Best time to go
The best time to visit is spring, when the city is not yet the heat oppressive, the days are long and the colors of nature offer beautiful scenery. Even the autumn months are recommended, while the summer is mostly suitable for a seaside holiday.
The capital: what to see
The face of Palermo is a treasure trove of history and art that shows the memories of all the people who have gone from here: Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Spaniards, Austrians. The city tour can start from the Cathedral which houses the chapel dedicated to St. Rosalia the silver urn containing the relics of the patron saint of Palermo. The Cathedral is a stunning architectural synthesis of different ages, happy encounter in the world of the East with the West. The two main arteries of the four “districts”, the neighborhoods that make up the old town, are the Via Maqueda and the old “Cassaro”, which is now called Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Intersect at right angles, giving rise to four different zones. Walking around the Cassaro you arrive at Porta Felice, behind which appears the sea. The streets are a continuous succession of churches, squares, aristocratic palaces, convents, which show all the nobility of this historic city and an impressive architectural wealth. Loved the monumental complex of the Palazzo Reale odei Normans, where you can admire the rich decorations of the Sala di Ruggero and laCappella Palatine, built by Roger II, recently restored. The most photographed church in Palermo Esan John of the Hermits, characterized by five red domes of gray tuff geometrically square. Beside the church is the cloister of the Benedictines. Other sights to see are the fifteenth Senatorial Palace and the Church of Santa Caterina. At about ten kilometers from the city is Monreale with its cathedral, the twelfth century, decorated with precious Byzantine mosaics. Among the major museums worth visiting the Museo Internazionale delle Marionette “Antonio Pasqualino,” all dedicated to puppet theater, and the new Museum of Contemporary Art Siciliadi Palazzo Riso. Do not leave Palermo without having breathed the atmosphere of the popular markets, those diVucciria, Ballarò, Chief, inspired by colors, smells and voices vivid and authentic. Who wants to enjoy a day of sun bathing and in the immediate vicinity of the capital can make a puntantina the renowned beach of Mondello. In the direction opposite from Bagheria Palermo is reached, the birthplace of Renato Guttuso, where you will find the elegant villas of many noble Palermo that between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries chose the location as a peaceful vacation retreat a few kilometers from the capital.
The best places to visit in Sicily
In addition to Palermo and Catania are many corners of the region that deserve to be seen, both for its natural features for both the historical and artistic heritage. Interesting are the archaeological sites diSegesta, Selinunte and the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. A Square Armerinac’è the Villa del Casale, famous for its mosaics, the greek theater in Taormina. Syracuse also preserves many vestiges of the Hellenistic period, while Noto, Modica and Ragusa are at the center of the area where the Baroque architecture are the main attraction. But Sicily is a popular destination for food and wine and for its natural beauty. Etna Park, around the big volcano, offers magnificent scenery, passing from the woods to the desert expanses of lava rock. The sea is another protagonist of Sicilian tourism. The most beautiful coastlines on the island are probably those of the Zingaro Nature Reserve, in the north-west tip, and the Cyclops Riviera, including Aci Castello and Acireale. And then there are the beautiful waters and beaches of the islands, as the Egadi Islands, the Aeolian Islands, Pantelleria, Ustica, Lampedusa and Linosa.
Festivals and Events
The most important festivals are religious ones, very present in the folklore of the island. There is virtually small cities also celebrated with grandeur that is not a saint and key moments in the Catholic calendar. A Palermo has followed the great Feast of Santa Rosalia, culminating on the night of July 14 with a grand procession accompanied thousands of devotees who sing songs of devotion. Equally intense and of great tourist attraction is the procession of Good Friday during Holy Week in Enna, with a torchlight procession of hundreds of hooded confrati. Other important religious festivals are diSant’Agata in Catania, Saint Lucia of Syracuse, the Living Nativity of Agira, the procession of the Passion living at Marsala. On the secular side, Carnival is also celebrated with great resonance a little ‘everywhere, and particularly in Regalbuto, Acireale, Paterno, Sciacca, Termini Imerese. In the Valley of the Temples takes place every February, the Folk Festival of almond tree in bloom, while in mid-August in Piazza Armerina there are duels between knights in costume of the Palio of the Normans. A gastronomic event not to be missed is the one with the Cous Cous Fest of San Vito Lo Capo, in September. In the rich cultural life of Palermo’s Teatro Massimo outstanding seasons and Politeama and ilFestival of Morgana, between November and December, with some great performances of the famous “puppets”.
For him, except that in the middle of winter, when you have to carry around some heavy sweater and a coat, you can start light: shirts, t-shirts, clothing for the beach. Comfortable shoes and hiking if you count to dig into the protected areas of the interior. For her: seasonal surely we will escape the sea and the beach. So: costumes, shorts, sunscreen. In addition to sunglasses and wide-brimmed hat. Tank tops, shorts and sandals for spring and summer. A few nice dress to go out at night, especially in Palermo and Catania, and sportswear for a trek along the slopes of Etna.
What to eat
The cuisine of Sicily is among the richest of flavors in the world, based on a raw material that makes the difference. It starts from the fish, of course, who arrives fresh in restaurants and taverns directly from the fishermen’s nets: tuna, bluefish, swordfish, shrimp, sea bass. Among the specialties of the sea there are the stuffed sardines, pasta with sardines and fish couscous. Sicilian cuisine has absorbed the customs Spanish, Arabic, French, but not only. Witness a dish like the famous eggplant caponata, with a characteristic bittersweet taste. Other specialties are pasta alla Norma, rice balls, eggplant laparmigiana, the fritters. The desserts are a triumph of pleasure reaches its climax in the cannoli and cassata. A typical ingredient is pistachios. Very popular is also the granita, especially with lemon, almond and coffee. The wines of Sicily are now among the most famous in the world. In recent years tourism has grown a lot just tied to the roads of the wine, which leads to discover the best wineries and most characteristic wines, such as Moscato and Passito di Pantelleria.
What to buy
In Sicily you can not resist the temptation of spending a gourmet, made preserves, jams, marzipan, wines and spirits. Fans of cured meats can be put in the cart pork salami Nebrodian black, lovers of sweets will focus instead on the famous marzipan fruit or tablets dicioccolato Modica citrus. Then there are some “must” craft, souvenirs such as the Sicilian carts, the “puppets” and tambourines. Very beautiful are the ceramics, often inspired by the ancient greek pottery. If you are looking for a classic shopping and less typical, you can do a tour of the elegant shops and designer boutiques that are located in Palermo near the Politeama, in the area of Via Ruggero Settimo.
To read about the destination
For an evocative series of images and texts on the region you can browse Sicily (ed. Simephoto) by Alessandro Saffo and Luisa Taliento. To exit from the usual tourist routes, it is useful to Sicily unknown. Routes unusual and curious (ed. Rizzoli) by Matthew Collura. Sicily in the kitchen (and. Mondadori Electa) collects all the major regional recipes, with simple explanations and accurate information on how to prepare the dishes. In drops of Sicily (ed. Mondadori), Andrea Camilleri brings to life images and genuine characters of his native land.