Palermo has been reborn. Visit the revitalised capital of Sicily and discover its art galleries and new restaurants, explore the history and enjoy the sun. Take a look at our Palermo lowdown for your next trip. The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Italy your essential guide for visiting Italy.
Palermo doesn't go easy on you, car horns blare incessantly, the summer sun's relentless and opening hours seem flexible. But be patient. It's also a charming city where the air smells of sweet pastries, backstreets open onto pretty squares and mosaiced churches dot all over.
You can't escape history in Palermo. The city's awash with Arabic cupolas, Baroque facades, Byzantine mosaics and Norman relics. But now there's also a contemporary art scene, Palermo's food is cutting edge and there are plenty of new places to stay.
If you're looking for new places to stay in Palermo, think about Bedda Mari Rooms & Suites, its city views are incredible.
Palermo's been transformed. Its tired districts have woken up, you'll find new restaurants all over the place and even some of the city's grand Baroque palaces now welcome guests.
If you want to get involved with city life during your stay, take an interest in supporting anti-Mafia businesses. To find out what you can do and how you can help, Addiopizzo is a great source of information.
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When it's too hot for Palermo beaches, find yourself a cool interior. The jewel is 12th-century Capella Palatina, the Palazzo dei Normanni private chapel famous for its Byzantine mosaics. And don't miss Teatro Massimo, which is possibly Italy's largest theatre.
A visit to Cattedrale di Palermo is another must and if you climb up to the roof, you will be rewarded by some of the longest, clearest views in the entire city. Then drop in on Galleria d’Arte Moderna or spend a few hours browsing Museo d'Arte Contemporanea della Sicilia.
Alternatively, discover a different side of Palermo altogether and book a NO Mafia walking tour round the city.
Palermo is famous for street food and the city's best morning market, Ballarò, is street food central. It's noisy and the stalls are crammed into narrow streets, butchers' counters overflow with gore and produce stalls are abundant. So when you feel hungry, this is the place to be.
For another true taste of Palermo try II Cuochini, which might be tiny but it's a favourite with locals for Palermo specialities like ragù-stuffed arancini and panzerotti. If you want more refinement head to Buatta Cucina Popolana where traditional Sicilian cooking meets the slow-food movement.
Bisso Bistrot is another local haunt, you'll find it behind Quattro Canti. For the best value wine, visit your neighbourhood enoteca and to really experience Palermo's culinary culture, past and present, book a street food walking tour and let a local be your guide.
Palermo is a great base for exploring Sicily and several fascinating places make easy day-trips from the city.
Visit the Roman site at Solunto, which you'll find perched above the coastal town of Porticello. Seaside Mondello is another easy day out and combines beaches, good restaurants and fishing village history.
Think about heading away from the coast to see the stunning Norman-Byzantine cathedral in the the hill town of Monreale. Or hop on a train and ride to Cefalù by the sea and spin your day trip into an overnight with a stay at Hotel Kalura.
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