First Phoenician and Roman city, then Arab capital, later conquered by Normans and Swabians, this is Palermo, a place where Arabian and Norman architecture coexist with baroque and art nouveau taste of monuments, palaces and theatres, but also gardens and markets. Palermo is the capital of Sicily. It is a picturesque city, dominated by the polychrome marbles of the baroque churches, the Moorish style domes, the colourful Vucciria market, the Kalsa district and lush green areas like the Parco della Favorita, the Villa Giulia and the Botanical Gardens.
The most important testimonies date back to the Arab-Norman period: The Royal Palace (or Palazzo dei Normanni) with its Palatine Chapel, guardian of Byzantine mosaics of rare beauty, the Castello della Zisa; the Church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti, the Church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio (or the Martorana), the Church of San Cataldo, the Admiral’s Bridge, which crossed in the past the river Oreto, the Cathedral of Palermo, the Cathedral of Monreale with the extraordinary representation of Christ Pantocrator, places that still today speak to us of the harmonious symbiosis of western, Islamic and Byzantine culture, cultural legacy of an unrepeatable historical period in the political-religious life of the Sicilian island.
The impressive Teatro Massimo certainly deserves a visit, the famous opera house in neoclassical style. Spectacular is also the characteristic Teatro dei Pupi, the puppet theatre, whose protagonists have always been Charlemagne and his paladins fighting the fierce moors.
The “Antonio Salinas” Regional Archaeological Museum has one of the richest archaeological collections in Italy, evidence of Sicilian history in all its phases ranging from prehistory to the Middle Ages.
The very centre of the city is Piazza Vigliena, or rather the “Quattro Canti”, the octagonal square at the intersection of the two main roads of Palermo, not far from Piazza Pretoria with the Town Hall and the fountain “of shame”.
Do not miss a walk in the city’s daily street markets such as La Vucciria, well known historical market of Palermo, or Ballarò, where you can taste the typical street food.
In the heart of the Palermo’s inhabitants is the sanctuary of Santa Rosalia, protector of the city, sanctuary inside an ancient cave on the nearby Monte Pellegrino that offers beautiful views of the city from above.