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Europe » Italy » Palermo

To the first time visitor, Palermo is a city of ever-changing character. An abundance of dusty museums, Arabian domes and flourishes of baroque splendor jostle with boisterous markets, chaotic traffic and oppressive summer heat. The Sicilian hotspot is a noisy, polluted, often dangerous, but always fascinating city. Don't miss marvels of Arab-Norman architecture, such as 12th-century Palazzo dei Normanni or San Giovanni degli Eremiti. Ask your hotel to arrange cabs and negotiate fares before setting off.

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Palermo is a city in Insular Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old. Palermo is located in the northwest of the island of Sicily, right by the Gulf of Palermo in the Tyrrhenian Sea.


Palermo is Sicily's cultural, economic and touristic capital. It is a city rich in history, culture, art, music and food. Numerous tourists are attracted to the city for its good Mediterranean weather, its renowned gastronomy and restaurants, its Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque churches, palaces and buildings, and its nightlife and music. Palermo is the main Sicilian industrial and commercial center: the main industrial sectors include tourism, services, commerce and agriculture. Palermo currently has an international airport, and a significant underground economy. In fact, for cultural, artistic and economic reasons, Palermo was one of the largest cities in the Mediterranean and is now among the top tourist destinations in both Italy and Europe. The city is also going through careful redevelopment, preparing to become one of the major cities of the Euro-Mediterranean area.




Palermo experiences a hot-summer Mediterranean climate. Winters are mild and wet, while Summers are warm to hot, and dry. Palermo is one of the warmest cities in Europe mainly due to its warm nights, with an average annual ambient air temperature of 18.5 °C. It receives approximately 2,530 hours of sunshine per year. Snow is rare but not impossible. In the late 40's and in the early 2000s it snowed as far as the harbour eight times. More often snow stopped on the edge of the city.



City Walls

Palermo has got at least 2 circuits of City Walls, many pieces of which still survive. The first circuit surrounded the ancient core of the punic City - the so-called Palaeopolis (in the area east of Porta Nuova) and the Neopolis. Via Vittorio Emanuele was the main road E-W through this early walled City. The eastern edge of the walled City was on Via Roma and the ancient port in the vicinity of Piazza Marina. The wall circuit was approximately Porto Nuovo, Corso Alberti, Piazza Peranni, Via Isodoro, Via Candela, Via Venezia, Via Roma, Piazza Paninni, Via Biscottari, Via Del Bastione, Palazzo dei Normanni and back to Porto Nuovo.



Finding love in Palermo

Have you ever thought about Palermo as the ideal city for lovers? We like to suggest to you the top 5 romantic places and hot spots in this city, each location has a little story behind it all relating to love.. let's discover them!


1. Are you young at heart? Well, every single girl in Palermo has spent their afternoons sitting under a little temple called Palchetto della Musica in the Liberty area of the city; writing love messages, listening to music and kissing.


2. If you’re more interested in legend and history, you can have picnic in front of Zisa Castle. A legend says that Azel, a prince form Lybia, fell in love with El Aziz, the Emir’s daughter. Parents were hostile towards their wedding, so the lovers ran away to Sicily to get married. Azel built the amazing castle as a gift for his love... but when they received the news of Aziz’ s mother had died of a broken heart, they died too. The legend also says that a large treasure is hidden in the castle, protected by little devils painted on the ceiling. It is said that sometimes they move to scare visitors. An ideal location to be a hero to your girl, promising you’ll protect her from everything.


3. If you feel romantic, you can offer a special panorama to your love: on the top of Monte Pellegrino you can see stars and the city lights reflected on the sea in front of Palermo. A classic under-the-star date with a breathtaking view, perfect.


4. Looking for a special place to have a dinner? You’ll love the Charleston, a former public baths turned into restaurant. Built in 1913 on the Mondello’ shore, you can spend a romantic night eating fresh fish and mesmerised by the view of the gulf.


5. Do you want to feel like a celebrity? Spend a night in Villa Igiea, a Liberty building with a private dock that has suites and rooms in art-deco style, fresco paintings, green gardens and a big terrace for a chic cocktail. Built in 1800 and restored in 1900 by the Florio’s family, it was a private mansion that after a few years was turned into a luxury hotel where celebrities from all over the world love to stay.


6. If you’re going to take the plunge and decide to seal the deal and marry, forget about traditional locations, a big cathedral or whatever else. Less is more. And if you’re looking for a very intimate place, where no more than fifty people could stay in, I know the place. San Cataldo, it's three red domes indicate it was an Arabic style build but inside you can find Byzantine arcade. It’s such a magical place in the centre of the ancient city.



