Palermo was our second stop in Italy. Although its not on a typical Italian itinerary of Rome- Florence-Venice-Milan, the first time I went to Catania, Sicily, I fell in love with it. Very warm weather and people, different landscape and amazing variety of food, what’s not to love.
We landed mid morning and it was already super hot. It was one of those few days where the temperature was hovering around 100F. we reached our Airbnb, tucked away in little tiny lanes of the old Palermo town. I was so pleasantly surprised. The airbnb was just perfect, clean rooms, great hosts, good breakfast spread and close to all old town attractions. Our host Vincenzo was super helpful and I would highly recommend his place for those visiting Palermo.
Our apartment was more like a condominium, a small kitchen and a living room on the first floor, and two bedrooms with attached bathrooms on the second. Our host Frederico had some soda and beer in the fridge waiting for us, it was really nice of him.
Here is the link to the AirBnb
We were super hungry and wanted to get something quick to eat. My hubby did a quick search and we walked to the downtown. We walked through the beautiful lanes of Palermo, it was so hot that not many people were on the street. We came to Villa Emanuel and found the place we were looking for, a cafe with a gelato parlor. We were so excited. We ordered many dishes but one of the favorites was the simple margarita pizza, delicious crust, topped with fresh cheese and cherry tomatoes. The pistachio Gelato was a perfect end to a great meal
The old town is so beautiful and charming, just as I had imagined. Cobble stone streets, small shop, gelato everywhere and of course amazing people.
Cathedral de Monreale
We were at a walking distance from the cathedral and the palace. The cathedral is very different from the ones we had seen in Rome, but magnificent in its own way. In fact I felt a very nice vibe in this place.
The church is beautiful with intricate decoration, it had such a serenity.
My favorite part in any town is the local markets, whether its vegetable market or a art market or a food market, I love them all. There are many small markets but four major ones and I visited three of them.
One of the markets was very close to the AirBnB
Mercado del Capo ( here is the exact location)
This was on a walking distance from my Airbnb. I wake up fairly early in the day so one day while the family was sleeping I decided to take a trip to this market.
Apparently this market was established by the Arabs and one feels like they are in one of the souks as you walk the lanes of this market. You can get anything here it seems.
When you look at Sicilian food, you can see Arab influence very clearly everywhere. Pistachio in Gelato, combination of sweet-sour ( orange, resins), rice & saffron in arancini and so much more.
It was super hot and which meant that it was pretty much necessary to stay indoors during the afternoons. One such evening after a good siesta, we stepped out to check out another market. This market apparently was a known fish market at one point in time, however you don’t see any signs of that if you go here during the day time. But the same place just transforms itself into a whole different scene. As you step down from the street into the square where count-less vendors have set up their tables, you are taken over by the sounds, smells of Vucciria. The evening starts with apretif and ends with cannoli and music and drinks and can go on till the wee hours of morning. There is some harmony in that chaos indeed.
We enjoyed freshly cooked octopus salad, pan e panele which reminded me so much of the Vada Pav from India, and of course feasted on the cannoli. I must tell you, that ricotta is something else.
It might not appear to be the most hygienic place, and it certainly is not a high end affair, but this market captures the essence of Palermo.
Sicily is known for its puppet theatre, so we could not miss attending a show. Just before the show we hung out and enjoyed some Italian mule and some snacks. There are these alleys that suddenly open into an area where there are tables set up and every restaurant is trying to get you to dine with them. We loved the vibe of that place and ended up going another evening.
We are big time Godfather fans, every thanksgiving we watch all three parts, a tradition as special as a Thanksgiving meal. So we of course could not miss visiting Teatro Massimo while in Sicily.
We made a day trip to Mondello beach, it was a beautiful beach but it seemed like all of Sicily was there. I suppose it gets busy in August. We made a stop on the way back at San Lorenzo Mercado. A fun place where you can buy many local products, enjoy good food with some live music. The only issue was getting a cab to go back to Palermo. It seems like mostly locals come here in their cars hence the cabs are not that easily available.
We had an awesome time in Palermo. Enjoyed some incredible Sicilian food like amazing pasta, pizza, Cannoli and so much more
I love Italy so much that I hope to live here some day. Sicily although a part of Italy, has a charm and character of its own. From its people, landscape, families and food, everything is just amazing.
Hope you enjoyed my quick tour of Palermo!