Palermo leaves your senses in a daze. There’s the high-pitch chatter of the locals, car drivers honking, the buzz of scooters, the screeching pink of the oleanders that line the boulevards, the sky-blue of a Madonna’s robe in a roadside shrine, and bright colours of washing flapping from the balconies. There’s a surprise around every corner: the pungent aroma of strong coffee wafting from a bar in an alley, a chapel festooned with mosaics, street signs in mysterious Arabic lettering, or a towering marble statue over a fountain in the piazza – Palermo is truly somewhere where you’ll never be bored.
Main City Rome
Surface 158.9 km²
Sicilians can spend hours discussing food, debating the sweetness of a tomato or the best way to fillet a sardine. So head to Palermo’s Vucciria market, the concentration of this most important ingredient of local life. Among the hollering stallholders and narrow souk-style alleyways, you’ll be buffeted between the sights and smells of seasonal produce: spicy peppers, writhing snails, blood oranges, salty sea urchins, prickly pear fruit and Etna walnuts. Be adventurous and try some street food like pani c’a meusa – calf spleen served in bread with grated cheese and lemon - gritty in texture, but it tastes better than it sounds.
To get the full impact of the city’s culture, you must have a night at the opera in Palermo’s Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele. It’s the largest opera house in Italy, designed like an Ancient Greek temple, and where the final scene of The Godfather III was filmed. A shrine to the glitz of Palermo, its mass of glittering chandeliers, gilt and sumptuous velvet create an auditorium that oozes grandeur - add in the blinged-up locals and ladies waving fans as if in the 19th century, and you can just imagine what Palermo was like at the height of its glory.
The city of Palermo has a very special relationship with its football team. Palermo's team is known throughout the world for their unique pink-and-black playing shirt. Spending a Sunday at the stadium can be a great way of keeping in tune with the city.