon a time there were the Greeks, whom, around about 734 BC, disembarked onto Sicilian ionic shores bringing with them olive trees, spelt and the art of making wine. Their knowledge and these ingredients soon mixed in with the local cooking, developed by the ancient inhabitants of the Island: Siculi, Sicani and Elimi. Spelt began to be used not only in bread but also in course noodles in order to maintain flavour and for an invention not to be undermined: Short pastry.
In the IV century BC, Archestrato di Gela in his “Fragments of gastronomy” claims to have visited every land and sea, but to have found ‘good taste’ in Sicily. The secret of Sicily’s cooking success from the IV century BC until today still remains the same: natural cooking, pure and authentic without sophistication and which only avails of oil, salt and if necessary vinegar and aromatic herbs.
That which has changed over the centuries is the variety of ingredients and the stratification of the culture of foodstuffs. After the Greeks, in fact, it would be the Arabs turn, when in the year 827 they were to disembark at Marsala, introducing us to the variable epicentre of Sicilian cooking: sugar cane, rice, jasmine, cotton, aniseed, sesame and the drugs: cinnamon and saffron.
The so-called Muslims of Africa were agile pastry makers and were to hand on the skill of making many sweets such as those which are still world famous today: cassata and sorbets.
To the Arabian pastry maker we owe: Cubbaita (Qubbayt) an extremely sweet nougat made from honey, sesame seeds and almonds; Nucatuli, from the Arab Word “Nagal” (dried fruit, confectionary, sweet dry); the Cupita or Copata: very hard nougat confectioned in large cloths with a base of hazelnuts, egg whites, sugar, honey and starch. Lovers of essence, the Arabs created sweets perfumed with fruit, cinnamon and even with floral odours such as jasmine which is still used today to flavour ice-cream in Trapani known by its Arabic Name “Scursunera”.
They would go on to invent jellies made from melon, must, cinnamon, jasmine and retorts and stills for distilling grappa liquor which out of respect for the Koran, they would only use to disinfect wounds and that we changed into rosoli.
To these tasteful ‘invaders’ we owe other typical Sicilian dishes such as Panelle, dried chickpeas and dried salted pumpkin flowers not to mention ‘pane con la milza’ – bread with cow spleen, of which today Palermitans still have a weakness for.
You are also partially responsible for Sicily’s culinary destiny, that’s to say the Arabs were to be defeated by the Normans of Roger II of Altavilla in the battle of Cerami in 1063. A Scandinavian population of good tempered sailors and warriors, besides the construction of magnificent cathedrals they were to bring: rotating spits, smoked herring and dried cod (Piscistaccu and Baccalà). Fredrick II’s love for hunting and game gave birth to delicatessen specialties in Sicily. At this stage the paradigm of Sicilian gastronomy was well written, it lacked only that touch of class which couldn’t come but from France, thanks to the reputation of ‘il Falsumagru’, who was first known as Rollò, from the French, Roullè, who filled the common people up with omelettes and vegetables and the nobles with fine selected meats.
The only thing missing was a touch of the Spaniards flowering baroque style, which however, was eventually to arrive. Thanks to this culture we recognise the evolution of the Arabian Cassata from the moment in which the new dominators brought in an important base ingredient: Sponge cake; and once more we must thank our Iberian cousins for introducing sweet and sour pumpkin and other various “mpanate”.
Undoubtedly, considering the dishes that are cooked and eaten nowadays, it is our duty to talk about Sicilian gastronomy, but not from the point of view of the historical evolution of our dishes, it would be more correct to talk of the history of wars and dominations as it is well-known - in cooking and in war, all is permitted!
Practical info & useful links
Driving & Parking
While driving, you should pay attention to thousands of motorbikes and car choosing their own favourite lane (anarchically). It’s not Bangkok but it gets close, sometimes…
Parking is quite difficult (not impossible) in the centre.
You’ll find blue-lined parking spaces (from € 0,75 to €
1,50 an hour). Tobacconists’ and bars (sometimes also unofficial parking
‘helpers’) sell the parking tickets you will need (scheda parcheggio). Scratch
out the date and time and leave the tickets on your dashboard.
Do not try Saturday afternoon! Everyone does it!
Car parks in the city center
If you want to walk around the city center, you can park in Piazzale Ungheria, just off Via Ruggero Settimo, the main street between Piazza Castelnuovo and Piazza Verdi. Price is €1.50 per hour to be paid at the Bar Mazzara (just before you leave) showing the ticket from the machine on entering. It's quite busy in the morning from about 8.30am to 11.00am and in the afternoon from about 4.00pm to 5.30pm. Usually, not so many problems at Lunchtime.
A good alternative in the same area is a Multi-level underground parking in
Open all time;
Spaces: 627;Short-term parking prices
- Each hour or part thereof - € 1.50
Prices including statutory VAT. Modifications and errors excepted.
Vegetarian and Vegan Palermo
Palermo has finally got a great resource for vegetarians and vegans visiting Palermo: “La Palermo Vegetariana” is a no-profit project that was born on Facebook and is now on the web – a project everyone can take part in.
This site lists all useful places for vegetarians who live – or are passing through – Palermo (Italy) in a Google Map, using information provided by users of the Italian-speaking Facebook groups Vegetariani e Vegani Sicilia and Vegetariani di Palermo, but also by any user who e-mails us.
You will find restaurants and take-aways with vegetarian meals and menus, organic food shops with tofu and seitan-based products and, last but not least, bakeries and pastry stores that do not use lard – an ingredient that is usually found in bread, pastry and sweets made in Sicily.
Vegans will find an additional resource: ice cream parlours that produce ice cream with soy or rice milk, and shops that sell vegan pastry and sweets.
Monuments, Churchs and Museums
Cattedrale di Palermo
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palermo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicily http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palermo
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