Palermo is the vibrant capital of Sicily – the football to the boot of Italy, when you look at a map. It’s a huge melting pot of cultures and has a fantastically unique feel to it. Here’s a spotlight on Palermo and just a few reasons on why we think you should visit!
Palermo was founded by Phoenician traders in the 8th century – it’s one of the oldest in Italy. It’s had a chequered past and suffered great decay under Roman rule, but then prospered after AD 535 when it was captured by the Byzantines. Fast forward a few thousand years and Palermo suffered heavy bombing by Allied forces in 1943.
Since then much of it’s rich and fascinating architecture has been lovingly restored and Palermo shines as the beautiful city it has been most of its life.
Palermo is a large city and there is always something going on no matter what time of year you go. An early summer favourite is the Targa Florio Classic Car race, running in early May each year. Cars race from Palermo up into the Madonie Mountains. It’s a fantastic spectacle, not only for classic car enthusiasts!
The Avinando WineFest is another highlight, also in May. Hundreds of local Sicillian wine traders descend on Palermo and give everyone an excellent excuse to drink wine all day.
For those into opera the Barber of Seville, an odd name given its location, is an excellent show. Performed in the surrounds of Teatro Massimo, Europe’s third largest opera house, this fun show is hugely popular with locals and is a must if you’re in Palermo late September.
Arts and attractions
There is absolutely no shortage of things to do in Palermo – it’s difficult to know where to start.
Visit Palermo Cathedral, originally constructed in 1135 under the order of Pope Gregory I. Inside the cathedral is a treasure chamber holding various artefacts from and there’s also the tomb of Emperor Frederick II.
A visit to Palermo Archaeological Museum is also a huge must. The easy to navigate exhibition is split into sections based on periods in history and contains a vast collection of artifacts dating back as far as the Phonecian and Roman periods. Great for those who love archaeological history.
Those interested in artwork should head for the Capella Palatina. The whole chapel is one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture and artwork in Europe. Stunning mosaics cover the chapel and from each angle you view it you’ll find different and interesting perspectives.
How to get to Palermo
Palermo is an easy direct flight away with EasyJet, Ryanair and British Airways offering well priced flights from across the UK.
Once there, car hire is well priced and this allows you not only to explore Palermo, but also get out into the beautiful Sicilian countryside.