There are two Italian sayings relating to Sicilian food: “You haven’t eaten lemons until you’ve eaten them in Sicily” and “You haven’t tasted Cannoli until you’ve had one in Palermo.” Sicilian food is richer and even tastier than in the rest of Italy. And Palermo is the capital of Sicilian food. I loved the unassuming Trattoria “Da Pino”, where the owner tells you that he is the menu and where you can choose from a selection of authentic dishes served with a warm smile.
Tip: For good street food, observe where the locals are queuing. Sicilians are very fussy with food and only accept the freshest ingredients.
2. Magic of forgotten splendour
Palermo is a captivating city of glaring contradictions: Spotlessly restored grand palaces stand side by side with dilapidated historic buildings, quietly crumbling away.
Sicily’s history is endless, there isn’t a single dominant culture that hasn’t left some indelible mark on the strategically located Mediterranean island: Greeks, Romans, German tribes, Arabs, just to name a few. Sicily is struggling with the upkeep of all these edifices: 228 buildings are in an alarming state and locals are calling for a governmental intervention to help maintaining Palermo’s “Centro Storico”. When you stroll through Palermo’s markets and squares, you can almost hear the stories of forgotten grandeur, battles for dominance whispering from the Unesco heritage sites.
Via Roma and Via Ruggero Setimo are Palermo’s main and most elegant shopping streets. A sheer endless boulevard of high-end fashion stores exhibiting the crème de la crème of powerful Italian fashion houses. Mid-priced fashion brands such as Max & Co are cheaper in Sicily than in the rest of Italy. You’ll also find precious jewellery and enchanting little book and craft stores which don’t belong to big retail chains.
Just 15 min from the historic centre, Mondello beach invites the exhausted city traveller to rest and relax on the sandy white beach whilst enjoying one of Palermo’s best seafood restaurants.
5. Independant Hotels and B&Bs
Palermo boasts Sicily’s best independent boutique Hotels and B&Bs. Our charming B&B in Richard Wagner Street, near Via Roma in the Centro Storico, was the highlight of the trip. Central but quiet, with tastefully decorated bedrooms, a huge terrace overlooking Palermo and a fantastic host serving breakfast on the private terrace, replete with home-made jams. Living la Dolce Vita! Inbox me for the name and details if you’re interested to stay there (don’t want to give away that little gem)!