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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
Palermo, seen from above, offers a vantage point from which to best admire its many aesthetic possibilities and makes for a breathtaking show. Besides seeing it from an airplane while landing at the airport between the Tyrrhenian Sea and Longa Mountain, there are many high up observation points to see the city from. They offer wide and suggestive views, sometimes after only a little climb. Others require scrambling up the hills surrounding the area known as the "Conca d'Oro" or "Golden Valley."
The Antica Focacceria San Francesco serves traditional Palermitano gastronomy such as sarde a beccafico - sardines stuffed with breadcrumbs, pine nuts and raisins. Since it opened in 1834, the restaurant’s tasty dishes, lively atmosphere and Liberty décor have attracted the rich and famous, including Giuseppe Garibaldi, Paul Newman, Hillary Clinton and Sofia Loren. Another reason to visit this charming locale is to support its brave owner, Vincenzo Conticello, who refused to pay the mafia protection money in 2005, and whose testimony against his would-be extortionists meant they went to jail. Conticello has had 24/7 police protection ever since.
Throughout the Mediterranean, the heat and relaxed lifestyle make for dining later in the evening. However, between the afternoon snack and dinner, there's a tradition of having cocktails, sometimes "rinforzato" ones which are significant enough to be considered a whole course in themselves