Palermo, the fifth biggest city in Italy, is a place full of amazing contrasts; chaotic but still somehow serene. If you ever feel like hopping on the plane and going to Sicily, we highly suggest this destination. Here are a few reasons why you should pack your bag and head south.
Did you know that Palermo was Europe’s capital of street food in 2015? There’s a good reason why. Centuries under foreign cultures and influences have left a trace on Sicilian cuisine. So, if you like a mishmash of Greek, Spanish, Arabian or French cuisine, you’ll be very satisfied here. Your visit to Palermo isn’t complete without trying the traditional Sicilian rice balls called arancini, or indulging in the world’s tastiest gelato. Palermo’s most significant treat has to be cannoli. You probably tried this pastry before, but you’ll never find one as good as the one made here. Everything tastes better in Palermo.
The long and rich history of Palermo starts in the 8th century BC, when the Phoenicians founded the city. The city’s architecture is the best example of cultural diversity here. Even the simplest stroll down the streets can reveal to you all the different motives on the buildings; from Arabic to Gothic ones. If that’s not enough, visit Palermo’s Regional Archaeological Museum for your daily dose of ancient relics. The city is the cradle of stunning buildings. Take the Teatro Massimo as an example; it’s the biggest opera house in Italy. You may recognize it from The Godfather: Part III. Sicily is the region with the most UNESCO world heritage sites in Italy. That includes Palermo and the magnificent Palazzo Reale from the Norman period too.
Palermo is usually called the city of delights. Well, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies here. The city has a dark, scary side too. Ever heard about the Capuchin Catacombs? It’s the eternal home for 8,000 dead bodies all dressed up in the appropriate clothes of their era. Some of the bodies are still in excellent condition, like Rosalia Lombardo. This little girl, who died in 1920, still looks like she is sleeping. Slightly scary, right? If you have time, and nerves of steel, spend an afternoon here. It really is like nothing you’ve seen before.
Do you want to experience Palermo on a whole new level? Watch the performance of Teatro Ditirammu. This passionate event full of music, joy and love will help you get connected with Palermo’s tradition. If you’re lucky enough, they might even include you in the show. Music, dance and wine! What else do you need to fall in love with Palermo?
Palermo has its own holy mountain. Yes, you heard right. Monte Pellegrino, a 606 meter high mountain, was once home to a young hermit. Rosalia di Sinibaldo lived here in one of the caves during the 12th century. She managed, although posthumously, to free the city form the plague. Rosalia was, and still is, Palermo’s patron saint. Besides an interesting story, Monte Pellegrino offers you a breathtaking panoramic view of the whole city. It’s pretty much worth the trouble walking all the way up, don’t you think?