Palermo is the regional capital of Sicily (the biggest island of Mediterranea Sea), and is one of those cities with a very distinct, almost tangible atmosphere, a place of fascination, where reality often outperforms the traveller’s imagination. It is a buzzing Mediterranean centre whose 1 million inhabitants are a fascinating cocktail of apparently conflicting characteristics. The city’s history has been anything but simple, and the city has passed from one dominating power to another with remarkable frequency. Its strategic position at the heart of the Mediterranean brought wave upon wave of invaders, including the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Normans, the Swabians, the French, the Aragonese and the Bourbons just to name the most influential. The result of this quilted history is evident today in the vast range of architectural styles, the intriguing fusion of ingredients used in many local dishes and in the many place names whose etymology bypasses Italian linguistic traditions. In 2015, Arab-Norman Palermo and its neighbouring cathedrals were granted status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The grandeur of many of Palermo’s wonderful palaces and churches in the centre gives way to popular areas where the way of life doesn’t fully belong to the 21st century. This is particularly true of the historical markets, whose Arabic origins are still evident today thanks to their noise, aromas and colours, their narrow labyrinthine streets, the exotic array of food on display, and their souk-like atmospheres, but also, monuments, squares, baroque churches, and two of Europe’s biggest 19th-century theatres, the Politeama Garibaldi and the Massimo theatres.
Palermo is a city you never forget! The incomparable beauty of the sea surrounds the city. Mondello is the most famous beach and characteristic seaside village located just a few minutes from the city centre.