Palermo

For other places with the same name, see Palermo (disambiguation).

Palermo is the capital of the main Italian island of Sicily, located on the north coast of the island.

Cathedral

Understand

Capital of Sicily, founded by Phoenicians under the name of "Ziz" (= Flower, but the meaning is still doubtful), later renamed by Greeks "Panormos" which means "all port", it reached its golden age during the Arab domination (IX-XI centuries A.C.) when it became one of the most prosperous cities in the Mediterranean and Europe, known as "city of delights" for its marvelous and lavish gardens, as well as for magnificent mosques and palaces. After being conquered by the Normans (1060-1080 A.C.), most of palaces and mosques were destroyed, but the new rulers exploited the cosmopolitan environment of Palermo and the artists, architects and masters from different cultural roots giving the birth to a unique architectural style, the so-called "Arab-Norman Style of Sicily", which is an original mixture of arabesque decorations, Romanesque architecture and Byzantine mosaics. After being home to one of the most famous Emperors of the Middle Ages, Frederik II fo Swabi, named "Stupor Mundi" by contemporaries, Palermo began its decadence under the influence of several dominations (French, Aragonians, Spanish and Borbons from Naples. In the mid of XIX century, during the so-called "Italian Risorgimento" Palermo was one the leading revolutionary cities in Italy, strongly contributing to the success of the "Mille" (literally "one thousand") patriots' expedition lead by the famous Italian national hero Giuseppe Garibaldi which ended with the reunification of Italy under the Savoy dynasty from Turin (1860). Nowadays Palermo faces several problems affecting its economic development, mainly because of the presence of the very powerful criminal organization known worldwide as "Mafia" or "Cosa Nostra". The city's economy is based on local government institutions, port, shipbuilding industry and the mechanical industry. It is also seat to some important Sicilian wine making companies (like Tasca d'Almerita, Duca di Salaparuta, Corvo, Planeta, etc.) whose popularity in the world is growing.

Get in

By plane

Palermo International Airport (IATA: PMO) is located some 32 km west of the city at Punta Raisi and has flights incoming from other Italian centres and major European cities on a regular basis. Half hourly shuttle buses, on the :00 and :30, (operated by Prestia e Comandè) provide inexpensive transport into the city centre train station (€6.10, as of November 2012). Purchase bus ticket from the ticket office next to the bus at the airport. From city centre to the airport, purchase ticket from the driver. There are 1-2 trains per hour, 50 minutes, €5.80 (destination Punta Raisi). The usual taxi and car rental services are also available at the airport.

By ferry

Ferries steam between the port of Palermo and the following Italian ports on a regular basis: Genoa, Civitàvecchia, Naples, Malta (Valletta) and Cagliari (Sardinia).

By train

Through trains from Rome and Naples via the train ferry across the Messina straits.

Get around

On foot

Although Palermo is a fair-sized city, most of the interesting sites around the centre can easily be reached on foot.

San Cataldo Church in the centre.

By bus

Get a 24 hour ticket for €4. Many buses run on Via Roma. To go to Pl Indipendenza take bus 109 from the station.

See

Mosaic in Monreale Cathedral

Because of its variety of monuments, attesting to its long and rich history, and the number of other cultural and naturalistic attractions, Palermo can offer a very interesting experience to the visitor interested in exploring it. The Cathedral of Monreale, the Royal Palace and Palatine Chapel, the Church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti, the Church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, the Church of San Catalado, the Palermo Cathedral, the Zisa Palace and the Admiral’s Bridge, comprise together with the cathedral in Cefalù the world heritage site “Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale”.

The Orpheus mosaic
Gesu Church
Erimitage

Learn

International House Language Centre is right in the centre near Piazza Politeama (via Q. Sella 70). International House has teachers with years of experience. Each year it welcomes Italian language students from every corner of the globe. Its Italian language courses can be combined with traditional cooking lessons, scuba diving sessions and tours of the city and the island. The school was founded in 1975 and is also a centre of excellence for English language teaching. Free Wi-fi available for tourists and students.

Buy

Eat

Try specialties of Palermo like panino con la milza or panelle, in one of the many sandwich stands in the old city center.

Drink

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

Beware of pickpockets and motorcycle-riding snatch thieves targeting handbags, wallets and mobile phones.

Women should not walk alone at night in the historical centre of Palermo and travellers could be wary of La Kalsa, the neighborhood between Via Roma and the water, at night. The area is being renewed and gentrified, but is probably still one of the riskier places to be at night.

Vehicle theft is a major problem in Palermo, so the use of private, secure car parks is to be preferred.

Avoid going outside the city center, except for Mondello (beach and clubs), Sferracavallo (great restaurants), Monreale.

Connect

Internet

Cope

Palermo's main APT Tourist Office is located at Piazza Castelnuovo 35, open Mo-Fr 8AM-8PM and Sa 8AM-2PM. English spoken. A branch of the tourist office also exists at the airport. Get a free map from one of the blue information booths.

Go next

Palermo is the main hub for buses and trains in Sicily. The main station - Stazione Centrale is near the centre. Most of the long-distance buses leave from just round the corner. The shuttle to the airport leaves every half hour on the half hour until 11PM from the eastern side of the square in front of the train station.

By train

Regular, quite fast trains to: Messina & Milazzo for the Aeolian Islands (more and quicker than the busses to these two), Trapani and Enna. Less frequent to other destinations.

By bus

Regular, fast buses to Catania, Taormina, Trapani, Enna, Agrigento, and Syracuse. Loads of other places served too.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 08, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.