Blessed with a truly Mediterranean climate, Palermitani (residents of Palermo) spend much of their time outdoors. Palermo is full of markets that are busy in the day with people buying their daily goods, and convert to gathering places in the evening where residents meet-up, grab a bite to eat, watch football, or party late into the night.
Mercato della Vucciria was my favorite for nightlife. Mercato della Ballaro was my favorite for mornings.
“In Sicily, women are more dangerous than shotguns.”
― Mario Puzo
Torrefazione Ideal Cafe has the best coffee in Palermo.
There emerged, this evening, from that swarming esplanade of Des Invalides – amid the crackle of fireworks, the shooting stars, the stink of frying, the hiccuping of drunkards and the reeking atmosphere of menageries – the wild effusions of one of Nero’s festivals. It was like the odour of a May evening on the Basso-Porto of Naples. It was easy to believe that the faces in that crowd were Sicilian.”
― Jean Lorrain
“The Italians are fond of red clothes, peacock plumes, and embroidery; and I remember one rainy morning in the city of Palermo, the street was ablaze with scarlet umbrellas.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Palermo, Sicily’s largest city, is draped in over 3000 years of history. While exploring the city one catches a menagerie of scents, tastes and visions of the past: Ancient Greece, The Roman Empire, Arabs, Normans, the Early Christian Church, crusaders, two World Wars, mafia violence and of course Italy and it’s people. The influence of each piece of history has been left behind in the names of streets, ruins of all kinds, surviving architecture, races of people and some of the best food on the planet.
At the center of Palermo lies Quattro Canti (Four Corners) where the four main streets of the city intersect. Locally, it is known as Theater of the Sun, as each building takes its turn being illuminated by the sun each day.
We stayed at Hotel Regina to start our trip. It was a trip down memory lane for me, because I had also stayed there about 12 years earlier on my first visit to Palermo! It was just as I had remembered it. At the end of our trip, we stayed in an apartment we rented on AirBnB. It was also great, and you can rent it here.
Down the street from Quattro Canti is the Cappella Palatina. It’s fine mosaics and inlaid marble floor rival those of Istanbul and Ravenna.
“There are riches enough for all of us, no matter our abilities or circumstances. It is only the inspiration that requires summoning.”
― Robert D. Kaplan, Mediterranean Winter: The Pleasures of History and Landscape in Tunisia, Sicily, Dalmatia, and the Peloponnese
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