Palermo nightlife 

Palermo's nightlife has grown dramatically in recent years. Everything in Palermo is guaranteed, there are plenty of spaces for fun and entertainment. One of the centers is without a doubt the “Champagneria” located near the Teatro Massimo. The area is crowded with young people, among them many students and tourists. In the historical center try also the Kalsa area where it is possible to find several wine bars. Places central are: Candelai, Pub 88, Mescal Tapas, andKursal Kalhesa, a stunning place not easy to find, (little entrance door with small sign) but huge inside. In the area of Ballarò  Porta di Castro you may try the PaLab an interesting cultural center with a large wine bar.


Pubs - In the last two decades there has been a great proliferation of all types of premises in which to spend an evening enjoying live music. The rich variety and distribution throughout the city allow tourists a wide choice between pubs, bistros and discotheques where to meet new people from Verona.



Bars in Palermo

•  Kursaal Kalhesa: Foro Umberto I, 21 Palermo. Tel: +39 091 616 2282

•  Grand Hotel Villa Igiea: Salita Belmonte, 43 Palermo. Tel: +39 091 631 2111

•  Ambasciatori Hotel: Via Roma, 111 Palermo.Tel: +39 091 616 6881

•  Kursaal Kalhesa: Foro Umberto I 21 Palermo. Tel: 091 616 00 50

•  Exit Drinks: Piazza San Francesco di Paola 40 N Palermo. Tel: 348 400 52 51

•  Cambio Cavalli: Via Patania 54 Centro, Palermo. Tel: 091 58 14 18

•  La Cuba: Viale Francesco Scaduto 12 Centro, Palermo. Tel: 091 30 92 01

•  Rocket Bar: Piazza San Francesco di Paola 42 W Palermo.

•  Mi Manda Picone: Via Alessandro Paternostro 59, Palermo. Tel: 091 616 06 60

•  Lo Spasimo: Via Spasimo, Palermo. Tel: 091 616 14 86


Do's and Don'ts for Men

Italian women like to be praised for their beauty and mannerisms, and a man should take the liberty to express his feelings of love and admiration toward the lady of his dreams. Show your courtesy toward a woman by opening the door for her and by paying the bills when eating in a restaurant. Be honest and communicate your true feelings for her. To make your dating an enjoyable experience, you should allow the relationship to develop gradually, and always be yourself.


Getting around Palermo

The best way to see Palermo’s medieval centre is on foot. All the sights are close enough that you won’t need more than your own two feet. The rest of the city is another story, and you’ll need to travel via bus or taxi. Buy bus tickets at tobacco shops before you board, and the bus will take you anywhere you need to go, including as far out as Monreale or Mondello. Trips made within a set time period cost a flat fare, or you can buy an all-day pass. For major sights and attractions, you may want to take the Giro Citta tourist bus. The bus travels in a loop, so you’ll get on and get off at Teatro Politeama. Buy your tickets on board. Buses are very convenient, but they can be slow. For a faster trip, call for a taxi or pick one up at a stand. You can also rent a taxi for an entire day.


Palermo insider information

• The Teatro Massimo is one of Europe's largest theatres. Dating from the 19th century, it was restored recently and stages opera and ballet.

• The Antonio Pasqualino International Marionette Museum contains about 3500 puppets, marionettes and hand puppets from around the world, including Punch and Judy. There is an annual Festival di Morgana, children's workshops and regular performances of the Opera dei Pupi.

• Quattro Canti, the square, is the centre of the old city, between Via Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda. There are four 17th-century palaces on the square with facades illustrating different themes such as Spanish kings and the four seasons. 

• Kalsa is Palermo’s Arabic quarter. The Porta dei Greci is also known as Porta d’Africa. It is possible to spot the sea from the gateway.

• The Palermo Cathedral, Saint Mary of the Assumption, is built on the site of a pagan temple and, later, mosque, and was worked upon until relatively recently so it has a mix of architectural styles. The chapel is known for its royal tombs and the Cathedral Treasury houses the 12th-century Crown of Constance, which has Byzantine, Arabic and Western elements.

• Visit Monreale about 7km (about five miles) south of Palermo's centre. Monreale overlooks the "Conca d'Oro," the beautiful valley beyond Palermo. The mosaics in Monreale Cathedral are said to be one of the world's largest displays of this art.

• The catacombs under the Capuchins Monastery are in the Piazza Cappuccini. In 1599, the monks discovered that the catacombs had a preservative that helped mummify the dead, a discovery that made the grottos very popular with the locals. The oldest corpses date from the late 16th century and the last corpse is two-year-old Rosalia Lombaro, who died in 1920. Visitors can wander through the catacombs' corridors among the mummified bodies.


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