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Call to speak to your personal Travel Consultant 01483 345 701

Monday-Friday 9am-6pm; Saturday 9am-5.30pm

Call to speak to your personal Travel Consultant

01483 345 701

Monday-Friday 9am-6pm; Saturday 9am-5.30pm


Gloriously unconventional and slightly disheveled in a charmingly Italian way, Sicily's capital city is a melting pot of cultures and architecture, in fact one saying is that Palermo is 'the most European of North Africa's cities'!

This is a vibrant, colourful and chaotic city full of contrasts, with elegant palazzos, noisy street markets but also stylish modern boutiques. Start with a wander around the old centre, which fans out from the main crossroads of the Quattro Canti, from where the four main quarters of the city begin. There's much to see and do in both the city itself and on day trips out and car hire can be taken for part of your stay. Palermo can also easily be combined with other destinations in Sicily to make a great multi-centre holiday.

Today the regional capital of Sicily, Palermo was once one of the key centres of the Mediterranean. The city was founded by the Phoenicians and subsequently conquered by the Carthaginians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the French and the Spanish. This demonstrates the strategic importance of this city in the Mediterranean context. Every conqueror left an indelible legacy in this land and Palermo’s identity is first of all a mix of identities.

The proximity with North Africa is easily observable not only in the vegetation and in the climate, but also in local architecture, food and lifestyle. Many buildings in Palermo still show the influence of Islamic architecture, often mixed with Norman or other influences. Local food also has links to Arabic tradition, with pistachios, almonds and spices being largely used.

Food is a real pleasure here and Palermitans enjoy it as much at home as when they are out and about. This is why local street food is so popular in this city. Two very typical sandwiches are panino cà meusa (spleen sandwich!) and pane e panelle (chickpea flour fritters served on bread). As a sweet treat, a cannolo with fresh ricotta cheese is always a winner.

In order to really get the vibe of this city, head to one of Palermo’s busy markets, where you can also find the best street food in town. The Vucciria and the Ballarò are the most famous and traditional ones. Noisy and bustling with life, these markets definitely have a lot in common with Middle Eastern bazaars. Intense smells, vibrant colours, mysterious languages.. except that in this case it’s not Arabic that you are hearing.. but the very strong Palermitan dialect instead!

All in all, Palermo is a very exotic city, off the beaten track of mass international tourism. While cities like Florence or Venice have adapted to the constant flow of tourists, this Sicilian gem is still living at its own pace. Here there are considerably fewer English speakers and restaurants have not yet adapted menus to please foreign taste, in favour of a truly authentic experience.

The best times of the year to visit Palermo would be spring or autumn, when the temperatures can still be pleasantly in the mid twenties. But also in winter you can find dry sunny days with temperatures hovering around the high teens. July and August do tend to be very hot and so it becomes more difficult to sight see during those months.


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