A guest post by Emily Jones about Palermo, Sicily. Enjoy!
Incredibly beautiful and boasting great weather, seascapes, food and history- Italy’s southern island Sicily has an endless amount to offer its visitors. So, where better to start your Sicilian adventure than its fascinating capital Palermo. With flights from most major UK cities Palermo is a great place to start, or indeed enjoy your entire holiday without ever getting bored.
Cosmopolitan and with a great array of interesting things to see and places to visit Palermo somehow maintains a very traditional and authentic feel. My top tip? Rather than staying in one of the many hotels on offer, check out one of the many locally owned villas in Palermo that are available to rent and have a truly Italian experience. The cost of living is low and with incredible markets where you can pick up fresh produce you’d be much more comfortable in a villa with more space, and your own kitchen to rustle up some food after a long day exploring the city.
Palermo’s main attractions
Palermo has been described by the Guardian as a ‘Crumbling film set of a city’ – which seems very apt to a place both stunning to look at and filled to the brim with history and a fascinating past. Norman kings conquered the city in 1072 and some of its most wonderful attractions are the buildings created during this time.
A must see stop-off point is Palazzo dei Normanni filled with the most intricate and beautiful golden mosaics. Then we have the Teatro Massimo the largest opera house in Italy, which dates back to the nineteenth century. Whether you attend a concert or simply scale the impressive staircases this destination in Palermo should not be missed.
Fans of baroque architecture will find themselves spellbound by Palermo Cathedral erected by the Normans in the 12th Century which has to be seen to be believed.
Food in Palermo
Italian food is arguably the best in the world- and is known across the globe. This is a tradition that has definitely not passed Palermo by- it is a city famous for exquisite authentic dishes and you’d struggle to find a better place to eat than Sicily’s capital.
Sicily’s history is a mixed one and its food reflects this, as typical Sicilian dishes reveal the island’s various past inhabitants having been invaded by Arabs, Greeks and Normans. The staple ingredients of Sicilian food include the fantastic fresh lemons grown on the island, pistachios which are exported all over the world, eggplants, tomatoes and many other fruits, vegetables and nuts. Seafood is also something anyone visiting Sicily must try in all its many forms.
Typical unmissable foods you should be eating on your trip to Palermo include Arancini- mouth-watering fried rice balls filled with meat, cheese, peas and hot melted mozzarella. Or if you have more of a sweet tooth- try a cannoli (or five) – delicious crispy pastry rolls filled with sweetened ricotta which can then be flavoured with a number of delicious ingredients, or left in its classic style.
Sicily gets very hot in the summer but thankfully they also have a brilliant solution to the heat- granita. Granita is ground ice with sugar and fresh fruit- sweet and refreshing, the perfect snack to cool down and quench your thirst.
A trip to Palermo is a memorable experience- the city is very lively and locals are friendly and polite. It is a great holiday for who loves to have variety during a trip, as Palermo truly has it all.