My name is Guido. I’m an Italian native, travel enthusiast and founder of Ciao Italy & Carrani Tours. I regularly travel back to Italy testing out the Italian tours and Italian vacations we offer to our guests. And as you can see from my blog, I also like to share some of the information I pick up on my travels as it might help my readers get the best possible experience from an Italian vacation.
So, last year I was lucky enough to take a trip to Palermo. Here’s my insider’s guide to Palermo, Sicily’s largest city:
Palermo is Sicily’s capital. It’s a lovely port city based on the northwest of the island by the Gulf of Palermo in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It sounds beautiful, doesn’t it? It is, and yet many people who travel to Sicily on holiday visit mainly the beaches and the countryside and miss Palermo. It is well worth a visit, because at 2,700 years old, it has a deep sense of history and culture, wonderful food and produce, as well as some beautiful sights and experiences. Here are my favourite tourist sites in Palermo Sicily:
The Royal Palace of Palermo is also known as the Palazzo dei Normanni, which when translated means Palace of the Normans and this hints to its previous role. It was the seat of the Kings of Sicily during Norman times. It’s the oldest royal residence in Europe and is home to Sicily’s regional assembly. When you visit you’ll be able to see the majestic mosaics that were added during the Norman ownership of the building. If you enjoy this, then make sure you also visit the Capella Palatina or the Palatine Chapel – again with many mosaics that are visually stunning.
Monreale is 9 miles south of Palermo. It’s a lovely place to visit – I loved seeing the town’s Duomo, which has over 100 beautiful mosaics inside. The Benedictine Cloister is also not to be missed – it’s intricate archways and columns are delightful. You can also get a lovely view of Palermo from Monreale.
The Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele is Italy’s largest opera house and one of the biggest in Europe. It’s a beautiful building that stands proudly on Piazza Verdi, Palermo. To truly appreciate it, please do try to get a ticket to a performance, or at least take part in the guided tours.
Palermo Cathedral is a window into the fascinating history of this part of Italy. In the architecture of this imposing structure you’ll find Arab, Norman, Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque influences. Remarkable!
Now for something completely different and it has to be said it’s not to everyone’s taste. The Capuchin Catacombs are literally lined with the 8,000 clothed corpses, which are on display for you to see. It started as a graveyard of the monks of the monastery but it’s now a museum.
Many people visit Sicily for the beaches. If you visit Palermo you’ll also have access to some wonderful beaches as well as all these wonderful tourist sites in Palermo. The closest beach to Palermo is Mondello beach. It is beautiful but busy – as this is also where the locals go; however it is worth it.
I do hope my insider’s guide to Palermo, Sicily has been useful. At Ciao Italy & Carrani Tours we offer sightseeing tours of Palermo Sicily and vacations in Sicily, which take in Palermo. So, if you are coming for a city break to Palermo or you are looking to spend more time in Sicily, then visit our website at: ciaoitalytours.com