Sightseeing in Palermo made easy - The Main Road To Know
“Sicilians build things like they will live forever and eat like they will die tomorrow.” - Plato
If you have ever been to Palermo, you will know this quote to be true. Touch down in Sicily, catch a shared taxi to Palermo for just €8 per person for the 40 minute drive from the airport, get a banging Airbnb for €18/night and make your way down to the 16th century Baroque and Renaissance styled Porta Felice. These towering city gates open out to the ocean, marking the beginning of Via Vittorio Emanuele. This long, straight road guides the way directly to the mountain-top town of Monreale. Standing proudly above is one of the most perfect examples of unexpected Sicilian history - the golden Cattedrale di Monreale, spectacularly divine Norman architecture, dating back to 1174 and still in immaculate condition. Other cultures that add to the delicious melting pot of Sicilian history, architecture and culture include the Greeks, Phoenicians, Arabs, Spaniards, Romans, Germans and Austrians. All of which have left their own unique treasures throughout the city - which means this is the one-stop bucket-list spot, packing all the European sightseeing into a short Sicilian city getaway.
“Sicily is an island lying outside time, where past events endure in an external present, a beach on which the tides of successive civilizations have heaped in disorder their assorted treasure.” - Vincent Cronin, The Golden Honeycomb
Taking just a 15 minute stroll from Porta Felice along Via Vittorio Emanuele, you will discover some of the best sightseeing that Palermo has to offer. Piazza Pretoria, I Quattro Canti, Il Cattedrale di Palermo (which has been a place of worship since 600AD!) and Il Palazzo dei Normani all take residence along this road - amongst other countless spectacles. All of which remain in remarkably stunning condition, having survived 13 foreign dominations.
The intricate buildings were made to last and even managed to evade the bombings during the Allied invasion of Sicily during WWII. Some bomb sites still remain as beautiful scars in the city, a melange of rubble and wildflowers - with nature gradually taking back what was once hers over the years. One of the most astonishing war-wounds is directly across the road from Palermo’s Cathedral. The contrast is quite simply, breathtaking. Being the most conquered city in the world, Palermo boasts this proudly with her wealth of condensed culture and history so was rightly awarded Italian Capital of Culture 2018.
“In Sicilia abbiamo tutti. Ci manca il resto.” // “In Sicily we have everything. We are missing the rest.” - Pino Caruso
There really is something for everyone here, whether you want to come for the history and architecture, the art, culture, nature reserves, stunning gardens and mountainous hikes, white sand beaches and a bit of European winter sunshine or even to just to come for the great vibes... After all, there’s a reason everyone wanted a piece of this place.
As for the food... it goes without saying. Keep an eye on this space for upcoming food that’s not to be missed while in Palermo.